Skier and Seven Summits Climber Johnny Collinson Joins Team Momentous
When your dad is a ski patrol director, your sister is arguably the best skier of her generation, and you live amidst some of the best powder in North America, you’re on a path to following them up into the mountains. This was certainly the case with Johnny Collinson, who was one of those kids that was on skis from the time he could walk.
“My dad was a huge skier and my mom was this awesome endurance athlete,” Johnny said. “Since me and my sister were tiny, my dad always had us at the mountains. So we were gaining all this experience and knowledge. It was engrained in our DNA.”
While his peers were learning to count and master their ABCs, young Johnny was already starting to rip in Snowbird, Utah, where his family lived at the base of the mountain. During the summer, the Collinsons would load up a ’79 Ford Econoline van and road trip all over the country. Their typical stop was a big climb somewhere in the West, and Johnny summitted Mount Rainier at age four, before also knocking off Mount Shasta, Mount Whitney, and Mount Hood. 13 years later, he became the youngest person ever to complete the Seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent. For good measure, he skied down from the top of three of them: Vinson Massif, Denali, and Elbrus. Johnny was so proficient and indefatigable in the Himalayas that locals began calling him “white Sherpa.”
“The whole thing started with Everest because since I was little, we were always camping and climbing mountains and I thought Everest was the pinnacle of any mountain you could climb,” Johnny said. “I got to know some of the guys who worked ski patrol with my dad and after we’d climbed together, they realized I was pretty strong. We came up with the idea of climbing Everest, and the Seven Summits just sort of fell into place around that.”
Going Off the Grid
Johnny and his sister, Angel, also continued to hurtle down steep slopes, and did so with considerable skill. The same year that he finished the Seven Summits, Johnny was crowned Junior Freeskiing Tour champion. This led to a spot on the Freeride World Tour and garnered the attention of big-name sponsors like Red Bull, The North Face, Faction, and Teton Gravity Research (TGR). Appearing in numerous TGR films, Johnny’s bold performance in Almost Ablaze (in which Angel became the first woman to open a TGR movie and won numerous awards) won the Best Powder segment at the 2014 Powder Awards.
“I started to win a bunch of backcountry competitions and found some sponsors and that's when my skiing career really started when I was 17 or 18,” Johnny said. “And since then I've been fortunate to work with amazing companies, sponsors, and film crews, getting to travel the world skiing cool mountains. After the Seven Summits, I wanted to focus my efforts on skiing back down every mountain I climbed.”
Over the next few years, Johnny continued to blaze new lines on peaks far and wide. In addition to achieving success in prestigious events like Red Bull Cold Rush (where he claimed second place), Johnny kept pushing himself in the backcountry and started exploring more remote corners of the globe. And it’s this combination of skiing skills that makes Johnny so unique — while most skiers specialize in either Freestyle skiing or big mountain skiing, Johnny’s upbringing guided him up to develop a passion and skillset for both.
His dynamic style on such trips seemed to be tailormade for the camera, and he opened the highly acclaimed TGR film Tight Loose. Johnny also showed off his full repertoire – sweeping turns, crisp flips, and fearless drop-ins – closer to home in Utah during a can’t-look-away segment in Faction’s This is Home.
Finding the Way Back
No matter how competent a skier is, when you’re hurtling down a mountainside at warp speed with rocks, downed trees, and other obstacles often buried just below the snow’s surface, it’s not a question of if you’ll eventually take a tumble, but when. So it was for Johnny when he landed awkwardly in April 2018 while trying to stick a jump in Revelstoke, British Columbia, and heard his right knee pop. He knew instantly that the injury was severe, and doctors soon confirmed that he’d torn his ACL. The fix? Two surgeries and months of physical therapy.
“The small steps are big right now, like getting my range of motion and my balance back and getting all the muscles firing again – I’m still in an early stage of recovery,” Johnny said.
We’d been tracking Johnny’s exploits for a long time, and when we heard about his determined fight to get back onto skis, it was a no-brainer to add him to our team of Momentous ambassadors. Four weeks after his second knee operation, Johnny is making nutrition a cornerstone of his recovery, and is drinking daily shakes containing chocolate Momentous ArcFire and unflavored Momentous AbsoluteZero grass-fed whey protein. Ever the optimist, he’s already looking ahead to a spring 2020 trip to South America.
“I’m focused on getting down to Bolivia next year,” Johnny said. “It's a mix of everything – camping, high altitude, and ski mountaineering. There’s also the potential to ski some really cool stuff.”
Looking back on his favorite trips has also been a way to stay motivated and excited about the winter season ahead.
“One of my favorite off-the-grid places is Greenland,” Johnny said. “I’ve had the chance to go there twice now and it's so majestic. You feel like you're the first person to have ever been anywhere. It’s fresh and untainted. I also love Alaska and the wild feeling it has.”
Keep an eye here for more coverage on Johnny’s recovery back to full health and the details that are making all the difference in his rehab.