Weekend Warm-Up: The Rocky Mountains Traverse

If we’re not currently living in the Golden Age of outdoor sports, it’s hard to imagine what the real one would look like.

In the simply titled Rockies Traverse, athletes Will Gadd and Gavin McClurg break through to a new frontier of paragliding. Over two weeks, they manage to pull off what they call the longest paragliding trip ever, soaring above the Canadian Rocky Mountains for 700km.

How does that work exactly? It means Gadd and McClurg find a hill to launch from, fly as far as they can, then land and find a place to camp. Then they get up the next day and do it all over again.


A map of the paragliding route through the Canadian Rockies. Photo: screenshot


It’s an insanely high-stakes mission, requiring the pair of flying athletes to break every rule of paragliding along the way, as they explain in the documentary’s intro. Those rules?

First, don’t fly in heavy wind. Don’t fly in the lee. Don’t fly close to terrain. And never fly over terrain where there’s no place to land.

“The tiniest mistake can be lethal,” McClurg explains.

Close call

That almost proves the case about halfway through the expedition, when high winds force McClurg off-course, separating him from Gadd. The pair even lose radio contact, creating a sense of real worry until McClurg manages to battle his way back to his partner.

“I think I had some luck today,” he says upon reuniting with Gadd. “That has been some intense flying.”

Ultimately, the pair reach the U.S. border, as planned, after 700km of pure Canadian wilderness.


No shortage of incredible views on this long-distance paragliding trip. Photo: Screenshot


It’s a mind-bending accomplishment and one that might just become merely the opening salvo in a new form of outdoor exploration.

Or at least that’s what Gadd thinks. How many people have the skill, gumption, and resources to manage such a feat is an open question. At the same time, where there’s a deep-pocketed sponsor like Red Bull, there’s a way, and there seems little doubt we’ll see more adventures like these in the near future.

“I don’t think any one trip has ever changed my view of the world so much,” the renowned ice climber says. “There’s a lot to do now. You can go places that you can’t walk, and you fly a paraglider through them and come out the other side. Alright, where in the world can you do that? And the answer is: There’s a lot of places in the world where we could do this.”

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.