Iris Neary

Age: 21 | Vitals: 5’6”, 145 lbs. | Years Skiing: 10 | Current Residence: Squamish, BC


I grew up in Juneau, Alaska, tagging along with parents on the Nordic track before quitting at age 10, because XC skiing to me was slow and a lot of work. Two years later, I made the switch to alpine skiing at the local hill, Eaglecrest Ski Area.

After a few years of skiing, one season instructing, and a torn ACL, I took two years off from skiing and cultivated a new passion for climbing mountains on foot. Hiking was simply all I could do for the summer months following surgery.

During my gap year between high school and college, I took an avalanche course, hit up the resort, and got out into the wild mountains surrounding Juneau. My love of hiking quickly morphed into a fascination with backcountry skiing, as it combined the wild and self-powered aspect of hiking with the exhilarating descent of skiing. I cut my skinning teeth chasing Eaglecrest patrollers up Juneau mountains and cruising up the resort after it had closed for the spring. For three months of that gap year, I also went on a solo-backpacking mission around New Zealand, and enrolled in an eleven-day technical mountaineering course around Mt. Cook.

Today I spend every ski day in the backcountry, hunting for the aspects and elevations that may offer the best adventure for the current weather and avalanche conditions. I find the fun of skiing in coastal powder by farming through old growth forests, playing on pillow lines, and cruising alpine meadows.

Iris Neary, Blister Gear Review
Iris Neary, Summit ridge of Fissile Peak, Whistler Backcountry, BC. (photo by Martin Schuster)

In the past year, I’ve also embraced the challenging world of ski mountaineering. I find myself living for the trial of exhausting 15-hour days with the skins and crampons, and am looking at more technical ascents and steeper descents.  I am also fascinated with traverses that combine technical skills with multiple self-supported days in the high alpine. The severe and glaciated mountain ranges of British Columbia, combined with the incredible access of logging roads and trails, has allowed me to pursue my dreams of ski mountaineering nearly every weekend that weather, conditions, and homework allow.

Gear I’m stoked on:

I’m blown away with the performance of the 4FRNT EHP (2011) in powder and chop, making it my do-it-all ski. I also love the versatility of the Black Diamond Venom Ice Axe, and my 26-liter Deuter Cruise SL (2011) backpack.


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