Ascent Mentorships is a Revelstoke-based non-profit society committed to breaking barriers for women who are interested in backcountry skiing and snowboarding, through mentorship programs.
Ascent founder and executive director Emily Wright, alongside Leslie Hogg, Breeana Hartley, and Robyn Goldsmith pair women in the community together.
Last season, Ascent Mentorships paired 48 women together, half mentors and half mentees, to set out into the backcountry, build confidence and gain the real life experience.
The mentors pay forward their experiences and become role models to less experienced skiers and snowboarders in order to grow the sport.
The society prefers women who have their Avalanche Skills Training 1 over less skilled skiers, but as the program grows they hope to accommodate women of more diverse skills.
“You can easily take an AST1 course, you can have all the gear, but if you don’t have someone to take you around and give you the real life experience it can be hard to get out there,” said Wright. “We hope that it helps builds confidence for both parties, the mentor and the mentee, and build a more supportive backcountry skiing community in Revelstoke.”
The mentees in the program will set three goals for themselves to work on throughout the season.
Ascent looks to offer women in sport a learning environment that is more suited to how they learn.
“As a woman, I know first hand, that it’s good for my mental health to be out exercising and exploring the mountains,” said Wright. “Women tend to prefer a different learning environment to men: supportive rather then competitive.”
The program will be accepting applications for both mentors and mentees throughout September for this coming winter. Applicants must be planning to live in Revelstoke for the entire winter season, willing to spend one day a month with a mentor and have the right gear to take on the backcountry.
Last year they received 90 applications for mentees and 24 for mentors.
“We have a lot more interest in people being mentees more than mentors,” said Wright. “It pains us to have to turn so many women down. Ideally we’re hoping to raise the number of mentors in the coming years.”