Snowsport Scotland engages with a number ambassadors in the backcountry space. These ambassadors are people active in the backcountry in Scotland who have experience, insight or knowledge that we wish to share. It is our aspiration that sharing this content can highlight how much the Scottish landscape can offer.
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 however I’ve been making the most of the agricultural skiing on offer in the Yorkshire Dales and crossing my fingers that restrictions will ease to allow for some Scottish spring adventures!
Blair Aitken is an internationally qualified ski instructor and race coach, Mountain Leader, Mountain Bike Leader and European Mountain Security qualified for ski touring. He has spent more than a decade in the Alpes, running ski instructor courses and assessments for the British Association of Snowsports Instructors, as well as growing the successful New Generation Ski & Snowboard School in Val d’Isére. He continues to instruct and lead off piste skiing in Chamonix, Val d’Isére and Avoriaz, but now spends most of his time in Scotland.
Blair is an experienced ski-mountaineer and former alpine national ski champion who has been backcountry skiing in Scotland since the mid-nineties. He is actively involved in promoting ski-touring amongst British skiers through his British Backcountry Facebook group He is also a competent mountain biker and leads groups in the Lothians, the Tweed valley and the Highlands.
Blair teaches part time for East Lothian Outdoor Learning; delivers climbing, paddling and cycling activities for Venturing Out, a Community Interest Company; and supervises and assesses Duke of Edinburgh for Aspen Outdoors. He spends his free time exploring Scotland by ski, bike, kayak, scrambling and rockclimbing. He is keen to share his passion for Scotland’s wild places with others, and hopes to help people develop the skills needed to better enjoy their time in the mountains. Blair also advises Mountaineering Scotland as part of their Ski Touring Advisory Group, and organises events and workshops such as the Winter Opener
Snowsport Scotland Development coach Euan Baxter spends his spare time touring, hiking and biking round his home in Aviemore. Having previously worked with the GB Park & Pipe Team Euan has worked at all levels in the pathway, from first time learners, club trainees right the way through to Olympic medalists. The terrain park is where he works as a coach but making turns whether it be on ski or snowboard, on piste, off jumps, on rails or in the backcountry has no distinction to him, it is all fun to be had.
Hannah Bailey is a passionate award-winning photographer, journalist and communications specialist who has been immersed in the underground scenes of action sports, adventure and the outdoors for over 10 years. Born in Edinburgh, Hannah has travelled the world to document women in action sports and her work has been recognised with awards from the Women’s Sport Trust and Campaign Magazine, and her photos featured in media such as Vice, The Scotsman, i_D, Dazed, Asian Geographic, Women’s Fitness. Instead of focusing on the sports, it is the free-spirited players and heroic characters that define the worlds of action sports and the outdoors which Hannah feels most passionate about, particularly those that are girls or women. Her photos and projects aim to show the real faces and stories of those involved in the culture, which she pushes to take to a wider audience to inspire others to join in and make the scene more accessible to all. She is currently based in Aviemore and works on an array of projects, including for Patagonia and Protect Our Winters UK.
I started in 1989 on a dry-slope in North Wales. Went on to tour around the UK doing dry-slope comps for about 2 years, were a gained a shop sponsor. Did my 1st season in Chamonix France in 1992/93 and never looked back. For the next 17 years I lived and based myself in Chamonix living the dream. In 1997 I became British overall snowboard champion in Les Arc’s France. This opened the doors to more sponsorship allowing me to travel around the world freeride snowboarding. In 1999 I was invited to Alaska with a UK based magazine Snowboard UK. We were the 1st Brits to head over with a camera crew to document the big mountains of AK. The following year we went back for more…..
I worked as the photo editor for Snowboard UK for 3 years in between the snow seasons.
Was sponsored by Switch step-in bindings and helped develop the system within the Vans boots for 6 years.
Judged the world jnr championships, for 3 years. TTR for 2 years and the British Champs for 3 years.
Coached at the McNab Kommunity winter/ summer camps for 4 years
Coached at Folgafona Summer camp in Norway for a month
Coached the New Zealand jur halfpipe team in New Zealand for 2 weeks
Was the ringleader for setting up the VANS Dawn of the Shred comps up the Cairngorms for 5 years and the 2 Scottish rounds of European Vans High Standard events
For the last 7 years I’ve run the UpBattleSplitboarding demo weekender up the Cairngorms. Rising money for the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team.
Currently living in Aviemore with my wife and 3 kids plus wee Yogi the dawg….
Sliding down hill has always been fun and aged eighteen we hopped on a bus to Aviemore and threw ourselves down Cairngorm Mountain on snowboards till everything hurt, I was hooked.
Snowboarding gave me my first reason to travel and work overseas. I’ve been lucky enough to live and work in New Zealand, Canada, Italy and France but Scotland always pulled me back. In 2006 during my first midlife crisis I became a BASI snowboard instructor to help share my love of sliding sideways.
Riding the ski hill was pure fun and when I left the resort behind I found adventure: a journey with an unknown outcome.
Backcountry, touring, off piste whatever you call it for me its the whole package. Out there you depend on each other to find the best snow, keep each other safe, getting yourself up hill and sharing the ride down. You are the ski patrol, the uplift and the cafe all rolled into one.
I eventually found home in the Aviemore area and work year round as an Outdoor Instructor. I have somehow managed to end up as a Backcountry Snowboard guide for G2 Outdoor.
Backcountry Touring through Scotland’s wild nature can be challenging, frustrating and so worth it. There is so much freedom to explore you as long as you are guided by the conditions, your kit and your crew.
I grew up living at Dellmhor in Rothiemurchus and went to Aviemore Primary School and then to Kingussie High School. I was lucky enough to have a lot of great winters on Cairngorm growing up and also lucky to come from a family who were very passionate about skiing. I learnt to ski at a young age and spent a lot of time skiing with my extended family. My father was a BASI trainer and also drove the Snow Cats and Worked on the Ski Patrol when I was a kid and my mother was also a ski instructor. I had a great time skiing with Cairngorm Ski Club and along with my cousin Alain Baxter, went from Cairngorm Ski Club to the Scottish Alpine Ski Team and then on to the British Alpine Ski Team. I was British Women’s Giant Slalom Champ in 1994 before changing skis for a snowboard and taking up snowboarding. I raced snowboards on the ISF and FIS World Cup tours before deciding I had had enough of gates and focusing on half pipe events. I was really luck to have a lot of support from the local snowboard shop Boardwise at the time I swapped from skiing to snowboarding as well as a lot of support from the local snowboard scene.I went on to be the first ever GB Snowboard competitor to compete at the Winter Olympics in 2002 and also to win a FIS World Cup when I won a halfpipe World Cup in 2003 and the first snowboarder from the UK to compete in the USA Winter X Games halfpipe event. I had 6 FIS World Cup Halfpipe podium results in my career and competed in 3 Olympics before moving to coaching. I coached the European Roxy Snow team for 4 years and then moved to the newly formed GB Park and Pipe Team in 2012 where I became the Programme Manager for the ski and snowboard athletes competing in halfpipe, slopestyle and big air events at Word Cup and Olympic level. Between 2012 and 2018 the GB Park and Pipe team won many World Cup and X Games medals and also 3 Olympic bronze medals by Jenny Jones, Izzy Atkin and Billy Morgan. I an a BASI L4 ISTD qualified instructor as well as a ski and snowboard coach and I am also a qualified yoga teacher. I am currently winding down on the competition scene side but still work part time for GB Snowsports as a programme manager and am moving more towards backcountry interests. I look forward to launching some new projects in the backcountry space this season
”I feel backcountry skiing is total freedom, a natural progression from the first adventures as a child questing around The Lecht and Glenshee. Back then on a wild and windy days the thought of heading over to Glas Maol was filled with excitement and a wee bit of trepidation. Similarly this is now felt on the approach to the Ben or a far flung Coire in the north west. My first steps beyond the ski centres and the resorts was out in Revelstoke, BC whilst on my first winter season. The short hikes and skins would take you to terrain only seen previously in ski movies. To have such freedom to get to these spots was at first slightly nerve-racking. Knowing that you make all the decisions yourself about where you go and how you approach the mountain opened up a whole new world.
Returning to Scotland to spend 4 years at uni I didn’t think I would find such good skiing. With marginal snow and wild weather I thought surely nothing could match the steep and deep terrain of BC. Luckily Scotland is packed full of beautiful lines brimming with character waiting to be discovered. The lack of powder was more than replaced by the adventure and community. Heading up to Glencoe and Nevis Range I was soon finding goods from the lift and taking short hikes into even more epic terrain. The realisation that Scotland is home to such adventures has lead to hours pouring over maps searching for that next coire to explore. The days can be hard, often wild weather and difficult snow (mud, ice and heather) but when the timing, friends, and conditions click I wouldn’t want to be skiing anywhere else.”