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The rotor blades whir overhead as Amie Engerbretson steps out of the helicopter door and into knee deep dry powder. She grabs her skis, crouches low, and covers her face from the million tiny crystal prisms swirling and gleaming as the heli takes off and banks down into the valley. Silence rings in the absence of the huge machine and all that’s left is the surrounding razor-sharp towers of the Southern Andes and 3000 feet of perfect cold smoke powder stacked up below.
She and her crew are some of Patagonia Heli Ski’s first customers. Each morning they fly from a world class fishing lodge over Instagram worthy lakes and waterfalls and into mountains that have never been skied before. This has become Engerbretson’s life, eating gourmet meals in exotic remote backcountry lodges and skiing first descents in some of the best snow on earth.
“For me, the point of building a ski career is to get experience all these amazing places I wouldn’t get to ski otherwise. It’s really a dream come true.” Engerbretson explains.
Engerbretson was born into the ski lifestyle. He father, Jeff Engerbretson was a professional skier and as a child she would accompany him on photoshoots. As he transitioned his career to spend more time behind the lens, she spent more and more time in front of it. Those years set the course for Engerbretson’s life and career. Though she quit ski racing for ballet dancing at age 11, a passion that she took to a performance level throughout her days at Columbia College of Chicago, skiing was always a on her mind.
Almost immediately out of college she graced the cover of SKI magazine and her career took off from there. She began working with Warren Miller Entertainment and building her sponsor portfolio. Each year provides new and unique experiences but 2018 was a year of firsts. The Andes trip was her first time to Argentina. Another first was her trip to Iceland for a Warren Miller segment where she birthed sheep, rode Icelandic horses, and skied under the midnight sun near the arctic circle. She also found herself shooting photos and testing gear she co-designed with SPYDER in New Zealand, her first trip down under.
Engerbretson has experienced more in her 30 years than most people do in a lifetime and that experience shows. She’s as savvy working with photographers and cinematographers in dangerous backcountry scenarios as she is with supporting her sponsors with content distribution or designing world class product. She’s been working on revamping key pieces SPYDER’s line to include other things, a head-to-toe GORE outerwear collection for women and an insulator line that won’t quit.
“SPYDER has always been about progressing design, dating back to their start in race gear. But they’re so much more now, which is why I was excited when their designers sat with me to create some key pieces to get me where I’m going,” commented Engerbretson. “The Jagged GTX is a 3L GORE-TEX stretch shell that rips right alongside anything you’ll see the guys wearing. And their Syrround Down set of puffies…, well if you’ve ever had the down in an insulator move around and create cold spots, or pop welds… well, these are for you.”
Though she cherishes her time on the road, she is more excited than ever to return to her Lake Tahoe home where her fur baby Bill and her also-professional-skier partner Tod Ligare wait to shower her with love. Apparently Bill is quite the skier so the ski family lineage is bound to carry on for many years to come.