Amy Marwick – What Backcountry Means to Me!
I am a ski instructor working between the French Alps and the Scottish mountains. I teach all ages and abilities, coach freeride and take ski touring groups out into the mountains. Freeride skiing was my route into ski touring, as it turned out, walking was the best way to reach the more remote lines. In 2015 I was part of a ski film project in Scotland called Late, that was my first real introduction to the Scottish backcountry. Since then I’ve worked with British Freeride, British Backcountry, Glenmore Lodge and Ellis Brigham, guiding ski touring and coaching courses in and around the Scottish resorts. This winter I’ll be based back out in the French Alps hoping that quarantine restrictions will ease so I can get back to Scotland in spring time for some mountain days!
If I’m being completely honest, when I think about riding in the backcountry my overriding feeling is anxiety. It makes me nervous. The more I learn about snow, and the more I understand about how accidents happen, when I’m sitting at home with a cuppa I can just about talk myself out of it, tell myself I don’t have the knowledge to deal with it. But there must be something awesome out there, because every winter I find myself striding back up the hill.
I guess once I’m on the move and I start rolling through a mantra about what’s going on around me… terrain, weather, snow, people… I start to relax. I know I can minimize my exposure to risk in lots of ways, through making good choices, communicating with my buddies and constantly evaluating what is going on. The more knowledge I can gather, the more informed the decisions are, but actually it’s not until I’m out there in the snow that I start to take confidence in what I know.
Ski touring has taken me to some amazing locations and I’ve had the funniest of times up on the mountain, but I have to remind myself daily not to let my mind get the better of me and trust in my knowledge. There is so much backcountry to explore, so many fun times to be had, and so many cups of tea to come back home to – they taste so much better after a day in a Cairngorm blizzard!