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Meet the “Dream Team”: James MacNeil-Mah
Familiar face in Canmore for the last few years, we have the incredible chance to work with James MacNeil Mah at SkiUphill. Total apparel geek, climber, runner, baker, barista, James bring that special touch that makes SkiUphill a great place to hang out. The thing that strikes me with him is that he is such a passionate guy and he just loves talking about enjoying the outdoors. Whether it is for running/skiing advice, climbing beta or avalanche conditions, he is always super stoked to share experiences and informations over a warm coffee!
Where are you from?
I am originally from Edmonton but moved around Alberta throughout my childhood.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I consider myself an explorer. Whether it is getting to know new areas or the depths of my own personal “suffering”. Learning new things about the world around me and myself has driven me to where I am now.
What sports did you practice as a child?
I grew up skateboarding but that was mostly because of my friend group. I found competition rock climbing when I was 16 years old. This was a pivotal point in my life because it gave me a focus that I had found all on my own. I was lucky enough to be placed on a team where I was immersed with other like minded young adults. Many of my teammates became my nearest and dearest.
What brought you to the mountains?
My family has always made a point to take frequent trips to the mountains. Once I had an opportunity to move to Canmore I jumped. I had just started trail running and was addicted. I would drive ( often alone ) twice a week just to run anything that would get me above tree line. Making the move made sense, use less fuel, run more mountains.
What “personal touch” do you bring to SkiUphill?
I have was raised in retail... sorta. My father has had a career in many aspects of outdoor retail. I have always been interested in the apparel aspect of existing in the mountains. I have fond memories of feeling different tech fabrics with my father and discussing how it works and why we use it. These questions are still at the core of my gear selecting process.
What draws you to trail running?
I always joke that I'm not a trail runner. I am a mountain jogger. Since my background is from climbing I am very used to a heavy pack for most if not all of the day. Once I started my jogging career it was enlightening to ditch the pack for a vest or better yet fanny pack. The feeling of not being bogged down by tons of gear had me hooked real quick. Mountain Jogging (trail running) offers you so much freedom. All you need is a pair of shoes and the world is your playground. I am constantly surprised by how much terrain you can explore with such little relative effort. I think that is what keeps my back on the trails.
What is your favourite area to ski?
Narao Glades has been on the top of my mind since we went there a couple weeks ago. That entire area is so captivating. I plan to spend much more time in the Lake O’hara area this winter.
What are your other hobbies/interests?
Another interest I have once it gets cold is ice and mixed climbing. When I am not pretending to be a mountaineer you can find me in the kitchen kneading dough. Generally while I am playing patisserie chef I watch cooking shows.
What’s your ideal day out in the mountains?
I love long days. That’s about it. I enjoy sharing these long days with people but have had many enriching days being alone for many hours on end. In the winter all I pray for is a safe snowpack. And in the summer all I want is warm temps to break out the split shorts.
What is your ski setup this Winter?
SkiTrab Magico 164cm with the Kreuzspitze GT binding. I am on a full Mohair SkiTrab skin ( oh man they are so fast and grippy ). And the Fischer Travers carbon boots. Not only is my setup crazy light on the uptrack but it has amazing ski performance on the downs. If you haven't heard of SkiTrab look them up! Or come to shop and check them out. Such a neat company out of Italy.
What is your go-to running shoe?
I have just ordered the Inov-8 Trailtalon 290. Super stoked to run in these this summer. I generally run in more cushioned shoes so the Trailtalon should fit the bill.
I am a sucker for any espresso based drink. But a traditional cappuccino is my jam.