Mountain of Dreams

As the son of a moun­tain guide born at the foot of the land­mark Eiger in Wen­gen, Switzer­land, some might say Rudi Gertsch’s des­tiny was writ­ten in stone and snow – and alpine farm­land. Push­ing his hard-earned skills on skis, as a teenager he com­peted as a mem­ber of the Swiss junior team. Work­ing hard as a Trager, or porter, Rudi learned to lead clients safely up and down the land­mark climb­ing and ski­ing routes of his home moun­tains, the Swiss Alps, earn­ing his Swiss Moun­tain Guide cer­tifi­cate at the age of 22. Fol­low­ing his heart and his gut to the moun­tains of west­ern Canada, he found his place as one of sev­eral young guides will­ing to work tire­lessly for Hans Gmoser’s bur­geon­ing heli-skiing busi­ness in the 1960s and 70s, where he guided clients for eight years before launch­ing his own busi­ness, Pur­cell Heli-Skiing. A natural-born leader not just on rock faces and pow­der slopes, Rudi was the first mem­ber of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Cana­dian Moun­tain Guides to hold inter­na­tional UIAGM cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Serv­ing as the ACMG’s tech­ni­cal direc­tor for 10 years, he worked to see Cana­dian guides set the inter­na­tional stan­dard for win­ter guid­ing skills. A found­ing mem­ber of Heli-Cat Canada, he helped ensure BC’s mech­a­nized back­coun­try ski­ing indus­try was built on a solid, sen­si­ble foun­da­tion. And through all those years of hard work, Rudi remained true to his roots, not just as second-generation Swiss Moun­tain Guide, but also as a ded­i­cated farmer, rais­ing prize-winning Sim­men­tal bulls and grow­ing fresh food on the farm he nur­tured in his adopted Cana­dian home. Guid­ing climbers and skiers, pass­ing his knowl­edge to the next gen­er­a­tion of guides includ­ing his own son, work­ing to cre­ate har­mony between numer­ous back­coun­try user groups and con­tribut­ing to the respected cul­tures of guid­ing and farm­ing in west­ern Canada, Rudi Gertsch has earned his place well as the 22nd patron of the Moun­tain Guides Ball.

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