Tim Emmett on Melting Ice, Whistler Pow and Mountain Hardwear Designs

Tim Emmett is a long time friend of Mountain Life and was recently back at home in Squamish for a bit so we thought we’d catch up with him.  Tim’s been climbing since the youthful age of 15 and in his words also “survived” a 10-year stint as a wingsuit flyer. You can always hear his excitement from a mile away whether he’s multi-pitching, hanging with his family or headed to the nearest ice climb.


Chilling on the ice above the ice cave. Guillaume Tessier Photo
Chilling in the snow above a massive ice cave outside of Whistler, BC. Guillaume Tessier Photo


Hey Tim! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.  You’ve been traveling a lot lately, are you enjoying being home in Squamish, BC for a bit?

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Yes totally, I always enjoy spending time in Squamish. It’s a great base to see the family and friends and also the amazing activities on offer. This autumn has been one of the driest on record and lots of climbing outside and now it’s snowing in Whistler every day and put down nearly 3 meters in the last 10 days!


We got to say, you’re looking a little seasonally confused these days.  You are on our latest cover ice climbing in the summer and now you’re posting pics rock climbing the Grand Wall in winter and chipping ice away with carabiners.  Is this what it looks like to be ultra stoked on climbing, or is climate change getting climbers all out of whack?

I know what you mean, it definitely felt strange climbing in the ice cave when it was +30C in Whistler, quite refreshing actually!

I really enjoy the variety that climbing brings and being on the west coast of Canada offers lots of options, I try to make the most of the good times whenever they’re available. Though it must be said that in my opinion climate change is definitely having an impact in the places I’ve been going today.  

Part of me feels responsible for contributing to this because of the traveling I do. But I do try and use public transport wherever possible and I’m really into recycling and composting and encouraging others to do the same. If everyone I know uses their own coffee cup and water bottle rather than buying disposable cups and bottles, I think this sets a great example to others.

Being in an ice cave that’s melting so fast that my pick placements had disappeared in a week really opened my eyes to how quickly they are melting. It’s a hostile environment too, you know it’s going to collapse at some point so you have to be really careful. One of my good friends Harry Berger died when an ice cave he was climbing in collapsed many years ago.


Tim exploring some ice cave climbing this past summer.
Tim exploring some ice cave climbing this past summer. Jimmy Martinello Photo

Those photos from the ice cave we’re amazing.  Had you ever climbed anything like that before?  What was it like?

The cave really is incredible, being inside it is a unique experience that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I did climb in a cave similar to this in Chamonix once.  The climbing is difficult, the ice is very brittle so your axes and crampons have to be razor sharp. When you hit the ice with your axe it shatters instantly so you have to hit in the same place numerous times before your pick is stable enough to hold your body weight.


Even better, you were working with your good pal Jimmy Martinello who was one of the photographers.  Do you two get to work together a lot? Any fun projects in the future?

It’s always great having Jimmy along he’s really experienced in the mountains and he is a true adventure, he’s like my brother from another mother!


We noticed you were wearing a pretty unique looking jacket.  We’re pretty into the retro look here at Mountain Life, where can we get one of these?

Yeah, Mountain Hardwear’s new Exposure 2 Jacket has been my go-to lately for ice climbing and all the fluffy powder riding we’ve had at Whistler this month.  Besides it’s fit and durability I really enjoy how it’s made from sustainable and recycled materials. The jacket is a redesign of their original 1993 jacket that was such a groundbreaking development at the time.  

The jacket actually just became available on Dec 19th exclusively Altitude Sports and Mountain Hardwear’s site.  Check it!

Tim Emmett dry tooling
Tim testing the Exposure 2 in Mountain Hardwear’s lab.


You’ve been with Mountain Hardwear for a while now.  What’s it like working consistently with the same brand for so long?  

I really like working with Mountain Hardwear because they’re totally authentic. I know every single one of the designers and have spent time with each one of them talking about products and ideas. I often notice design changes in the end product after speaking with them about ideas and concepts.

Having Joe Vernachio as the president is superb too because he’s a climber that specializes in product and he’s passionate about making the best kit.  Working with Mountain Hardwear is like being part of an extended family, it’s really cool.


Thanks for the chat about the environment, ice caves, Mountain Hardwear and all this sweet powder Whistler is getting.  Enjoy the winter!