Keeping Our Mountains Safe: Helly Hansen Takes Us Into the Life of a Ski Patroller

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

Hannah Baybutt works as a ski patroller and first responder in Sun Valley, Idaho. She ensures the mountains are a safe place for all. “Her job can be both physically and mentally exhausting, but being a part of a team of experts on the mountain helps Baybutt to trust in her abilities and maintain focus 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 hurdles she’s navigated in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

You’ll see how the job works as well as meet the strong female patrollers that inspired and empowered her. This ski patroller tells all: the ups and downs, the responsibilities on and off the snow, and more.

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

Runtime: 3 minutes

Helly Hansen Q&A With Ski Patroller Hannah Baybutt

three ski patrollers in uniforms up close working on a patient on the mountain
(Photo/Cam McLeod)

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

Baybutt: The first weeks of patrol, they call it your 45-day review, is like drinking from a firehose. There is so much information, and I even felt like I had a little bit of a leg up having grown up in the area and being familiar with the mountain.

In my rookie class, there were five of us, but only one other person was brand new like me. So, through the first and second year, it was cool to find our stride together. To have your buddy at work to go on adventures with, I think those were the moments of finding strides, like, “Oh yeah, I can do this!” Finding your niche, finding your people up there, and finding those small moments of joy in big chaos, it’s cool.

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

I think in the ski patrol industry, there are a lot of women who have paved the way that I should give thanks to. Especially female athletes — big alpinists and professional skiers — as well as women in leadership roles like guides. I also look to my mom. She has led the way for me. And also a woman named Pam Street, who taught me to telemark when I was a kid. She is a badass!

Do you have any mentors? People that inspire you to push and carry on in your career?

The women I work with at Sun Valley Ski Patrol — Kjirsten Brevik, Sarah Linville, Emily White, and Angie Tuma — and all the incredibly strong women that I’m around. Kjirsten controls medical and puts up training cells and pushes us. And Sarah has been a huge mentor as far as supporting with our patrol dog Jake, and trying to tackle the challenge of he and I working 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 that in a role where it’s easy to have doubts about yourself, these women help push you. Look to them for stability and for that strength.

Idaho ski patroller Hannah Baybutt walking across a snowy mountain with her skis over her shoulder
(Photo/Cam McLeod)

Do you ever doubt yourself or your abilities as a ski patroller?

Yeah, I second-guess my abilities all the time. I ask myself: “Am I strong enough? Am I good enough? Am I representing myself well?” And I think that a lot of times having those doubts and being able to counter them with “Yeah you are, you can do this,” makes me better at what I do. I think when you’re going to a wreck on the mountain you should have that slight bit of fear because it gives you an edge.

However, that doubt can overcome and be a negative thing — and that’s when I reach out to the people that I love and trust to help bring me back to a center point of balancing the doubt with the confidence.

How do you find that balance within yourself?

I think it ebbs and flows. Life comes in these swells, if you want to think about it like a swell or like a mountain, you’re going to have these ups and downs. And I think knowing this and having the ability to adjust is important.

What does it take to become a trusted team member?

Trust is earned. Trust isn’t just given on the first day of being a patroller. People begin to trust you when they see you doing certain things.

My first year, 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. Not shovel people out, but help the dog handlers shovel dog holes, shovel out picnic benches. I think that is a small building block of trust. They trust you with that, or they see the way that you run a toboggan … it’s like checking off boxes of trust.

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

ski patrol Hannah Baybutt
(Photo/Cam McLeod)
kari traa group photo
'Girls Will Be Girls': Kari Traa Wants to Hear Your Stories of Inequity in Sport
Women in sports are breaking barriers and rules — and that's not a bad thing. Here's why. Read more…

Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

Topics: , , ,