Fold mountains

Keeping Our Mountains Safe: Helly Hansen takes us into the life of a ski patroller

What does it take to be a ski tracker? And what is the job really like? With this movie, you can spend a day in the life of a tracker to get those answers.

Hannah Baybutt works as a ski patroller and first responder in Sun Valley, Idaho. She makes sure that the mountains are a safe place for everyone. “Her job can be both physically and mentally exhausting, but being part of a team of experts on the mountain helps Baybutt trust her abilities and stay focused when she needs it most. ” Helly hansen wrote.

In this short film, Hannah shares the responsibility she feels wearing the ski patroller cross as well as the obstacles she has overcome in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

You will see how the work works and meet the strong patrollers who inspired and empowered her. This tracker tells you everything: the ups and downs, responsibilities on and off the snow, and more.

Keeping our mountains and the people in them safe is a tall order, but Baybutt delivers. It all comes down to strength, confidence and teamwork.

Duration: 3 minutes

Helly Hansen Q&A with Ski Patroller Hannah Baybutt

(Photo / Cam McLeod)

Helly Hansen: What were your early days as a patroller like, and how and when did you find your rhythm?

Baybutt: The first few weeks of patrol, they call it your 45 day exam, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. There is so much information, and I even felt like I was a bit ahead of the curve growing up in the area and knowing the mountain.

There were five of us in my beginner class, but only one other person was brand new like me. So for the first and second year, it was cool to find our rhythm together. To have your boyfriend at work to go on an adventure, I think this was the time to find some progress, like, “Oh yeah I can do this!” Finding your niche, finding your people up there and finding those little moments of joy in great chaos is cool.

Who paved the way for you to find your way in a career field that is generally male dominated?

I think in the ski patroller industry there are a lot of women who have paved the way that I should thank. Especially female athletes – great mountaineers and professional skiers – as well as women in managerial positions such as guides. I also look at my mother. She paved the way for me. And also a woman named Pam Street, who taught me how to telemark when I was a kid. She’s a badass!

Do you have mentors? People who inspire you to grow and continue your career?

The women I work with Sun Valley Ski Patrol – Kjirsten Brevik, Sarah Linville, Emily White and Angie Tuma – and all the amazingly strong women around me. Kjirsten controls the medical and sets up training cells and pushes us. And Sarah has been a huge mentor in supporting our Patrol Dog Jake and trying to meet the challenge of working him and me together.

I think all of these women are really strong – strong in their beliefs, strong mentally, strong physically. And they kind of bring you into the fold. They want you to excel. I think in a role where it’s easy to have self-doubt, these women help push you. Look at them for stability and for that strength.

Idaho ski patroller Hannah Baybutt crossing a snow capped mountain with her skis on her shoulder
(Photo / Cam McLeod)

Have you ever doubted yourself or your abilities as a trail tracker?

Yeah, I question my abilities all the time. I ask myself, “Am I strong enough?” Am I good enough? Do I represent myself well? And I think a lot of times having those doubts and being able to counter them with “Yeah you are, you can do it” makes me better at what I do. I think when you go on a wreck on the mountain you should have a little fear because it gives you an advantage.

However, that doubt can be overcome and be a negative thing – and that’s when I reach out to the people I love and trust to help me get back to a central point of. balance between doubt and confidence.

How do you find this balance in yourself?

I think it comes and goes. Life comes in these swells, if you want to think of it as a swell or a mountain, you’re going to have these ups and downs. And I think knowing and having the ability to adapt is important.

What does it take to become a trusted member of the team?

Confidence is earned. Confidence doesn’t just come on the first day of being a patroller. People start to trust you when they see you doing certain things.

My freshman, someone gave me the really good advice that as a first year patroller you want to prove to people that you know how to shovel. Don’t shovel people, but help dog handlers shovel dog holes, shovel picnic benches. I think that’s a little bit of trust. They trust you for it, or they see the way you run a slide… it’s like ticking boxes of trust.


Editor’s Note: This Q&A was conducted by Helly Hansen with permission to share.


Hannah Baybutt Ski Patrol
(Photo / Cam McLeod)
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