2020-2021 Mentees

Erin Hennessy (she/her/hers)

Currently, I live in Portland and work for Quantum Spatial processing environmental and remote sensing data. In spring of 2020, I graduated from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Climate Science and a certificate in GIS. I grew skiing in the Front Range of Colorado and have spent the last couple of years developing my skills as a backcountry skier. Last winter I was a participant in this program, taking my AIARE 1 for the first time, and I am thrilled to be a part of this experience again and connect with more women interested in backcountry recreation.

In my free time not spent on skis, I enjoy reading books, running the trails in Forest Park, mountain biking, and volunteering with local watershed councils working on stream restoration projects. I am passionate about connecting with people and helping communities to improve their resiliency to increasingly variable precipitation and water resources, especially in regions that rely heavily on snowpack as a water resource. My dream is to combine my degree, data analysis experience, and passion for playing in the snow into a career in Snow Hydrology.

Alyssa Young (she/her/hers)

Alyssa Young grew up in the rolling hills of Northern California and now calls the North Cascades her home. She loves moving through the mountains, and is especially inspired and motivated by sharing these experiences with others. Alyssa was introduced to snow science as a student at Prescott College and quickly fell in love with the intricacies and breadth of the field. She is especially interested in risk psychology, decision making, and feminist leadership theory.

Since then she has worked as an avalanche educator for Prescott College and the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center, published a paper on the effectiveness of long-format avalanche education at ISSW, and dedicated herself to backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering throughout the west. She is constantly striving to be a more effective educator and ski partner, and to deepen her knowledge of the landscapes she travels through. When not in the snow, Alyssa oscillates between working as a mountain guide, outdoor educator, and making trips south to guide horsepacking trips in Argentine Patagonia. Alyssa loves natural history, crafting, social and environmental justice, and wild places.

Isabelle Eelnurme (she/her/hers)

I am studying civil engineering at the University of Washington and although my studies may not be my true calling, I find a lot of crossover between snow mechanics and mechanics of materials which is reassuring. I believe my degree will be useful in the pursuit of outdoor education and snow science. I feel most alive when I’m learning in the mountains and I want to spread the joy to others.

Skiing is my passion, I grew up racing at Mt Baker and I have since transitioned to the backcountry. There’s nothing like the feeling of sliding downhill and I think there’s a lot of opportunity in this sport to diversify the community and share this experience with so many others. I have been venturing into the backcountry for 7 years and want to explore career options in the avalanche industry. The prospects of professional ski patrol, avalanche education, forecasting, and guiding all excite me and I can’t wait to dive into this field.

Paige Baugher (she/her/hers)

I have been recreating in the winter backcountry ever since I moved to Oregon 12 years ago. My favorite outdoor activity is definitely ski mountaineering, but I love just about anything that involves snow and ice. Or rocks. Or rocks and ice. I am a Professor of Biology at Pacific University, but I also teach an Introduction to Mountaineering course as well as rock climbing courses for the Pacific University Outdoor Program.

Recently I joined Portland Mountain Rescue, and am currently only one of a handful of field-deployable women within the unit. I am passionate about mentoring young women in the outdoors and love sharing my knowledge and experience with them, or anyone who will listen.

Katherine Lanfri (she/her/hers)

Growing up near Mt. Hood, the mountains have always been an inseparable part of my identity. I am passionate about skiing and see no better way to expand on this passion than by working in the snow and avalanche industry. My initial interactions with the backcountry began with alpine rock climbing and grew into the snow realm after moving to Central Oregon in Winter 2017/18, where I immediately became hooked on backcountry skiing. I currently work as a patroller at Hoodoo Ski Area and enjoy helping others participate in my favorite sport as safely as possible.

My interests within the industry include avalanche forecasting, education and ski guiding. Coming from an engineering background, I am intrigued by avalanches and the mechanics of snowpack behavior. I am grateful for the opportunity provided by NWAC’s mentorship program to explore these fields in depth. I’m excited to continue developing skills and obtaining education in backcountry travel and am currently working toward my AIARE Pro 1, and ultimately my AMGA Rock/Ski Guide. When not on skis, I enjoy climbing/guiding at Smith Rock, surfing, trail running, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

2019-2020 Mentees

Haylee Darby (she/her/hers)

Growing up, Haylee Darby was unfamiliar with most mountain sports and the outdoors did not have a central place in her life. It wasn’t until she was nearing the end of high school that she was introduced to the mountains and began spending most of her free time in the backcountry. Whether it was skiing, alpine climbing, mountaineering or more, time spent in the mountains has consumed her life and passions ever since. One passion that grew from this is her love of snow and avalanche education due, in part, to opportunities like NWAC’s Female Mentorship Program. After graduating from the University of Washington, in March 2021, Haylee hopes to pursue seasonal work in the form of avalanche education with the eventual goal of avalanche forecasting. She is excited to be working with NWAC as an Avalanche Awareness instructor this season and can’t wait for future opportunities to work with NWAC, enhance her avalanche education, and help others do the same!

One year out of the mentorship program, what are you up to?

I am currently living in Bozeman, MT and finishing up my online (due to covid) Bachelors of Science from the University of Washington. I am graduating in March 2021 and will continue my seasonal trail work experience with the US Forest Service through the summer. I am loving my new community in Bozeman, ice climbing regularly, and enjoying learning and gaining respect for the touchy Montana snowpack. The mentorship experience impacted my life in many ways, the clearest being that it showed me a career path that I was interested in. It also provided me connections and resources that I am incredibly thankful for. It gave me confidence that this is the right direction for me and inspiration in the form of all the other ladies I worked with. Mentorship is a style of learning that works well for me and has done so in other experiences in the past. I am really grateful for NWAC and this program!

Katie Strahl (she/her/hers)

Katie first learned to ski, while working at her hometown ski resort, White Pass. It was an instant love and one that has become a lifelong passion. She is the founder of Basecamp Cascadia, an organization to enable more folks to cultivate their own wilderness connection through adventure and self-discovery. Katie has spent close to a decade working directly and indirectly for our public lands. She carries a MPA in Environmental Policy from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy, is a Wilderness Management Scholar through University of Montana, and is currently completing the Avalanche Educator Track through the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. When she is not building (physically or figuratively) Basecamp Cascadia near Stevens Pass, you will likely find her exploring her own backyard in some human-powered way accompanied with her adventure crew – Jon + Pondo!

One year out of the mentorship program, what are you up to?

Despite an injury that has taken me out of the backcountry this winter, I have had the opportunity to further my involvement with the NWAC community through teaching virtual NWAC Avalanche Awareness Courses, as well as partner with Winter Wildlands Alliance to connect more folks to the world of snow through snow science and winter recreation. My experience with the mentorship program has been extremely supportive and motivating, especially during a pandemic where it can feel challenging to pursue professional goals and build community. From the mentors to the mentees, I have found that everyone is here to help you succeed. I am grateful for the women I have had the opportunity to get to know during this program and only look forward to continue to grow in this community and lift more women up!

Amber Smith (she/her/hers)

As a young girl, Amber explored the ancient settlements of N. and S. America with her father, an archeologist and outdoorsman, and as a teenager she made home in Turkey and Tajikistan. In 2011, her love for adventure took her to another venue: the mountains! Since then, Amber has passionately pursued climbing and skiing all over the Western United States. In college, Amber focused on outdoor leadership and wrote her Honor’s College Thesis on ‘Feminist Outdoor Leadership,’ a facilitation guide for more inclusive and empowering outdoor experiences. In 2016, after graduating, Amber began apprentice guiding for a private mountaineering company and in 2018 she began full-time mountain guiding. She is proud to have now completed three full-time seasons in the N. Cascades. During this time, Amber also applied the skills she learned in the private guiding sector as an instructor for the YMCA Boys and Girl’s Outdoor Leadership Development Program and Girls on Ice Alaska. It is important to Amber that she participate in programs like Girls on Ice because she wants outdoor adventure to be accessible to any person who feels inspired to explore. Amber’s current career goal is to become a Course Leader for AIARE and participate in developing curriculum for avalanche education that is inclusive and effective.

One year out of the mentorship program, what are you up to?

In February 2021 I will complete my AIARE Instructor Training Course and begin teaching introductory avalanche education. I am currently employed as a ski patroller at Powder Mountain in Northern Utah, where I am surrounded by snow geeks everyday. By far the greatest benefit of the mentee program for me was conversations with Dallas Glass on my goals and how to reach them. He connected me with an avalanche professional in Utah but unfortunately they haven’t been available.

Renee Shapiro (she/her/hers)

Growing up in Sun Valley, Idaho, I had the unparalleled blessing of the Sawtooth, Pioneer, White Cloud, Boulder and Smokey mountain ranges outside her backdoor; a backcountry skier’s dream. My formative years were spent competing in moguls for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, but my love for backcountry experiences flourished while studying International Affairs, Spanish and Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder. During this time, I dipped her toe into the world of guiding and outdoor recreation with a position as a Senior Trip Leader and Climbing Gym Instructor for the CU Outdoor Program. This professional experience, coupled with leading extracurricular groups like the CU Backcountry Ski Club and SheJumps at CU, cemented my love for teaching outdoor skills, especially related to snow. After moving to the Pacific Northwest, she began volunteering closely with groups like SheJumps and the Northwest Avalanche Center, leading to her current position as the Outreach Coordinator at the Northwest Avalanche Center.

One year out of the mentorship program, what are you up to?

Through this mentorship program, I built connections with the wonderful folks at NWAC, and have since gotten a job as the Outreach Coordinator. I am so appreciative the steps this program created for me to enter into the professional snow space, and now have the awesome privilege of continued work with SheJumps, NWAC and incoming mentees to the program! I completed my Professional Level 1 AIARE training in December of 2020 and look forward to taking an Instructor Training Course next season to begin teaching avalanche education

SaRah Busse (she/her/hers)

I have been involved in outdoor activities from an early age. After moving to Vancouver nearly 10 years ago, my love of the outdoors intensified. When I’m not working, I load my gear into my minivan and head out for another adventure!  Whether for an evening, a day or a week or more, you will find me skiing, mountain biking, white water kayaking, canyoneering, rock climbing, backpacking or mountaineering. I am thankful for the opportunity with NWAC to be mentored by other women in the avalanche industry. I find learning new techniques and developing my skills to be fun and rewarding. This mentorship has helped reinforce my passion for learning and teaching about the outdoors. Whether in a classroom or in the field, I not only love learning, but also the friendships made with others that share my passion. I am excited to share my knowledge and experience with others. I have taught canyoneering and I hope to begin teaching avalanche awareness classes as well. Ski Patrol and guiding are other interests I would like to pursue.

One year out of the mentorship program, what are you up to?

Since the mentorship I am teaching Avalanche Awareness Courses with NWAC, and am hoping to an Avalanche Instructor in the next couple years. The mentorship has made me realize there are job opportunities in the Avalanche Industry that I am looking forward to pursuing. They have also made me realize how much I love learning and teaching women