This year, Valentine’s Day was not filled with chocolates, cards, candlelit dinners, or disappointment for the ladies of Mountain Mentors. Instead, we spent it huddled together in an expedition rated dome tent while the temperature gradually fell to -20 degrees Celsius at basecamp, nestled just below the mountains we would ski in the following days.

After the success of our inaugural SkillShare in the summer of 2017, we have decided to instate the SkillShare as a seasonal tradition moving forward. It is one of many opportunities where our entire mentorship cohort can come together and utilize the skills we've been developing all season.

This year, our SkillShare was made possible by the generosity of local guiding company Chilko Basecamps. As part of their Yellow Cedar Initiatives to promote community, culture, and environment, they provided us with basecamp tents, and an ultra-lux poo throne complete with a pop-up privacy tent (this is a big deal to anyone who has had the experience of trying to do their morning business in two feet of fresh snow after a frozen night’s sleep).

Bright and early on February 14th, 12 of our program participants packed out the tents, ski gear, food, extra warm clothes, and a few essential Valentine’s Day decorations to set up camp in the Duffey to ski out of for the next five days. On the third day, a second shift of 12 came into camp for their SkillShare experience and lucked out with a fresh dusting of twenty centimeters.

Our first winter SkillShare was a rewarding and challenging experience. For many of our participants, the SkillShare was filled with “firsts”: first time winter camping, first time on a multi-day trip, and first day touring in the Duffey. Watching these women persevere and thrive in (sometimes) adverse weather and snow conditions was incredibly inspiring. We had a blast, and owe a huge thank-you to Sam McKoy, Chilko Basecamps, and all of our attendees who helped make the week a success. Winter camping isn’t so cold after all, when you’ve got your girls to keep you warm!

Photos by: Sara Niblock, Abby Cooper