The first Annual Ladies Layback Weekend was unreal. I’ve done a lot of events over the years and I can’t recall going to one where I heard absolutely NO complaints from anyone. Seriously, this was that first in my book. Rain, snow, wind, and ice… nothing put a stop to the pure stoke around Mt Baker throughout the weekend. The women and girls who made it up there weren’t there for a spa weekend, or a full-service retreat, they were there for a Baker experience with new friends and old, in the elements, with lots of activities to choose from and lots of reasons to celebrate. The Layback weekend was a full success, full send, full-on party, with a group of inspirational females, all ages, who love snowboarding.

When Robin first talked to me about this event, I thought it sounded awesome, but it was a very ambitious undertaking considering how busy we all are. I’ve been hosting Gnu girls weekends at Baker for the last couple years that involved an on-snow demo and an evening party with some movies and inspiring photos. The Layback event plan was taking that to the next level, times 10… way more than I ever imagined taking on, but I’m so glad Robin and Hana were determined enough to make this happen! We wanted to do something more inclusive that encouraged more participation among women and girls from multiple generations. The strong history and influence that women at Mt Baker have had on snowboarding over the last 3 decades is rarely talked about, and I wanted to share some of the history of women around the mountain who have been inspiring me for years. Baker has a reputation for challenging terrain, but most riders aren’t seeking fame or recognition for riding there, they are there for the love of the mountains and the relative simplicity of life in Glacier. Layback was a full weekend party, in celebration of the love of snow, skate, and surf, and the influence of those activities on all of us. There was a campout in the parking lot, a skate ramp in a dry heated tent, and a backcountry awareness clinic with some very knowledgeable speakers and hands-on learning. Mt Baker let us throw a retro party at the Raven hut on-hill with live music, movies, a Baker ladies slideshow, and an art auction. Sunday brought some wet snow and heavy winds, but the show went on (without any complaining) and 100+ riders from 5-50 years old rode in a layback retro style pipe comp. Legendary surfers, skaters, artists, musicians, and snowboarders all brought their flow to the snow. After an epic awards ceremony with beautiful trophies and lots of cool prizes, those ladies that weren’t volunteering to break down the skate ramp, tents, and equipment enjoyed some yoga on their way out of town at Mt Baker Snowboards. And the whole weekend was for a good cause! Money was raised for B4BC, Changing Tides Foundation, and the local Coal Pad Skatepark.

Robin Van Gyn and Hana Beaman are the powerhouses behind this whole thing and their vision came to life because they set their minds to it and looked beyond the challenges to see the end goal. They worked their asses off to take care of every detail and remove every obstacle. Much like their approach to snowboarding, they don’t really see any reason why they can’t do it, so they just give ‘er. Not a reckless toss, but a confident, calculated throw down and they usually stomp it. I can only assume this is why they’ve been so successful at their snowboarding goals. Hana throwing 7’s over the Mt Baker road gap, Robin filming back to back award-winning video parts. I think they deserve an award for pulling off this event. A really big one. But, they aren’t in it for the awards or the recognition, those girls are truly some of the strongest riders I know, and they have the strongest work ethic in the biz. Their enthusiasm was contagious. I know I wasn’t the only one that walked away from this weekend feeling inspired. Not just for getting after it on the snow but for getting after life in general. I don’t generally roll around with a crew of girlfriends and I don’t feel like I need that to have fun. But, being around these women and girls was really fun and motivating. Just witnessing the energy and seeing what’s possible with a committed crew and positive attitude makes me want to accomplish more and make sure there are more activities and events for encouraging female participation in this sport.

So hopefully, Robin and Hana and all the women who charged are getting a chance to layback now that it’s over and celebrate success. Power and grace are necessary to do a legit layback and make it look easy whether it’s snow, surf, or skate. That was definitely true for the Ladies Layback weekend. The Unreal power and grace that everyone involved brought to the Layback weekend from start to finish made it all look easy. I’m looking forward to more Layback weekends in the future!

-Barrett Christy

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