Mountain Mentors is excited to award “Mentor of the Season” to backcountry skiing mentor Andrea O’Brien – a mentor with an exceptional dedication to the development of her mentee.

Andrea has been involved with Mountain Mentors since day one as both a backcountry splitboarding and skiing mentor. For her, the mode of transportation doesn’t matter as long as she is challenged and enjoying herself in the mountains.

She was introduced to the backcountry while living in Fernie, and has since “lived the dream” in mountain towns all over Canada in places like Big White, Whistler, and her current home in the Lower Mainland of BC. Andrea recalls her lack of accessible female role models in her early splitboarding days, and cites this as her inspiration to get involved in Mountain Mentors. She wanted to give another female athlete the guidance and support to develop her backcountry skills – and she certainly did that for her mentee, Jenna.

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Andrea and Jenna spent the 2017/18 winter season together shredding pow, practicing route finding, conducting snowpack assessments, and pursuing various objectives in the area. The most memorable part of the season for this mentor-mentee pair was a trip to the Brian Waddington Hut. Jenna regards it as, “easily the best weekend of my winter” with, “perfect conditions, positive group vibes, and beer to top it off.”

Andrea places a strong emphasis on the mutual respect she and Jenna had for one another right off the bat. She believes that, in order to have a successful mentorship, each party has to “want to be involved,” and value and honour the others time. This was exemplified in her dedication to meeting up with Jenna on a regular basis, involving her in the before, during, and after of the trip planning and, according to Jenna, “always making me feel like an integral part of the group. She intentionally [and sometimes aggressively] made space for my opinion in group discussions.” For Jenna, the end result was a huge boost in her confidence and a sense of belongingness in the outdoor community here.

Mountain Mentors owes its success to the time, energy, and effort of mentors like Andrea. We are very excited to recognize her as “Mentor of the Year” and would like to say one last time, thank you Andrea for all you do! We are lucky to have you.