Meet the Pros: A Ski Athlete, Mountain Host, Wilderness Therapy Field Director, and a Journalist

In the Pro Spotlight series, we highlight our Outdoor Prolink pros, the amazing individuals working in the outdoor industry every day. Pros guide, educate, train, mentor, and lead a wider audience in outdoor recreation. Their experience provides credible assessment of gear quality – they are, after all, the elite audience for whom it is designed.

Meet Tyler, a ski athlete working for WNDR Alpine

What is your favorite piece of gear?

I think collapsible water bottles are the bee’s knees and I dread losing valuable space in my pack with a hard bottle. BUT my favorite piece of gear is hard to whittle down to one single member. I am a methodical person, and I am convinced that all gear functions as a system. For example, a day in the backcountry skiing has the risk of becoming chaotic without a properly executed system of gear that works in sync with its user. For example, helmets and goggles/sunnies protect us from injury and cold. Proper clothing is the same. Backpacks carry our rescue and ski equipment. Then there’s the additional equipment such as maps/gps, food and water, sunscreen, extra layers, skis, boots, and poles. All of this gear operates simultaneously to get us up and down the mountain. Subtract one thing from the list and you might have a bad time.

What is the most unforgettable trip or adventure you’ve been on?

I am not sure I can pin one single trip to a most unforgettable experience, but one that stands out to me is my first hut trip. I was fortunate enough to be selected in a lottery for the Bill Putnam Hut (Fairy Lake) located in the Adamant Range of B.C. I think we were there for about six days. Ski travel in the Canadian Rockies is a remarkable experience with many high alpine routes and an incredible hut system. We were lucky in that there was good snow and good people with new and familiar faces.

What is the great lesson that nature has taught you?

Nature can throw some curve balls at the drop of a hat, but it also communicates very well when observed with attention. What I have learned through years of hanging out outside is that becoming laser-focused on an end goal or objective will often get you into trouble because you can miss signs that nature puts right in front of you. Taking time to stop, look, listen, feel, and think will give you the best opportunity to keep traveling safely in the mountains.

Meet Lexie, a Mountain Host at Mammoth Mountain and Director of the California Outdoor Recreation Partnership

What got you started in the outdoor industry?

I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors whether it be skiing or walking in nature. Since entering the workforce, I’ve had jobs ranging from working at a hair salon to being a staffer for a Member of Congress but I realized in my late 20’s that it was important for our passions to align with our work to stay motivated and interested so I started to pivot to working in the outdoor industry. My first role was… big surprise! Being a Ski Instructor.

What is the most unforgettable trip you’ve been on?

I’m very lucky. I’ve had so many throughout the years and it’s hard to choose from so I’m going to go with something memorable in recent years! Last winter, I was working for Coalition Snow, which is a women’s owned and run ski and snowboard company out of Reno, Nevada. Our CEO, Jen Gurecki, gave me and my colleague, Evin Harris, an amazing opportunity. We got to live in the Coalition Snow van, which was plush with a Diesel heater and very comfortable bed, and go to 10 different ski resorts across 7 states over a 2 week period to run the Coalition Snow Demo Tour. I got to meet amazing women at resorts like Brighton and ski incredible powder at resorts I had never been to like Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole. We started off at Boot Tan Fest at Bluebird Backcountry, which is an annual event where 200 women gather and take a naked ski lap together at Colorado’s first ever backcountry ski resort. The trip started on a high and ended up being so fun, especially getting to know Evin better and being super compatible travel partners. 10/10 one of the best work trips I’ve ever had.

What’s the one thing you want future outdoor enthusiasts to know?

Kindness. I strongly believe that the outdoors is welcome for all to explore and we need to be more welcoming to others regardless of skin color, disability, age, sexual orientation, you name it. We also need to show kindness to our home planet. Nature and the outdoors will not exist as we know it and we as a human race will no longer exist if we don’t take care of it. If you are enthusiastic about the outdoors and our future, get involved with climate change resilience policy. It’s more important than the send or the summit.

Meet Dominic, a field director for Second Nature Wilderness Therapy

What is the greatest lesson that nature has taught you?

Humility. It’s a cliche, but the mountains don’t care who you are or what experience you have. If you don’t recreate while practicing humility, the mountains will usually humble you quickly. I believe this lesson is mirrored in life outside of outdoor pursuits. If we all practiced a little more humility and took time to listen the world would be a better place. 

What is your favorite piece of gear?

In the field, my Mountain Hardwear Phantom -40 sleeping bag, for those cold nights working wilderness therapy. Out of the field, my main touring skis/binding set up is my favorite. The skis are Fischer Hannibal 106c paired with the Salomon MTN pure tech binding, lightweight and sturdy.⁠

What’s the most unforgettable adventure you’ve been on?

One of my first big trips, hiking the Wind River high route with my brother and two friends. We did 75 miles of off-trail hiking/scrambling. It was my first big adventure and, at the time, a fair amount out of anyone in our group’s comfortable ability level. It taught us many valuable lessons and was a powerful experience. 

Meet Aaron, a journalist working in outdoor media

What got you started in the outdoor industry?

My second job out of college as a Journalism graduate from CSU was with Paddler Magazine in Steamboat Springs. As you can probably guess, this was a unique opportunity, a dream job, in a dream town. Once I realized I could utilize my degree, my passion for outdoor sports, and my love of magazines, writing and photography into an actual career, I never looked back. 

What is your favorite piece of gear?

This is a great question but also almost impossible to answer. As a multi-sport athlete, an angler, cyclist, skier, climber, runner, dog lover, and more, I have many favorite pieces of gear! Some things that come to mind though are crucial cross-over pieces that have really benefited from technology over the years…LED headlamps that are easy to recharge, powerful and affordable; of course the BUFF revolutionized outdoor layering; the right pack for the right application is always a must; ultralight gear such as tents and sleeping pads that are way better than their predecessors; Merino wool blended socks and base layers are way high up there; carbon fiber bicycles with electronic shifting; and I would have to say tech-pin ski touring bindings.

What’s the one thing you want future outdoor enthusiasts to know?

I don’t think I can speak to all future outdoor users because I cannot possibly understand what barriers they are facing or what their life looks like, what mental or physical obstacles they might be facing in life or with access to trailheads or good gear. But I do know that more is better. The more you get out there, and experience and learn from nature, the more you will appreciate it and want to preserve it. For the health of my children, and theirs. Everything is so crowded now, plastic pollution is rampant, loss of biodiversity, a warming planet. I challenge young people to take their planet and their lives back from greedy corporate interests and corrupt systems so that they can live healthy lives in closer harmony with the rhythms of the universe. 

We hope you enjoyed getting to know these pros as much as we did! If you’re a pro and want to be featured on our blog, shoot an email to [email protected]!

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
Marketing Specialist (he/him) :: Outdoor Prolink

Andrew Brookens is a native Michigander who now lives and works in Denver, Colorado for Outdoor Prolink on the marketing team. When he's not at work, he's obsessively exploring the west for climbing of all styles. He's equally psyched to get after some skiing, backpacking, and trail running as well! He believes that strong coffee and long days out in the mountains with friends are the key to a happy life. Follow him on instagram @brookensandrew.

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