Breck Guide: Patti Banks
“How lucky are we right now?” Patti shouts over another rumble. It’s something she has thought to herself frequently in the 30+ years she’s spent in the mountains of Colorado, but today in particular it resonates. She and Jenny, her friend and client for the day, sit out on a ledge overlooking one of her favorite high-alpine bowls at Breck. Another boom echoes across the mountains, and she looks back to a nearby patroller as his walkie-talkie crackles. He gives them a play-by-play on what’s coming next, how the charges are placed, and the strategy patrollers are using to clear the bowl so it’s safe to open for the day. Another charge detonates and they all watch in awe as more snow breaks free. Patti and Jenny exchange smiles that can only reiterate their shared sentiment “how lucky are we right now?” It’s only mid-morning and it’s already one of their most memorable ski days.
Patti came to Colorado from Connecticut in 1981 after graduating with her teaching degree. Not knowing that her path would lead her to days like this, Patti did know she wasn’t meant to work indoors. She got her start as a rafting guide, then took a life-changing Outdoor Leadership Training Seminar that taught her how to be a leader in the backcountry. Through the friends she’d made, a great boss who taught her to ski so she could become an instructor, and a fortuitous meeting with the love of her life, she soon found herself working in Breck. She has happily been there ever since.
Now, as a guide for Breck, Patti enjoys the additional time she spends with Ski Patrol and the mutual respect Patrol and the Guides have for each other. This unique relationship and getting to share the Patrollers’ wealth of knowledge with clients is what makes for truly memorable and unique guided experiences.
Over the past thirty years Patti has helped skiers of all ages and abilities take their skills to the next level. And while they love the way she simplifies the learning process, it is most often her spunk, kindness, and enthusiasm that makes the days so memorable.
If you get to spend the day with Patti, be prepared for a truly unique behind-the-scenes experience. According to her fellow guides, Patti is a soulful person who has the most amazing way of connecting with people, is the team “mom,” is an incredible organizer and communicator, and can do just about anything on every type of ski and board. And if you want to learn a thing or two about her favorite animals, be sure to ask about the llamas she spends summers alongside. That’s right—llamas.