The De Facto Pioneer: 50 Years of Purcell Powder
with Rudi Gertsch
If there’s one thing Rudi Gertsch does better than ski, it’s tell stories. After a half-century spent guiding in the mountains of central British Columbia, the legendary alpinist and owner of Purcell Heli-Skiing has a lot of them.
Rudi’s own story is interesting enough to have inspired a book by the Alpine Club of Canada. No surprise, then, that his Purcell Heli-Skiing base is a veritable museum constellated with iconic powder boards, old climbing gear, alpine sketches, woodcuts, a scatter of his uncle’s inventions (remember Gertsch plate bindings, touring bindings and skis?), and a large painting that journeyed far through time and space to land here. Like the Swiss-born Rudi, it also emigrated from Europe, although its North America path began in Lake Louise, AB. From there, it ended up in the Swiss-styled village of Edelweiss outside Golden, BC, before someone decided Rudi should have it.
The art piece—depicting Swiss guides, of course—hangs over a massive fireplace splitting floor-to-ceiling windows that invite in the Purcells. The scene commands the attention of our group, which stands riveted before this diorama of Old-World tradition framed by rugged new-world mountains…