AIARE 1 w/ Hannah

Hannah was a recipient of the 2020 scholarship for outdoor education.

I started skiing when I was 18 months, and have been riding ever since, learning new skills and working towards more difficult terrain.  Last season I got to a point where I was able to ski everything in bounds, and I was yearning for a new challenge.  I knew about backcountry skiing and had seen people skiing lines, but I never thought it was attainable.  It always seemed so foreign and scary that I didn’t think I could ever do it myself. 

When corona first hit, I saw so many more people going out and skiing backcountry, so it got me thinking and I began doing some research. As soon as I started watching videos and seeing lines, I had my mind set on starting my journey, and from that moment on I was addicted to figuring out how I could make the dream a reality.  I knew it wouldn’t be overnight, and I would need to slowly acquire gear as I saved up, and that’s exactly what I did.  As I got closer to being able to get out there, I knew I would need to take an avalanche education course before setting out; as excited as I was I knew there was a huge risk factor involved.  I still had to save a big chunk of money so I had to put the plans on hold. 

One of my friends who I reached out to when I started looking into backcountry sent me the Backcountry Squatters scholarship opportunity and I knew this would be an incredible opportunity to get the funding to make this reality.  When I got the email saying I was chosen, I was in awe, I was grateful beyond words because I knew this meant finally skiing in the backcountry! 

I chose a course in Colorado through Colorado Mountain School —  The class was everything I expected and more.  The things I learned are absolutely invaluable and gave me the confidence I need to go out with friends.  The class was one day online (due to Covid) and two days in the field, where we learned everything from how to decide where to go for the day based on weather and snow conditions, how to safely assess terrain, how to manage group dynamics, to how to make a chair with skis to be comfortable during breaks.  We learned the essential skills for safety, as well as the importance of taking care of yourself on the trails to make sure you can have the best experience possible. 

There was so much information that you never even think about that is put into practice throughout the field days.  All the questions I had were all answered, and the fear of the unknown was put to rest as my instructors taught each lesson and demonstrated how to do it in real life. 

I loved every part of the class and made some awesome friends as well who are just as excited as I am to get out there.  One of my favorite things was that we actually got to ski some awesome powder when we were out there, which made the hours of pit digging all worth it.  I can not recommend backcountry skiing enough, and I truly am grateful to have had this opportunity to learn how to execute a successful tour.

This is just the beginning of my journey, I know there is so much more to learn, and so much more snow to ski!  I truly would not have been able to do this without Backcountry Squatters and their amazing team/ community.  If you told 5 year old me that I would be skiing some of the same lines that I was in awe of people skiing off of Loveland pass, I would not believe you.  I hope this can inspire you to get out there as well and try new outdoor activities even if it seems impossible because I did it and it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done!

–Hannah Hamid
2020 Scholarship Recipient

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