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Colter Hinchliffe: Professional Freeride Skier

  • by T.O. Trapper
  • 2 min read

Made For the Mountains

You could say Colter Hinchliffe was born to ski. Growing up near Aspen, he started hitting the slopes at three and was riding the local ski bus by ten. After a short stint in college, he dropped out and moved to Utah, where he got his foot in the door with the local professional skiing community. It took about five years before he could call himself a professional. Today he spends 200 days skiing and four weeks filming every winter. "Making it was my dream," he says. "But even if I hadn't made it, I'd still be skiing just as much." 

Developing an Acceptable Risk Tolerance

Hinchliffe's made his name as a freeride skier, which means he spends his days forging big mountain backcountry routes. When you stay away from groomed slopes, your safety depends on your skill, knowledge, and preparation. "You need an acceptable risk tolerance," Hinchcliffe says. "Because the ability to manage risks is what makes the difference. There's lots of wisdom and decision-making to keep people safe."

 

Those steps include bringing the right gear and nutrition, regular training in case things go wrong, but also having the experience to avoid bad situations in the first place.

Skiing is the Easy Part

Professional skiing isn't always as glamorous as it seems. There's a lot prep work that goes on behind the camera before capturing an epic ride. "Finding a line in good condition is really difficult," Hinchliffe says. You have wake up at five in the morning to get to the right place at the right time, and then you're snowmobiling in negative three degrees until you have to hike to the top of the mountain. Skiing is the easy part."


Fueled by a Deep Love of Skiing

Staying motivated despite the grind is possible thanks to Hinchliffe's deep love of skiing. "My perfect day of skiing would be waking up to seven inches of snow with bombs going off in the mountains," Hinchliffe says. "It snows all day, so conditions just get better and better. I can ski bell-to-bell with my friends until we take a backcountry trail to the road."

"The freedom and joy I feel when I ski are what keep me coming back," he says. "I'm still chasing the feeling of that first powder day."

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