As owner of Backcountry Babes, Emily develops trips and works hard to make them come to life. Emily loves the spirit of outdoor adventure travel and especially loves sharing it with others. She finds our women’s trips have a special power to foster camaraderie, confidence, creativity, freedom, education, and fun. She is grateful to be working on the leadership team at Backcountry Babes, humbled by the beautiful energy of our educators and students, and proud to be building a framework for more women to become leaders in the outdoors.
Emily has been guiding wilderness trips for the past 10 years. She has a strong passion for environmental outdoor education, and has instructed backpacking courses for Chadwick School, Crossroads School, and the Stevenson School and the Athenian School. An avid rider, she has led cycling adventures in Spain, Maine, Catalonia, Costa Rica, Vermont, and Quebec. She has led programs for Adventures Cross Country and outdoor recreation trips at Colorado College.
On the rare occasions when Emily stops traveling, she lives in Tahoe City and enjoys all the skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, and great time with outdoor people it offers. In addition to backcountry skiing, she loves desserts of any kind, hanging out with dogs, making art, practicing yoga, picking berries and getting out on rivers in the summertime. Looking forward to sharing an adventure together!
My first experience with Backcountry Babes was an Avalanche course in Alaska. Students and instructors were all such inspiring women and the places we got to explore in Alaska were unforgettable!
Kirstin has been working as a ski patroller at Breckenridge Ski Resort since 2008 and received her Paramedic certification in 2012. Kirstin has been teaching outdoor education since she was 16 and is especially empowered by working with women aspiring to become more skilled in the outdoors. She has been with Backcountry Babes for 11 years now; starting as an intern in college and diligently working up to the fully certified Avalanche professional and educator she is today.
As an AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) qualified instructor with Backcountry Babes, she is passionate about educating women in safe travel and skiing in the backcountry. Kirstin loves everything about a good adventure from ski mountaineering to trail running, mountain biking, surfing, climbing, canoeing and sailing, and never passes up an opportunity for exploring new places. She also has a bit of a traveling bug that she caught in college and is always looking for new and interesting opportunities to add another stamp to her passport.
She finds strength in fresh air, beautiful scenery and laughter, and you will find her wearing pink overall snow pants, a smile, and an i-pod with everything from classic rock to female folk singers, reggae and hip-hop, as she travels the winter backcountry. Kirstin is very excited to be Backcountry Babe’s Colorado Programs Manager as she brings a lot of contagious and fun energy to an organization that she believes provides abundant personal growth to women all around the country.
The Canada hut trip is my favorite. The entire experience of flying in a helicopter over the Canadian Rockies then landing at a sweet little hut in the middle of the mountains with blankets of white enticing terrain everywhere is awesome. This trip has something for everyone; endless powder, low angle fun turns, steep trees, wide open bowls, and fun glades.
Of course, the snow pillows were my favorite. It was like being a kid in a candy shop skiing those soft snow pillows. I love the whole day spent skiing sweet lines, and then following it up with a hot sauna, amazing food, and hanging out with incredible women. It’s the perfect way to spend a week of your winter!
Sarah grew up nordic skiing in Anchorage, and now lives in Valdez with her husband and two boys. Sarah is the lead avalanche instructor for Backcountry Babes in Alaska and has been involved in the avalanche community since 1997. She stays busy in avalanche work as avalanche education coordinator for the Alaska Avalanche Information Center and forecaster for the Valdez Avalanche Center. She has worked on ski patrols in British Columbia and Alaska, and with snow safety for a mechanized operation. With a lifelong journey to learn, Sarah has presented and collaborated on several posters for the International Snow Science Workshop.
Saying Sarah loves the snow is an understatement, so when it all melts, she follows the water on rafts, kayaks, and sailboats.
Nancy works for Babes as an AIARE avalanche instructor and a steeps ski instructor. She is a competitive Big Mountain Freeskier and also enjoys judging the Lake Tahoe Junior Freeride Tour each winter. Nancy splits her time between Squaw Valley, CA and Girdwood, AK because she can’t figure out which perfect place to call home. She also loves to travel and follows her skis to South America, Europe, or wherever the snow and climbing may call.
When not on skis, Nancy loves mountain biking and fly-fishing, and hauls big Alaskan salmon and halibut in with the best of them. When she has to go back to work, Nancy moonlights as a civil engineer. Despite her diversity of interesting qualities, it is Nancy’s fun nature and infectious laugh you will remember the most.
A long time Alaskan resident, Brooke Edwards has been involved with the ski industry on multiple levels for going on two decades. She first received her Avalanche Level 1 certification from the Alaska Avalanche School in 1997 in Hatcher Pass and it was that course that made her decision to move to Alaska fulltime. Since then she has been engaged in the avalanche community as a board member for F-CNFAIC, an avalanche observer, a NOLS instructor, an avalanche instructor for Alaska Avalanche School, an alpine and telemark ski instructor at Alyeska Resort, a Backcountry Babes Steeps Clinic facilitator and Director of Stoke for Chugach Powder Guides. Brooke spends her time when she’s not skiing, guiding rafting, backpacking, sea-kayaking and hiking in Alaska and abroad.
Maeve grew up skiing in Vermont and has a long history of ski racing and competition. She landed on the Freeski circuit from 1995-2000, where she had several top ten finishes. We know she is “bad-ass” and it was proven in 2000 when she was crowned the “Bad-Ass Freeskiing Champion” & Overall Series Winner at Berthoud Pass, CO. Maeve eventually moved her “bad-ass” self from the competitive Freeski circuit to sharing her passion with other women by coaching and instructing women’s steeps and freeskiing clinics.
During this time, Maeve also fell in love with the backcountry in Colorado and completed her AIARE Level 2 Avalanche certification and started working as an Avalanche Awareness instructor on Berthoud Pass. Still not enough for Maeve, she put herself back in college to follow another passion of hers, Landscape Architecture. With dreams of living in Alaska, she made that happen in 2012 when she found her dream job as a Planner and Landscape Architect for the Muncipality of Anchorage Parks.
She now lives in Alaska and helps build mountain bike trails for Anchorage (another passion of hers) and skis whenever she can. Not able to leave ski instructing behind, she gets her coaching and mentoring fix by working with Backcountry Babes as Backcountry Basics 101 instructor and Steeps and Freeride clinic coach. Maeve’s candid, sassy, and exuberant energy along with her supportive, “you can do this, girl!” attitude bring together her unique and knowledgeable style that we love.
A lifelong Alaskan, Leighan has been playing in the snow since she was tiny. During an 8-year stint as a ski patroller, she learned a lot about explosives and even more about the avalanche phenomenon. She has had an AIARE Level 3 Avalanche Certificate since 2006, is an AIARE and Alaska Avalanche School Level I Instructor, professional member of the American Avalanche Association, and AMGA mountain guide. Her winters are filled with avalanche instruction, long South American guiding epics, and gigs as a heli ski guide or mountaineering and backcountry guide in Alaska. Summer finds her still searching out snow on North America’s highest peak, where she has been working as a mountain guide on Denali for many seasons now. Known for spending the entire summer in the Alaska Range, she is one of the area’s most prolific female climbers and ski mountaineers, and in 2008 had the fortune to ski the summit of the big mountain.
All this talk just makes Leighan blush though, as she is known for her sincere humility and respect of the big mountains. Despite her accomplishments as a climber, guide, and now commercial pilot and mom, Leighan is a really experienced, knowledgeable, and just terrifically fun Babe to hang out with.
Aleph grew up in Vermont exploring the woods on her cross-country skis. She fell in love with snow, and eventually moved out west and foundered a bigger love for avalanche studies at Prescott College. During her career she has garnered experience as a highway avalanche forecaster, a backcountry avalanche forecaster, a ski patroller, and ski guide.
She is the former director of the Silverton Avalanche School, an American Avalanche Association Certified Instructor, and AIARE Level 2 instructor. She has worked in many of the western states, experienced different snow climates, and spent a summer patrolling in New Zealand. Aleph has been part of the Babes team in Colorado since 2002, but recently moved from the San Juan Mountains to Alaska, and is the now the Executive Director of the Alaska Avalanche School and the ethics co-chair for the American Avalanche Association.
When the snow melts away, Aleph finds herself sitting on her bike cruising the trails of the Utah backcountry and working as mountain bike guide. Beyond all that extensive outdoor and avalanche safety experience, Aleph is just a fun and wonderful woman to be around, and she loves helping her students learn to have their own opinion about the snow and be part of the decision-making process.
Originally a Pennsylvania native, Anne St. Clair migrated west on a cross-country road cycling adventure. She eventually landed in Breckenridge, Colorado in 2006 where she discovered her love of backcountry skiing. Anne now works as snow safety director and lead guide for Powder Addiction cat-skiing and as an AIARE certified Level 1 and Level 2 instructor. She finds the untracked mountains and the women who seek to explore them endlessly inspiring, and she is grateful for the opportunity to combine education and powder turns with these Backcountry Babes.
When she’s not in search of powder and sticking her head in the snow, Anne migrates to the desert southwest to work as a mountain bike guide for Magpie Cycling in Moab, UT. With her interests in public outreach and education, Anne also presents the CAIC Know Before You Go avalanche education program to area youth and works as a mountain bike coach for Maverick Sports Junior Mountain Bike League, the VIDA MTB series, and as a volunteer for The Cycle Effect.
Most importantly, Anne is a Cancer, her spirit animal is a buffalo, and her favorite breakfast is huevos rancheros.
Emily grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where cross-country skiing and snowmobiling were the only reliable ways of transportation. She found her way out west in 1993 and hasn’t left. Emily is a PSIA level 3 Telemark and Alpine instructor at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, CO and works as the Backcountry Babes’ lead ski instructor.
When the ski season ends, Emily moves her trusty Airstream trailer to Moab, UT where she works as a multi-day mountain bike guide across the wild west. She also leads an annual mountain bike trip for Backcountry Babes. Rest time for Emily means hot springs and relaxing in her 1970 Airstream trailer that she calls home.
Sarah lives in Breckenridge where she is a real estate broker, but her biggest passions are telemark skiing and fly-fishing. Sarah has been a telemark instructor at Breckenridge Ski Resort for five years and has a level two Nordic teaching certification. Also, an Orvis endorsed fly fishing guide, Sarah runs learn to fly fish programs for women and recently helped start a learn to fly fish program for underserved kids in Summit County through the Snowboard Outreach Society.
Janine grew up on a farm in southeast Washington State, learning to ski on the Palouse hills. Janine’s love for the outdoors brought her to Colorado to explore the mountains and work and study in the outdoors.
Janine has worked in Colorado and Oregon guiding rafting, rock climbing, leading alpine skills, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing. Janine has worked 10+ years at Monarch Mountain Ski Resort, as a ski patroller, snow-cat guide, and Assistant Ski Patrol Director. There, she developed her skills as an EMT, forecasting (weather and avalanche), avalanche mitigation, explosive route leading, snow safety director, and risk manager. Janine has been active in the American Avalanche Information Research & Education progression, completing Avalanche Levels 1 & 2 and becoming an instructor (ITC) for AIARE avalanche courses.
In the summer months, Janine is busy in her garden, fitting in as many river miles as she can, and riding single track. She currently works for the Forest Service in Fairplay, Colorado. Janine believes in empowering women, building lasting networks, and having fun.
Eryka loves Winter. In fact her daughter’s name is Wynter. Growing up along the frigid, arctic-like shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Eryka learned the value of nature and outdoor education. She fell head over heels for snow, leading her to study at Montana State in Bozeman. She spent 12 years ski patrolling at Big Sky Ski Resort Eldora Ski Resort in Colorado, and studied climate change as an anthropologist in graduate school. Eryka began guiding in 2007 in diverse environments including the Central American tropics, Rocky Mountain rivers, the Cascade mountains, glaciers and the ice sheets of Greenland.
As a 16-year old, Eryka was inspired by watching her mom and ten others plan and execute the first all-women’s ski expedition to the North Pole. This was monumental in her life and is a catalyst for her own work in promoting and enjoying the outdoors with ladies. To this day her favorite place to be is surrounded by a group of women in the winter world.
Duke has worked full-time with the Breckenridge Ski Patrol since 2001 and now serves as their Snow Safety Director. He loves playing in the mountains with friends- especially on skis. Whether chasing dogs while towing kids on nordic skis, getting weird with friends on hut trips, problem solving on a windy ridge during an avalanche control route, or geeking out in a rando race with skinny skis and tight clothes, the magic of the mountains makes it all special. Duke became a certified AIARE I instructor a few years ago out of an interest in paying forward the knowledge that’s been shared with him over the years, continuing to learn from others, and making new friends in the process.
Kelli is a second generation Colorado ski addict. Growing up alpine and Nordic racing, Kelli fell into the wonderful world of telemarking after breaking her pelvis and no longer being able to find her groove alpine skiing. After years of failing around in the backcountry and figuring out how to drop a knee, Kelli came across the Telemark Extremes where she scored some sweet prizes. Kelli met Leslie Ross at the Extremes which has led to a long Babes friendship and given Kelli the opportunity to work with Babes in the Backcountry.
Kelli has experienced a variety of fun activities over the years including coaching alpine, Nordic and freeride youth teams, mountain bike and adventure racing, massage therapist, landscaper, teaching kayak and mountain bike classes and geeking out online shopping for socks and jackets. Currently dedicated to becoming an AIARE avalanche instructor, Kelli spends the majority of her winters in the back country doing her best to get blissfully lost. Kelli also enjoys cuddling up with her husband and dog, a box of wine and a great movie circa the ’80s.
Patti is pretty much addicted to anything that gets her outdoors, and loves to share her knowledge and enthusiasm to anyone she is in contact with. She has been teaching telemark, alpine, and cross-country skiing, (and now snowboarding) for over 30 years. In the summers she spends much of her time running rivers, mountain biking, backpacking, and gardening.
Leslie loves the free heel feel. Introduced to Telemark skiing on a NOLS winter camping trip in 1990, Leslie was hooked. She took her passions into the Free Skiing comps and earned the title of 3-time Nations Telemark Free Skiing Champion. From there Leslie founded Babes in the Backcountry and is passionate about teaching women the skills to allow them to head into the backcountry safely and confidently.
Leslie helped open Meta Yoga studio in Breckenridge Colorado and enjoys teaching how to bring yoga into all aspects of your life. Other than a free heel and yogi-full life, Leslie also loves hot springs and backcountry skiing with friends.
Casey grew up skiing in the north east and has always been motivated and inspired by mountains both snowy and rocky. After moving to Colorado in 2009, he quickly found his passion for backcountry skiing, ski mountaineering, and avalanche study and has been working his way through the guiding and avalanche education industries ever since. Casey has been a rock, rafting, and backcountry ski guide in the southwest for 8 years, is pursuing full AMGA certification as a Ski and Rock Guide, and is a certified AIARE Level 1 Instructor. In between teaching AIARE courses and guiding for other companies, he holds down a full time job as the Program Director and Head Guide for the Air Force Academy’s Outdoor Adventure Program, taking military members and their families out rock and ice climbing, whitewater rafting, mountaineering, and of course, on backcountry ski tours and hut trips. Casey is passionate about teaching others the skills they need to stay safe and have fun in the mountains, and loves to share his time both personally and professionally with folks who just want to have fun in the snow and get out into the wild.
Born in rural, western Japan, Norie Kizaki was raised in the Buddhist monastery her family has administered for generations. A graduate of Tokyo’s prestigious Obirin University, Norie moved to Colorado 1996 and earned a masters degree in International Intercultural Communications from Denver University. Leaving behind a successful consulting career, Norie turned her passion for guiding into her profession.
Norie is an American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Certified Rock Guide, AMGA assistant ski guide and an AIARE 1 Instructor. She has led rock climbing and mountaineering courses for Outward Bound throughout the mountain west. Norie was a member of the 2005 50th Anniversary Women’s Himalayan Expedition, has competed in the Ouray Ice Festival’s speed competition, and her love of rock and ice climbing has taken her to Bolivia, Cayman Brac, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Thailand, and (hopefully!) many more beautiful places to come.
When not guiding, Norie enjoys climbing or backcountry skiing with her husband, trail running with girlfriends, cooking (and eating!) Japanese meals, and planning her next adventure!
Lel Tone put on her first pair of skis at age two, and it’s been tough getting her out of them ever since. By the time she graduated college, she made the conscious decision to keep the skis on her feet, thus making it much more difficult to work at a desk. Following her dream, Lel now works part of the ski season in Tahoe, CA as a ski patroller and assistant avalanche forecaster for Squaw Valley. She then heads north to Alaska in the spring to work (if you want to call it that) as a helicopter ski guide for Chugach Powder Guides. Lel has made a living learning to be safe and keep others safe in the snow. Her great talents have also made her a sponsored professional skier for First Ascent, and one of the few women to be featured in a Warren Miller Film.
But beyond her great feats in the world of skiing and avalanche safety, Lel is just a genuine sweetheart! She has a passion for giving and sharing with others that makes you want to be her best friend. She is our Lead AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Instructor in California, and we idolize her because she is everything that represents a great mentor in the world of women’s sports.
Crystal Winn is a Lake Tahoe native who has tried living in other environments and finds she is never quite as happy as she is in the mountains. She has professionally Ski Patrolled at Squaw Valley for 7 years, is a Licensed Avalanche Blaster, has her OEC Certification, is an AIARE course instructor, backcountry skier and one of the kindest and most humble adventurers you’ll ever meet. When she’s not on the mountain skiing, she enjoys downhill mountain bike riding, incorporating yoga in some aspect every day, climbing, hiking, and spending quality time with friends and family. She also looks forward to drinking a cup of coffee in the morning before an adventure and toasting to a beer well earned in the evening.
Rosie grew up in Vermont and has strong New England roots…Go Red Sox! Right after college, she migrated west for big mountains and bluebird powder days. Rosie loves any and all ways she can play in the mountains. She has dedicated the past 20 years to field instruction, curriculum design, environmental stewardship, and leadership development, and is a fervent believer in the power of outdoor adventure education to change and enrich lives. Her extensive and varied field experience includes instructing/guiding sailing, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting/kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, avalanche science, and outdoor leadership for schools and organizations all over the world.
Beyond Backcountry Babes, Rosie is the Director of the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program at Sierra Nevada College. She is also an Associate Professor in the program. Her mission is to empower her students to become “growth” junkies, passionate leaders, competent outdoor professionals, and lifelong environmental stewards.
On her days off, Rosie can usually be found skiing, surfing, climbing or biking with her husband, Bret, her two children, Ruby and Van, and her dog, Osa, near her home in South Lake Tahoe or in a far away place.
Erin grew up in rural Colorado and has always had a love of mountain environments. That love brought her to find work at different ski destinations all over the West including Wolf Creek, Colorado; Tamarack, Idaho; and now Tahoe, California. She also pursued the ‘endless winter’ as a ski guiding in Chile. When she takes a break from all those winters, she loves to spend time on rivers as a raft guide.
Erin brings a breadth of experience as a former ski patroller, rock/ice and ski guide, wilderness medicine instructor and EMT to her role as an avalanche instructor. She is always up for an adventure, big or small, but especially when she can bring her dog, Willow, along!
John Littleton grew up in Chicago, Illinois and started skiing the rugged mountains of the Midwest at the age of seven. His passion for skiing and snowy mountains never subsided, even after college in Iowa and a stint in the U.S. Navy. John’s passion for a career in the mountains led him to Lake Tahoe in 2002 as a Professional Ski Patroller at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Since 2009, John has lived on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and has been a member of the Squaw Valley Ski Patrol. He is both an Avalanche Control Route Leader and Licensed Avalanche Blaster.
John has taught experiential education courses to both youth and adults. He holds his AIARE Level 3 Certification and is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association. He is most proud of being an AIARE Lead Instructor for avalanche safety instruction. John has been an EMT and currently maintains his OEC certification. He wants to empower his clients with the skills to get themselves there and back.
Shannon is a consummate adventurer. She spends her winter months as a professional ski patroller, ski guide, snow safety training officer and avalanche educator. She learned to ski at a young age with her siblings in Utah. She loves the ski lifestyle because it allows her to work outside, help people, and solve unique problems everyday.
Shannon spends her summer months working on the river as a whitewater kayak guide and instructor. Her skills as a teacher are unrivaled. Her genuine love for mountains and rivers radiates from her and touches all aspects of the courses she teaches.
Sarah began splitboarding after years of competing in half pipe, slope style, and border cross contests for her college Women’s Snowboard Team. In the more recent years Sarah spends most of her time on her splitboard in the backcountry. In the summer she is a blueberry farmer and a Lead Guide for Pocono Whitewater where she guides rafts while kayaking. In the fall she tries to travel. She has spent a time surfing the coast of Brazil, trekking in Nepal, kayaking the Mae Wong River in Thailand, and backpacking in Northern India. Sarah is a nationally certified remote EMT and a certified MPIC.
Sarah appreciates a good laugh, a good conversation, and good views. Her favorite part about being an avalanche educator is sharing the knowledge she has as well as learning from others. She is excited to be a part of an organization focused on building a community of strong, confident, educated women in the outdoors.
Kristina is our go-to guide for our Canada trips. Her wealth of local knowledge is incredible. Kristina has been ski guiding since 2000. She is an ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) ski guide and a CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance) Level 2 instructor. Before ski guiding, she instructed backcountry courses for Outward Bound in Canada, the US and South America.
When not skiing, Kristina can be found spending time with her family and growing vegetables in her garden in Revelstoke, BC. Kristina loves guiding, loves skiing powder, and is really wonderful at sharing her passion for skiing and backcountry knowledge.
Emily lives, works and plays in the mountains near Nelson and Revelstoke, BC. Her ski career has taken her all over the world, from South America to New Zealand, Canada and the US. She has played many roles as an instructor, ski school director, avalanche course instructor, instructor course evaluator, ACMG assistant ski guide, and a full time position with the Canadian Avalanche Association.
She shares her experience as a telemark and alpine ski instructor with her students, giving excellent instruction to help make backcountry skiing even more fun. With an extensive teaching background with Outward Bound, Treble Cone Ski Resort, Whitewater Winter Resort, and the Canadian Avalanche Association, she is excited to share her passion for the mountain environment with Backcountry Babes, send women home with a stronger mountain sense, as well as share many a powdery turn.
Chika’s warm smile, cheerful attitude and unrelenting enthusiasm for skiing make her a perfect fit as a member of the Backcountry Babes team. Chika guides backcountry skiers in Hokkaido and Hakuba in the winter, leads hiking excursions in the summer, and teaches wilderness medicine courses throughout the year. She became a backcountry ski guide after years of ski patrolling endless winters in Japan and New Zealand. She is a JMGA certified ski guide and a member of the Japan Avalanche Network, the organization responsible for informing the public about avalanche safety in Japan.
After a long day of skiing you can find Chika soaking in a Japanese onsen (hot spring), her favorite way to relax. The thing she loves most about about guiding in Japan? Getting to ski the deepest powder in the world, of course.