Hall of Famer
Chic Scott has spent a lifetime climbing and skiing mountains, leading a wave of homegrown Canadian climbers who changed the tide in the European dominated sport of ski mountaineering.
The fourth-generation Albertan was raised in a family of passionate amateur sports enthusiasts and influential sport leaders. First drawn to golf – his Dad was an executive with the Alberta Golf Association – Chic represented Alberta at the Canadian Junior Golf Championships in 1961. But as he looked westward, beyond the fairway to the Rocky Mountains, the allure and mystery of those jagged peaks on the horizon came calling.
In his later teen years Chic joined a small group to tour up and ski Parker Ridge – a popular Spring ski stop near the Columbia Icefields – and it was then, near the Continental Divide, that his life changed forever. “The mountains were glowing silver in the moonlight and the smell of wood smoke in the air and the wind sighing in the trees was captivating,” he explained. “After that my whole life was dedicated to climbing and skiing mountains.”
Chic has left a major mark on the sport. Some of his adventures and accomplishments include: the first winter ascent of Mount Assiniboine (1967); the first Jasper to Lake Louise via the high-level ski traverse (1967); the Aiguille du Dru North Face in the French Alps (1973); and Myagdi Matha (1973) – the first Himalayan summit reached by a Canadian. He also earned praise and recognition at the Banff Film Festival for his videos, books and presentations which continue to influence the sport.
But the Mount Assiniboine ascent and Jasper-to-Lake-Louise traverse were two significant accomplishments that propelled Chic into a lifetime of mountain exploration. “Those two initial big adventures in 1967 were just the start of several decades of mountain adventures,” he said.
Since skiing the Great Divide traverse, Chic skied another 9 “Grand Traverses” – truly unique Canadian ski adventures. “Here in Western Canada we have large mountain ranges which have many glaciers and icefields which are perfect for the Grand Traverses,” Chic said.
The sport of ski touring – known in Europe as Randonée – is a non-competitive way of travel through winter landscapes. Many consider it the most pure form of ski travel. Chic’s efforts helped raised awareness to the possibilities of this form of skiing, which carries with it a vast history including geographical discovery, from the highlands of Cape Breton, the ChicChocs, the Torngats, Baffin and Ellesmere Islands – and the Coast Mountains that stretch north from Vancouver for 2,000 kilometres to Alaska. These mountains are heavily glaciated and are great for ski mountaineering.
Seen as a fringe sport in the heyday of Chic’s ski journeys, the popularity of backcountry ski touring has grown exponentially. With rising ski resort prices as well as the advent of durable, lightweight ski equipment, improved education in avalanche awareness, and the potential to develop lifelong friendships in high places, can help explain its now global popularity. Ski mountaineering has also become popular with youth as you can leave behind the crowds and get closer to nature.
Chic is now a historian and author of many adventure and mountain books, in particular he wrote “Summits and Icefields” in 1994, which was the first guidebook to ski mountaineering in the Rockies and Columbia Mountains. It has become instrumental in getting thousands out into the wildness and mountains.
Few Canadians have spent as much time in the mountains as Chic Scott. He followed his intuition and the pull to the mountains and has gained a lifetime of outdoor wisdom, survival skills, friendships and, of course, many stories. And of course you will still find Chic staring up at the Rocky Mountains and plotting his next climb and ski.
“I was greatly honoured that I was inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame; in fact my skiing skills are modest and to be included in the greatest Canadian skiers of all time is a real honour, and I’m pleased to be one of the first mountaineers to be included in this group. I must be one of the first in this group who actually ski UP and into the wilderness of Western Canada first before skiing down.”
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
- 1995: Honorary membership in the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.
- 1997: Honorary membership in the Calgary Mountain Club.
- 2000: Honorary membership in the The Alpine Club of Canada.
- 2000: Bill March Summit of Excellence Award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival
- 2014: Honorary membership in the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
- 2018: Awarded the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
- 2018: “Pushing the Limits, the story of Canadian Mountaineering” won four awards including Alberta Trade Book of the Year, and the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non Fiction.