A Passion for Turns

Trigg Skoe

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By Kami Bakken 

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Unlike many Coloradans, I didn’t grow up shredding the mountain’s hardest runs by the time I was four. I grew up in Minnesota with a family that had no prior experience of snow sports besides sledding. My first skiing experience was on a reclaimed landfill that is now a six-run ski hill in the flatlands of Minnesota. But, like many Coloradans and Colorado transplants , I was always attracted to what the mountains could offer and all the ways I’d be challenged and humbled by Mother Nature herself.

For my first powder day and second time skiing ever, I headed up the Poudre Canyon with CSU’s Outdoor Program for instructor training. This was also my first time in the backcountry. As we drove further up, the snowpack got deeper, topped with the fresh eight inches from the big storm cycle the night before. The folks who accompanied me were incredible athletes, some seeming as if they came out of the womb styling the black diamond runs. There I was drowning in the deep powder wondering how I will ski without being able to see my skis. Struggling to keep my tips up and trying to pizza the whole way down through the trees, I found myself falling in love with the sport. Two weeks later, I got my AIARE 1, a three-day class on avalanche hazard management. The weekend after that, my real obsession began.

Throughout these past seasons, I’ve experienced Colorado’s backcountry in ways I couldn’t imagine and learned more lessons than I can count. The avy report became my daily newspaper and I was constantly in the pursuit of powder. My places of bliss and comfort were still in my backyard, right up the canyon and into the pass. Places like Montgomery Bowl, T-Trees, Hot Dog Bowl and Ptarmigan taught me everything I know. I learned the art of balancing rather than charging forward on powder; the struggle of cold climbing skins; the importance of caution and relentlessness of the mountains; and the beauty of breakfast burritos in the backcountry.

I’ve experienced so much beauty and enjoyment through backcountry skiing these past few seasons, but I’ve also experienced a more somber side encompassing changes within our snowpack and environment. I’ve become attuned to the decrease in our snowpack, the oddly warm winters and the less frequented precipitation. As skiers, we notice how this affects our seasons and as individuals we need to notice how this greatly affects humans and our world. Since my graduation from Warner College of Natural Resources, I’ve had the opportunity to work with an organization called Protect Our Winters (POW). This organization is mobilizing the outdoor sports community to take a stand against climate change by working with outdoor enthusiasts to become climate advocates. They’ve taught me quite a bit in the pow(d)er of our community. I’ve learned that our future is not hopeless. The larger our voice, the greater the impact. We, as the outdoor community, are in the direct lines of climate change. It affects our livelihoods and every day lives, but it also affects our passion and identity as outdoor enthusiasts. Get out and protect our passions!