Rudi Gertsch – Rudi’s Alley #11
Early extreme skier and star of one of Bruno Engler’s iconic Norquay photos
Skiing at Mt Norquay for years, I’ve always been drawn to one Bruno Engler image of a young skier in leather boots and classic ski sweater jumping off the top of the Cliffhouse with awestruck on-lookers below. Rudi Gertsch was one of the best freeskiers in Banff at the time and a great pioneer to adventure skiing in Canada.
Moving to Canada, Rudi started instructing and coaching at Norquay in 1966 from his native Switzerland. “Rudi was a top prospect for the Swiss National Team, which would have meant specializing in one discipline. His free spirit wasn’t prepared to do that; he liked all areas of skiing equally.” – Eddie Hunter, The Spirit of Norquay, 2000
Bruno Engler and Rudi were a good pair around Norquay and captured a lot of great images in 1967 with epic powder. Rudi was part of a the new school (in the 60’s) of skiers that wanted big air and deep powder skiing. It was the birth of freedom on the slopes and an attitude of carefree fun in sport.
The Shot – Cliffhouse Air
Reminiscing about the Cliffhouse jump years later, Rudi says “It was the winter of 1967. I had to come in at an angle to get enough speed and then do a turn on the roof. Without the speed I wouldn’t clear the cabin and the railing that ran from the top terminal of the lift. Speed was critical, I didn’t want to go too far, or worse, be short. Anyway I hit it right and Bruno got his picture.” – Rudi Gertsch, The Spirit of Norquay
After a few seasons in the Banff area working with Norquay, Rudi went on to found one of the first Heli ski operations in Golden, BC in 1974. The Gertsch family still operates Purcell Heli Skiing to this day. Rudi has been guiding for 50 years now, and with a little more grey hair, still loves to catch air!
Check out Rudi’s Alley (#11) right under the North American chair to pay homage to this legendary Banff and Golden skier – Trail Map