Five Questions With Skier and Mountain Guide Jessica Baker

Our athletes and ambassadors shred gnar and send hard lines, but there’s much more behind the scenes: other careers, balancing family life, creating art, giving back. To dig deeper into the adventure lifestyle, we’ve created Five Questions, an ongoing feature asking OR athletes the hard questions. And sometimes more than just five.

How did you get started in your sport?

My parents had a vision to raise their family in a pristine and wild natural environment. So before I was born, they left the Bay Area and set out to find that place and moved to northern Idaho. I was raised amongst the Selkirk Mountains, glacial lakes, and rich cedar, pine, and fir forests of the northern panhandle of Idaho. At a young age I was introduced to skiing, hiking, scrambling, biking, swimming, water sports, gardening, farming and so much more. I attribute my passion and drive for adventures in the mountains to my upbringing and ethics imbibed from a young age.

What keeps you climbing and skiing? 

There is a deep satisfaction that comes with a day of climbing or skiing. I think it’s a combination of factors, but being surrounded by a natural environment full of peace and beauty, challenging your physical limits, and just breathing fresh air, keeps me coming back time and time again. I have made it my life, and I am thankful for the opportunity every day.

What is your typical daily/weekly schedule? 

In the winter, I wake up at 6 a.m., read the 24-hour weather summary, write in my avalanche notebook about my route for the day, snowpack etc., eat toast with almond butter, or maybe a couple fried eggs. Finish packing for the day and hop in the car or catch the bus to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or Teton Backcountry. Catch an early tram or start skinning into the high peaks of the Tetons. Slay powder all day long, maybe scare myself a little in a steep exposed couloir or two, maybe some cliff drops. Apres at the VC or Dornans, dinner, sleep, and then get ready to do it all over again the next day.

Finish this sentence: In high school, I was ... trying to maintain my 4.0 average while missing more than 30 days a year for skiing, trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, and avoid awkward teenage moments as much as possible. Somehow I made it all work.

Any advice to young people getting started in your sport? 

Stay focused on your goals and dreams. If you want to be a professional skier, you can make it happen, but it takes hard work and perseverance. It’s not all fun and games. You have to train hard in the off seasons. Work on your technique, improve your hard skills at every opportunity. And most importantly, respect the mountains, the snowpack, and your partners in the mountains.

Favorite place on the planet? 

So many favorites…home is where the heart is, and my heart is in many places. Teton and Wind River Ranges of Wyoming; Chugach and Alaska Ranges of Alaska; La Grave, France; Canadian Rockies; Three Sisters Ranch, Idaho…

If you could leave aspiring athletes with one important piece of life advice or words of wisdom, what would it be? 

Live every day to it’s fullest. Follow your dreams, don’t put off your passions for other mundane things. And appreciate your loved ones—life is a fragile, fleeting moment, take advantage while you can.  

What are you looking forward to this year?

I’m looking forward to exploring new mountains, especially new areas of the Chugach. Ski guiding from a helicopter really expands your sense of terrain and your ability to explore uncharted territory.  

What’s your favorite piece of OR gear?

I love the Valhalla soft shell jacket and pant combo. I spent most of my winter in them, exploring a variety of terrain in a full spectrum of weather, and they perform so well. Breathable, semi-waterproof, lightweight, comfortable and stylish, these are definitely my go-to pieces for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.

Where do you live now and why? 

I live in Jackson, Wyo. I live here because of the unparalleled access to amazing ski terrain. I’ve skied and traveled all over the world, and I still come back to the Tetons and surrounding area looking forward to all the adventure and beauty they provide. The greater Teton/Yellowstone ecosystem is teeming with wildlife and amazing geologic features. This is a great place to call home—err, I mean, it’s way to cold here, I don’t suggest moving here.

What are three things that most people don’t know about you?

1. I moonlight as a DJ. My DJ pseudonym is the Selectress. I’ve always loved a wide variety of music, and played various instruments throughout my life. Dj-ing was a natural progression. I like to play gigs where the crowd is ready for anything I put out there, and apt to dance their booties off. Jazz, funk, reggae, hip-hop, soul, electronica, rock and some indie are all influences in what I play.

2. I grew up on a farm. Some of my daily chores included feeding chickens, collecting their eggs, feeding the baby goats with bottles of warm milk, distributing hay to the horses, and chasing little piglets that ran off with my lunch sack.

3. I have three sisters, making four of us total, and we all have red hair and freckles. My dad is a patient man.