Faces of the Backcountry

Words by: Shelma Jun

Photos by: Vanessa Fukuyama

The third annual Arc’teryx Backcountry Academy in Jackson Hole, WY just wrapped. A weekend full of clinics, live music, photo competitions and more. One of the best parts of the academy is that it brings together so many different people who attend for their own reasons.

In hopes of capturing these unique perspectives, we caught up with six attendees — from Arc’teryx athletes to outdoor enthusiasts — to learn more about what gets them out into the backcountry. While each person’s story, skill level, and motivation may have varied, they all agreed that the backcountry brings them joy.

Brittany Baum first came to the Backcountry Academy in 2019 as a snowboarder. At the beginning of a sabbatical of mountain adventures, Brittany was looking to expand her skillset to include splitboarding. After a short stint in Chamonix last spring spurred her to try skiing, she loved it enough to shift gears. She’s come back to the Academy again, this time choosing Intro to Ski Touring and Piste to Powder clinics on her new skis.

Brittany Baum

Skier | 33 years old | Currently traveling.

Favorite piece of gear for the backountry: Sunglasses

Most exciting thing happening in skiing for you: “[As someone] learning a new sport at 33, as an adult, it’s very satisfying to get better. There is so much incremental improvement happening so it’s just awesome.”

Best part of the Academy: “First time backcountry touring on skis was a big deal. I’m glad that I did that here and now I’m ready do to more of it!”

Arc’teryx athlete Sam Kuch is having a season of new. After filming a segment for MSP’s Return to Send’er last year (a segment that ended up winning Best Male Performance at the Powder Awards, among others), Sam is just getting started. With clinics, photoshoots and prepping for this week’s Kings and Queens of Corbet’s competition, Sam has squeezed as many new experiences into his first Backcountry Academy as he can, and he isn’t taking any of it for granted.

Sam Kuch

Skier | 22 years old | Nelson, BC born and raised.

Favorite Piece of Gear for the Backcountry: “My Leatherman multi-tool knife, it gets the most use. That, and ski straps.”

Best part of backcountry skiing: “The freedom of it. Once you’re in the backcountry, there’s no one making the rules for you. You pave your own path and the way the day unfolds is all up to you.”

Best part of the Academy: “Learning from the other athletes and teachers that are more experienced than I am that can teach me all these other realms of skiing.”

Iris Lazzareschi is a splitboard guide for Exum Guides, one of the presenting sponsors of the Backcountry Academy. Though she’s been snowboarding for 22 years, Iris sees her relationship with snowboarding continuing to grow and challenge her. The satisfaction and joy that she has found from learning how to ride the whole mountain is something that she strives to help others experience through her guiding and seemingly endless stoke.

Iris Lazzareschi

Splitboarder | 33 years old | Jackson, WY

Favorite backcountry snack: “The deer jerky that I got from the deer that I hunted last fall.”

Best part of backcountry snowboarding: “Being able to make my own trail and that we can all share the love for a toe side pow turn.”

Best part of the Academy: “Sharing the stoke with my clients. When people have a really good day, one of the best days of their snowboarding life, and you helped them accomplish that… that is why I do my job. That is what’s so cool about this Academy.”

Photographer Guy Fattal didn’t grow up close to the mountains in Israel, but he was immediately drawn to skiing from the occasional week-long ski trips his family would take during his teenage years. Guy’s ability to channel his love of skiing as a creative output for his photography has brought him to where he is today. Guy’s successful execution of a captivating story through the images in his slideshow made him this year’s Jackson Hole Exposed Photo Showdown Winner.

Guy Fattal

Skier | 28 years old | Whistler, BC

Favorite piece of gear for the backountry: “When I’m not too concerned about the weight I’m carrying, I love taking my film camera.”

Best part of backcountry skiing: “Just being out there and working for your turns, enjoying nature in the pure way and looking at things in a slower way.”

Best part of the Academy: “The evening of the photo contest – it was all building towards that. There were six teams and it was cool to see what everyone came up with. I thought people did a great job. There was some great photography and storytelling. It was really awesome to see [the slideshow] in front of a crowd and see people react to it.”

A long-time skier, Greg Roussel wasn’t psyched when his youngest son told him that he wanted to try snowboarding, but when his other son was also interested, Greg decided they could all learn something new together. After five years of snowboarding, Greg has recently taken up splitboarding, since he was naturally gravitating towards his board over skis on powder days.

Greg Roussel

Snowboarder | 47 years old | Los Altos, CA

Favorite piece of gear for the backountry: “Mitts”

Best part of backcountry splitboarding: “You see all the pictures on a busy day, where lift lines are insane. You really have to go farther to understand what’s pure about getting into the forest, getting into a fantastic line every time. It’s totally worth it.”

A long  time Revelstoke local, Arc’teryx athlete Izzy Lynch has been skiing as long as she can remember. While this is her third time at the Backcountry Academy, this time, Izzy brought her mom and her son with her. At two years old, Knox is the same age as Izzy was when she started skiing. The matching giddiness and wide smiles with which Izzy, her mom and Knox all described their day out on the hill is an easy reminder that the joy that skiing provides spans across all ages.

Izzy Lynch

Skier | 34 years old | Revelstoke, BC

Favorite Piece of Gear for the Backcountry: My thermos.

Best part of backcountry skiing: “Being way out there and enjoying it with my friends and people I love.”

Most exciting thing happening in skiing for you: “Teaching my two year how to ski and seeing how excited he is. He’s already asking for some skins.”