Written by: Krystin Norman, SheJumps Seattle Ambassador
The original idea for Snowpack Pale Ale came from drinking a beer after skiing with my boyfriend and friends. We thought it would be super cool to make a collaboration beer with Fremont Brewing (where I work full-time in the Quality Lab as a Microbiologist) and SheJumps (where I have now been volunteering as an Ambassador for almost 4 years). I knew that if I was going to convince the owners of Fremont Brewing to collaborate on a beer to support SheJumps, I would need to have a real purpose for the beer other than just thinking that it was a cool idea. I am not exactly sure how the full vision of creating a scholarship program for women’s avalanche education came about, but I knew that it would be ideal to tie in the ski community in some way, as drinking a beer after skiing is like ritual.
As an individual who has been skiing since I was 3, I only learned about the existence of backcountry skiing when I moved to Washington state in 2012. It seemed like all of the ski friends I met in Seattle had a backcountry ski setup and continued to ski for months after the resorts closed and lifts stopped running in April. I knew this was something that I really wanted to learn more about, but I had no idea where to begin. Luckily, my friend Laura who had been my main climbing partner for the summer of 2013 took me out for a mellow day of touring on Christmas Eve of 2013.
I was already obsessed with skiing, but I fell in love again with skiing. It was a different kind of skiing, the kind that was not just type 1 fun that comes from riding lifts, but there was a little bit of suffering walking uphill to make the turns that much more satisfying. I decided that I needed to get educated before heading out into the backcountry; I saved enough money to sign up for an AIARE Level 1 in December of 2014, and had the goal of slowly buying the avalanche safety gear and an AT ski setup. It was pretty expensive and super hard at the time to save up that money for both an AIARE 1 and a full AT setup, probably about $2000 for everything, but I am lucky enough to have been able to afford it all. I knew it would all be a worthwhile investment, especially the avalanche education to keep myself and my friends as safe as possible while recreating.
Now back to fall of 2017. I decided that the Fremont/SheJumps collaboration beer could benefit women’s avalanche education. AIARE courses are expensive, skiing is expensive, and avalanche education is something that I believe is essential to recreating in the mountains in the winter.
I wanted to create a beer that would increase awareness for the need for avalanche education, especially in the Pacific Northwest where the backcountry is becoming more crowded each season and where many avalanche-related deaths occur every winter. I knew that I needed to tie in the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC), and I also wanted the support of someone in the ski industry.
I had just signed as an athlete ambassador on the K2 Women’s Ski Alliance, and mentioned the idea of a collaboration beer to their head of marketing, Valerie. She was very supportive of the idea. I spoke with my friend Charlotte, at NWAC, and she was also in support of making the beer and scholarship program a reality. After getting confirmation that my idea wasn’t terrible and that it was in fact really amazing from my best friend and SheJumps regional coordinator for WA, Julia, we contacted the executive director of SheJumps, Claire.
She was stoked and on board to make it happen. I set up a meeting with the owners of Fremont Brewing and pitched the whole idea to them; to create a Fremont Brewing beer with proceeds matched by K2 Sports, supporting SheJumps and NWAC to create an AIARE Level 1 scholarship program for adult women to apply to in the summer/fall of 2018 to take AIARE 1 courses in the winter 2018/2019 season. They said yes. We brewed Snowpack Pale Ale on February 16, 2018, and released the beer on International Women’s Day March 8, 2018 at Fremont Brewing in Seattle, WA.
Check out more details in the feature on KOMO News!