Topics of Expertise: Skiing, camping, hiking, climbing, biking
Years in This Expertise: 7
Education & Certifications
Education:Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University in Wildlife Conservation Biology
Years of Writing: 2
Certifications:WEMT, WFR, AIARE 2
Makena was born and raised outside of Denver, Colorado where her love for the outdoors began at an early age. She grew up hiking and skiing in the stunning Rocky Mountains. Makena was always interested in the environment and how the natural world worked around her. She went to college where she got a degree in wildlife conservation biology from Colorado State University where she wrote and read countless research papers and worked on her plant and wildlife identification skills.
Makena started rock climbing, biking, and backcountry skiing early on in her college years which set her up to work for CSU’s Outdoor Program. There she began exploring more leadership roles in the outdoors, such as guiding hut trips and avalanche awareness courses. At that point, she was also introduced to wilderness medicine when she took a wilderness first responder (WFR) course, which opened a new door to a different career path than wildlife biology.
After college, Makena moved to Telluride, CO where she had been working each summer as a summer program instructor. The San Juans in Southwest Colorado are truly the most amazing mountains in Makena’s opinion and being able to live there full-time was the stepping stone to becoming the outdoor athlete she aspired to be. Here she was able to crack climb in nearby Indian Creek, ski the steep lines of the San Juans, and work on her endurance by trail running up the peaks towering over the tiny town of Telluride. She continued to keep up with her first responder certifications and felt called to continue her medical knowledge, which led her to getting her wilderness EMT license that would help her get her dream job ski patrolling.
Currently, Makena and her partner, along with their Australian Shepherd puppy Hazel, reside in Southern Utah. Here, Makena started off her ski patrol career and is now the Assistant Patrol Director for Brian Head Resort. She now writes proposals for new medical and technical gear for the patrol team, as well as helps write new policies and procedures for the resort, such as a sustainability plan and out-of-bounds policies. During the warmer months, Makena teaches wilderness medicine courses, in hopes of building confidence in others and giving them valuable skills to have while adventuring in the outdoors.
Became Assistant Patrol Director at Brian Head Resort during my second year patrolling, and first woman to be a director at Brian Head
Led several backcountry ski trips for college students and faculty
Developed a Student Outdoor Leadership Conference for other Outdoor Programs and students involved in outdoor recreation.
Became a Wilderness Medicine Instructor and teaches Wilderness First Responder courses
Took 12 teenagers on a 5-day backpacking trip on a section of the Colorado Trail during one of the rainiest weeks of the season, and 3 of the kids got altitude sickness
Developing the first Sustainability plan for Brian Head Resort
A Word from Makena Gross
Being surrounded by amazing access to the Rocky Mountains and seeing them out your window, it is almost difficult not to get involved in the outdoors in some capacity. Growing up in Colorado I was exposed to so many of my favorite activities from a young age. Being outdoors shaped who I am, my interests and passions, my values. I have learned my strengths and weaknesses from the outdoors, who I am as a leader, and the outdoors really has made me a better person. It just made sense for me to choose a life in the outdoor industry.
I began my many careers in the outdoors in hopes of inspiring others, giving them valuable skills that helped me along the way, and also so that I could keep spending time outdoors. I discovered the world of wilderness medicine while in college at Colorado State University, and ever since I have felt a pull towards the field. It is the perfect mix of outdoor recreation and medicine- two of my favorite things! Since taking my first course, I have gone on to get my EMT license, get experience ski patrolling, got promoted to Assistant Patrol Director, and I now teach wilderness medicine courses. I spend a lot of time reading reviews and testing gear/equipment for our patrol team, for my wild med courses, and for my own personal endeavors I have planned. In all these scenarios, it’s so crucial to have the right gear for the job. With that being the case, gear testing is my next opportunity to provide others with valuable insight into the outdoor industry while getting to spend time in the places I love most.
These days my life revolves around skiing, for work and for fun, which always feels so surreal. When it is not snowing, I enjoy running scenic trails, climbing cracks in the desert, mountain biking, and really doing anything that gets me outside moving my body. Keeping my body and mind healthy is one of my greatest priorities, so doing yoga and keeping a garden in the warm months are some of my many hobbies, and of course spending time with my partner and our four-legged furball of a dog.