Bridging the Gap: A Conversation with Ascent Mentorship founder Emily Wright

When Emily Wright moved to Revelstoke, B.C. from Whistler, she faced a problem that a lot of women have run into over the years: finding other women to ski with in the backcountry. To solve this problem, Wright decided to start Ascent Mentorship in hopes of connecting women looking to get into the backcountry. —Betsy Manero

[Photo] Abby Cooper

Backcountry Magazine: Where did the inspiration to start Ascent Mentorship come from?

Emily Wright: There’s an existing mentorship program called Mountain Mentors. I moved from Whistler to Revelstoke, and [Ascent Mentors] was built as a self-serving sort of idea for me, because I wanted there to be a mentorship program in Revelstoke. I was interested in having a mentor and just being able to build my skills. I was having trouble finding someone to bring me out. I have my AST 1. I have all my backcountry gear, but I was just having that struggle connecting with someone who I felt comfortable with bringing me out, and also the other way around, bringing me into the backcountry because I was fairly new.

BCM: What has the process of building Ascent Mentorship been for you?

EW: Honestly, it’s been pretty smooth sailing for now. I really got the motivation and drive in February of this year, which is interesting timing. With Covid, I had a little bit of extra time on my hands and buckled down and did some research, got a really awesome board and was able to dedicate the time. I’m also a marketing professional, so I dedicated time to building a website and getting everything launched. Right now it’s been smooth sailing in terms of getting incorporated, but we’re still working on getting funding. We’ve been applying to grants through the local government in the area and reaching out to potential sponsors, but because of Covid, not many people have budgets for things like this anymore, so it’s a bit tough in that sense.

BCM: Do you have backcountry mentors who you’ve worked with, or have you had challenges finding mentors? Specifically, female mentors?

EW: When I lived in Whistler, I had a really good friend, Abby Cooper, who is a photographer. She really was most of my motivation for getting out there. She was always doing cool stuff, and she really makes the most comfortable environment for people who are learning. She’s really eager to pass on her knowledge, and she was a great mentor for me. So yes, I did have one. But since moving out of Whistler, I was really looking for a connection in the same sort of way in Revelstoke, so hopefully this program will help me out.

[Photo] Abby Cooper

BCM: What value do you see this program bringing to the female ski community of Revelstoke?

EW: Revelstoke has—and this might be an old stat—the largest female ACMG guide population in Canada. We just have some really awesome skiers, badass chicks who live here, so I think bridging the gap between the intimidating factor of all these women who are going out there, getting after it, is so awesome. And then there’s another level of girls who want to get there, or are driven to get out to the backcountry, but don’t have the means or don’t have the person to bring them along. So just bridging the gap between those two communities and building a bigger community of supportive, comfortable environments in Revelstoke.

BCM: What do you envision the future of this program being?

EW: Since we don’t have any staff due to funding, we’re limiting the amount of pairs down to 20 women, so I’d really love to be able to expand that. That would be the first step for next season, I think. But depending on how it goes and how many applications we get, I would love to be able to expand geographically as well.

BCM: Are there any opportunities for BIPOC women?

EW: Absolutely. We are not discriminating against anyone. We are saying that if you identify as a woman [you are welcome]. We are not discriminating in any sense, so, yup, the opportunity is equally there for anybody.

BCM: How can women apply, and what would their season look like?

EW: We are opening applications at the beginning of September, and applications will be through our website. For the season, the mentor and the mentee will be committing to one mentorship session a month for the duration of the season, from December to April. Depending on how things go with Covid, we’d love to have a kick-off event that brings everybody together, and a wrap up event, but we’ll see how that goes and if we’re allowed to do that.

To learn more about Ascent Mentorship or to apply to be a mentor or mentee, check out their website at

This article was updated on September 1, 2020, after a request from Mountain Mentors to more accurately represent their vision, commitments, and values.

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