Mountain Mentors facilitates mentorship relationships for women who wish to progress in backcountry sports. Our inspiring mentors are a blueprint of possibility and are empowering the next generation of female outdoor leaders in BC & beyond. So far, we’ve facilitated mentorships for over 120 women in Vancouver & the Sea to Sky corridor, and have our sights set on expanding to new communities and expanding our program in the coming years.
This spring, a dear friend and mentor of mine, Rosie Langford, set out with me on our self-proclaimed “spring shred in the states”. Our goal of the trip was to ski some volcanoes, drink some craft beer, climb some stuff, ride some bikes, and have a darn good time doing it (and not necessarily in that order).
Our first objective was to summit and ski the Southwest Chutes on Mount Adams, the third highest peak in the Cascade Range (3742m), in one day. This necessitated a 2am wake-up call after a sleepless night in a nearby horse camp, and an added 8km slog through a snowed-in road to reach the Cold Springs Trailhead. We were incredibly lucky to set out on a sunny day with rolling cloud cover and made great time as we worked our way across to Suksdorf Ridge. When we reached the false summit at Pikers Peak around 11am, things were starting to warm up, and although the summit was tantalizingly close (less than 200m of vertical to go), we decided that dropping into the Southwest Chutes before they experienced significant warming was preferable to summiting and skiing down our up track.
Skiing the 1200m 30-45 degree pitch of the Southwest Chutes route off Piker’s Peak was a surreal experience. When we dropped in, it was sunny and quickly warming. However, within minutes, we were engulfed in cloud, and descending in a complete and utterly vertigo-inducing white out. By the time we emerged from the clouds we still had hundreds of meters of tasty spring corn left to ski, untouched by the crowds who were deterred by the extra-long approach. The added distance may have added to the slog of the day, but it kept the crowds away, and allowed us to bask in the glory of being the only party that day to ski this iconic line.
Completing my objective would not have been possible without a co-mentorship relationship. Wise beyond her years, Rosie embodies the qualities of an ideal mountain mentor: she is highly trained in avalanche research, rope rescue, and first aid, extremely fit, and probably most importantly, a kind, thoughtful, and fun-loving friend. Rosie brings out the best in me when operating in the mountains, reminds me that a little bit of fear is okay, and motivates me to push through my pain. Prior to the trip, we spent hours practicing crevasse rescue and scenarios, as well as discussing avalanche hazard and route-finding to maximize our level of comfort while in the mountains. With mentors like Rosie, the possibility of progression in the mountains truly feels like a ‘mountain with no top’.
The rest of our trip was filled with more volcanoes (we summited Mount Saint Helens two days later), bike rides in Hood River and Leavenworth, climbing near Icicle Creek, American “cultural experiences”, and a copious number of breweries. We even met up with another Mountain Mentors Co-Founder, Thea Zerbe, on our Mount Saint Helens summit! We returned home nursing a major caloric deficit, but with the warmest of memories, filled with stoke to return for the volcanoes we left behind.
About Brett Trainor: