The Mountain Light Project was created in memory of Kristin’s dad, who passed away three years ago. He was the epitome of a ‘mountain person.’ He loved being up there, and so this is to keep his legacy alive, in a nutshell. Also, snowboarding has made our lives what they are – it gave us the house we’re in, allowed us to travel the world, constantly be outdoors and meet amazing people. We felt the need to give back to a sport that has given us both so much.
Snowboarding is a very privileged sport; not everyone can do it because it’s so expensive. The town of Bellingham is only about an hour away from Mt Baker, but there are so many people who live there who’ve never been to the mountain. It’s very inaccessible for a lot of families, because you need the proper equipment, gas money and a lift ticket, not to mention coaching and camps that many kids participate in. It feels good to be able to encourage kids who have a love and passion for the snowboarding to pursue it further.
Applicants tell us what they’d like to do, and we put together a plan to make that happen. It might be to go to a snowboard camp, or to participate in their local snowboard club. They’ve already chosen what it is that they want to do, and we’re there to help them stay on that path. We want to stoke the fire that’s already there, rather than allow it to fizzle out because a family doesn’t have the means to keep going.
Snowboarding is a very privileged sport; not everyone can do it because it’s so expensive
We’re not looking for the next Shaun White or Travis Rice. We’ve tried to narrow it down to kids who show promise, but that doesn’t mean they have to be athletically gifted. We just want them to be able to take it to their own next level – whatever that may be – and also to raise awareness for The Mountain Light Project. Overall, we hope to encourage kids to be better world citizens – more mindful, well-rounded people who are aware of their surroundings.
We’ve also started offering free avalanche safety clinics. Last winter we had 21 young people from Bellingham participate in a two-day course at Mt Baker in partnership with The American Alpine Institute. We hoped that, as well as reinforcing the importance of safety in the backcountry, it would give the kids a positive experience in the mountains and encourage them to explore their backyard. That went really well – a lot of the parents contacted us to say they felt so much better about letting their kids go into the backcountry.
It’s hard to encourage conservation when people don’t know what they’re saving. But if they’ve experienced the beauty of the mountains, and seen what’s at risk, more kids will want to play their part. We hope that by encouraging a love and respect for the outdoors that we can help the next generation to be inspired to work towards a better planet.
Donating is the easiest way to support the organisation. Or you can buy Jake’s full video part for this year. It’s available on iTunes for £1.99, and all the proceeds will go towards the Mountain Light Project. Hopefully it gets people stoked to go ride as well!