Photo: Matt Irving (@irving_matthew)

Emilie Drinkwater

IFMGA Ski guide, Modest mountain explorer

Photo: Erica Engle (@ericamengle)

When I think about all the things that I’m lucky to have in life, skiing is just about the first that comes to mind.


I was born and raised in New Hampshire, birthplace of American skiing…and long, cold winters. As a kid I didn’t recognize this, but what I do recall is a love of skiing that allowed me to be endlessly entertained by 700 vertical feet and 100 annual inches of snow found on the illustrious Whaleback Mountain — steepest night skiing in America!


My introduction to skiing was through alpine racing but what I really loved was shuffling around on cross country skis in the New England woods. This represented ‘adventure’ and perhaps a foreshadowing of what might become of my life. At some point I remember begging my parents for telemark skis (and yes, a fanny pack and gaiters, too) so I could ski through the woods AND ride the Poma lift AND ski back home without ever getting in a car.


In high school, downhill skiing lost its novelty and I started Nordic racing. Strangely, I soon found that I liked the pain of skiing hard uphill as much as I liked the down. I took this new passion with me to college where I raced NCAA Division I Nordic skiing for four years. With no ambition to race beyond college, I combined my alpine and nordic backgrounds, discovering that backcountry skiing was the ‘adventure’ that I’d been seeking all along.


I’m as thankful today for skiing as I was in the 80’s when I unknowingly honed my skills on the steep, and icy trails of New England’s rugged mountains. Those skills have allowed me to ski around the world and now, also give me the opportunity to pass along that passion and knowledge in my daily life as a mountain guide.


Lebanon, NH


Salt Lake City, UT



  •  8 years of off-grid yurt living in the Northern Adirondacks. No water, electricity, cell service, or easy access…but the lifestyle this afforded was priceless.

  • Multiple trips to Afghanistan working with young Afghan women on leadership through athletics. In 2018 we summited the country’s highest peak (Mt Noshaq, 7500m) helping to guide the first Afghan woman to the summit, an unprecedented event in this part of the world.

  • 9th woman and 100th American to achieve IFMGA Mountain Guide Certification

  • 10+ years as an Outdoor Research Athlete Ambassador