The Alsek Pass Boulders lie along the shore of an ancient lake located on the border of Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory of northern Canada. The scene is stunning with a backdrop of vast sweeping vistas in wild grizzly bear country. Well-sized outcroppings of beautiful green and red, climber-friendly stone are set as the main stage. The area is located about 15km west of the small Yukon town of Haines Junction that has a population of around 600 people.
We can all enjoy bouldering in the majestic Alsek Pass thanks to a legend in Yukon climbing, Paul Henstridge. I had the pleasure of experiencing the grandeur of Alsek Pass for the first time in 2008. I was spellbound by the beauty of the place and the quality of the stone. When I heard that Paul had developed the area, I got in touch. Paul has been climbing in the Yukon for decades and has developed uncountable routes, ice climbs and boulders around the territory, concentrating around his hometown of Haines Junction.
When we met, he had recently had a severe motor-vehicle accident from which he has been valiantly recovering despite the doctors’ negative prognoses. I’ve been documenting Alsek Pass with Paul very sporadically over the years on one-day missions. He’s got a perma-psych that is contagious and a playful determination that will put a smile on your face. Every year his body is more able to move around on the rocks but it’s not just the progression that’s inspiring, it’s his authentic and overflowing appreciation for the beauty of life.
Alsek Pass, Yukon|Bouldering in the Wild North by Sierra Allen was last modified: August 18th, 2019 by sya
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Sierra Allen on Credit Card Debt (V4), Rock Gardens
Right next to Alaska is a land less known, but just as vast and rugged. The Yukon Territory is full of potential for discovery. Larger in geographic size than the state of California, and with less than 40,000 human inhabitants, it still contains great expanses of untouched wilderness. It is a land of great potential for climbers seeking virgin stone as only a tiny percentage of the rock here has been explored.
Over the past century, rumours of getting rich off gold brought an influx of destructive human activity to Yukon. More recently, as the global consciousness shifts from extraction of and control over nature to the appreciation and gratitude for it, the Yukon is becoming a destination for folks seeking a different kind of richness: low-impact outdoor adventure in a still pristine landscape.
Sierra Allen on an Unnamed problem in the Alsek Valley
The Yukon is becoming known for being a natural playground for fisherpeople, backpackers, paddlers, dog mushers, cross-country skiers, paragliders and mountain bikers. Rock climbing and bouldering development in the Yukon began decades ago but it is now gaining momentum as more and more people head north, seeking the freedom to play in untamed nature. That desire for adventure is key in really getting the most out of what the Yukon has to offer. Naturally, the climbing areas that have been most developed thus far are concentrated around the Yukon’s capital city, Whitehorse.
Loic Markley on Witness the Sickness (V9), Ibex Valley
Accessibility is the exciting challenge to new development beyond the rock that lies near the Yukon’s sparse highways. Even access to the Yukon’s most prominent bouldering area, the Ibex Valley, requires a 4wd vehicle. Many more possibilities open up to those for whom hiking, four wheeling, and boating are an option. There’s a lot of quality rock out there, rewarding those who are psyched to put in the energy to get out there and seek it!
I invite you to come and experience the wild Canadian north through the simple yet infinitely engaging art of bouldering. The season to climb here is between May and September, with July and August being the months with the best conditions and nearly 24hrs of sunlight. You’ll never have to worry about having to rush to send before dark!
Ethan Allen on Tryndamere (V5) and Jenna Carter on Tryed and True (V0), Ibex Valley
Come expecting a solid variety of world class rock along with some pretty engaging “backyard choss”. Expect quiet beauty, zero crowds, adventure potential everywhere you look, free camping, free clean water and pristine landscapes you’ll be awed by.