Leo Grillmair is a warm and charming man with a love of song and good company. For many years he has been Hans Gmoser's faithful friend and confidante, a quiet presence at the fringe of the Canadian Mountain Holiday empire.
Leo grew up in Austria in a family of ten children. In 1945, at the age of 15, he was being trained in mountain warfare when the war ended. For the next six years he explored the mountains of Austria an northern Italy, then in 1951 he immigrated to Canada with Gmoser. Recently he joked, "The last great decision I made was to come to Canada, after that Hans took over and made the decisions."
Grillmair is best known for his ascent in 1952 of Grillmair Chimneys on Yamnuska. a climb that began the modern era of rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains. In 1957 he climbed Diretissima, a seminal route in its day. In 1958 he made the third ascent of Mount Alberta, and in 1963 he joined Gmoser in the epic expedition to Wickersham Wall on Mount McKinley.
Leo was trained as a plumber and this paid the bills while he and Hans built up the guiding business. In 1967 he was in charge of construction of Bugaboo Lodge, and for the next 25 years was its manager and head guide. Today he lives a pleasant life in retirement in Brisco, B.C., cycling cross country skiing and travelling the world.
-courtesy Chic Scott; "Pushing the Limits"