Raised in the Coast Mountains by a mother, who has many first ascents in the region, and an Olympic ski racer as a father, it’s no surprise that Hayden Robbins was drawn to guiding in alpine environments. Hayden began his ski-guiding career at Whitecap and will now be managing the McGillivray Pass Lodge summer operations with his partner, Leah Evans. As the pair are busy lining things up for their first summer at the lodge, we touched base with Hayden to learn more about the hiking program they will be operating.
How did you become involved with Whitecap and how long have you been working with Lars?
I think this is my 7th year working at Whitecap. I started as a practicum for a couple of years, and now I’ve been spending time in Norway and Japan with Lars as well. Those first few years I got a lot of first hand experience learning the ropes from both Ron and Lars and all the other amazing guides who pass through the Valley. It’s kind of become my favourite place to not only ski and hike, but also to just hang out. It really has a little something extra.
What will be your role at Whitecap this summer?
I’ll be acting as the Summer Operations Manager. I’ll also be one of the main hiking guides. Lars, Leah and I have been coming up with the program concept for almost a year now, and it’s been a great process as it’s grown. Lars has great ambition and Leah is unbelievably creative. I feel like I get to be the mediator between them and try to make these things happen.
Do you find being a hiking guide much different from ski guiding?
Ski guiding is a bit more goal oriented. For example: we need to get to the top, ski that, then over there and out of that drainage by this time. Or we need to maintain a certain pace to get the desired quota of vertical meters for the day. Alternatively, hiking guiding really allows for the journey to play a role in the day. You get to take the time to appreciate all the little things on the way, slow down and take it in. There is also a lot less objective hazard to manage, which gives you, as the guide, more capacity to engage with your clients and help them connect with the landscape.
What are your future goals for the summer program?
I would love to see our specialty programming continue to grow and expand. By bringing in experts in various fields, I believe we can use the mountains and hiking as a great vehicle to provide deeper connections. I can’t say exactly what we have planned yet, but it’s going to be cool!
I also would love to develop some more outdoor education programming. There is a lot of pressure on our mountains right now – with the heavy traffic. It’s awesome that people are excited to get out, and I’d love to be part of the equation to help educate folks on how to travel through the mountains safely and respectfully.