Carving Her Path


A long-ago hike on Mt. Tom led Hanna Whirty ’13 to a career in the Rockies

For generations, Williston Northampton students have discovered their sense of purpose in the classroom, on the playing fields, or in the art studios. For Hanna Whirty ’13, though, her moment of insight came on a walk on Mt. Tom. “I was hiking when I decided that I needed to do this for the rest of my life,” says Whirty, now the Marketing Director for Icelantic Skis in Denver, Colorado. “Being outside, being outdoors, doing things like this—it was a really big epiphany.”

Whirty’s experience on Mt. Tom inspired the Massachusetts-born girl to head west to the Rockies and the University of Colorado Boulder. Her introduction to the skiing world in Colorado came quickly—first as one of the leaders of the school’s ski club (which had roughly 3,000 members), then at a marketing agency once she graduated.

One of her clients was Icelantic Skis. After building up a rapport with the company, Whirty took a huge chance and asked the co-founder and CEO, Ben Anderson, for a job at Icelantic.

“I was pretty keen on getting out of the agency world,” Whirty says. “I went up to Ben during a trade show and said, ‘You should hire me’—despite there being probably a million and one people ahead of me for the Marketing Director role,” she laughs. Whirty’s determination prevailed, though, and she got the job. Since then, she and Icelantic have fit like a ski boot in a fresh Icelantic binding.

Icelantic’s appeal is broad, but the company has carved out unique niches. First, the skis are manufactured in Colorado, only about 20 minutes away from Whirty’s office; second, the skis feature artwork created each year by co-founder Travis Parr. They also offer a three-year, “bomb-proof” warranty on the skis—“one of the best in the industry,” per Whirty—and the company is a Certified B Corp., meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance. “Ask anybody out here, our quality is pretty unmatched,” Whirty says. “You see people all the time in lift lines or on the mountain who have been skiing the same pair for 10-plus years, which is really cool.” The company’s careful attention to detail has earned loyal customers and cool crossover opportunities, such as partnerships with the National Parks Service and bands like Pink Floyd and Phish.

In an ever-changing marketplace, Whirty brings a valuable young point of view to everything from the brand’s website design to its photography. If you see a cool picture of a skier blasting through powder or wearing Icelantic clothing—Whirty probably took it. “There are days when we’re skiing, and I’m carrying a big camera pack and trying to keep up with these professional athletes. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m dying out here—this is so much work!’  Then I have that pinch-me moment, and I realize that this is my job. I’m getting paid to be out here skiing.”

While skiing is central to her job, Whirty isn’t just shredding the day away. Over the next year, Icelantic is gearing up to launch revamped styles of its most classic skis, and Whirty has some other exciting side projects. One she beams about is an all-women backcountry skiing expedition that Icelantic sponsors, which recently brought together women, ranging from age 21 to almost 70, for an epic getaway.

The sum of all this progress leaves Whirty in a state of reflection. That monumental walk on Mt. Tom sent Whirty down a run she couldn’t see the bottom of—but that felt right anyway. How far this trail will continue she doesn’t know—but she’s relishing every inch along the way. “I’m very grateful every day,” Whirty said. “I feel extremely grateful to be where I am and to be doing something that I love so dearly.”