Faculty of the Fortnight: Brennan Lagasse

Brennan Lagasse

From skiing Antarctica and scouting terrain along the Chugach Range in Alaska to writing for Powder Magazine and working on a thesis for his master’s degree, Brennan Lagasse sets himself apart in an esoteric community of people who share a common bond of ski adventure and writing.

Born in Rutland, VT, Lagasse grew up skiing the East Coast.

“I started skiing when I was 2 years old, my mom put me on skis.  Pico[Mountain Resort]was the first place I made turns.” Lagasse said.

Before making any trips out west, Lagasse found his interest for backcountry skiing at Tuckerman Ravine, a glacier cirque located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

“Tuckerman Ravine had a profound effect on me. That was the place I really cut my teeth backcountry skiing and decided this was something I wanted to do,” Lagasse said.  “Apparently out west there are Tuckerman Ravines everywhere, so I decided I needed to travel out west and check out some of these ski centers.”

After graduating from Colgate University, where Lagasse played football and then studied abroad in Australia, he headed west.

“Within a week of finishing school I had a packed car and headed to Squaw Valley where I had a job lined up working for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency,” Lagasse said.

“My initial goal coming out here was to just ski. My entire life I had never been able to just ski,” Lagasse said, “I always heard stories of people skiing bumming and it really appealed to me. I wanted to give myself to skiing. “

After a few years of ‘ski bumming’ Lagasse knew it was time for a change.

“I didn’t feel good just skiing everyday, going to work, not really using my brain and going to bed to repeat. It didn’t seem the same after awhile,” Lagasse said, explaining his motivation to pursue greater education at Humboldt State.

Upon graduating from Humboldt State and successfully publishing his thesis, Lagasse decided to return to the Sierras with a sense of accomplishment.

Back in Tahoe many opportunities and adventures presented themselves to Lagasse. The chance to work with Warren Miller opened many doors for him.

In 2009, one of Lagasse’s dreams came true, he was able to travel to Antarctica.

“I knew I wanted to go there, it had become my goal.  That, and ski on all seven continents. I met with Doug Stoup with Ice Axe Expeditions and worked out a way to get on board,” Lagasse said.  “I had done the basics to get my credentials to guide: wilderness first responder, CPR, avalanche one and two. An opportunity came up to help create a Warren Miller film. So just like that, I was on the ship and on my way.”

In 2010 Kevin Quinn with Points North Heli out of the Chugach Range in Alaska approached Lagasse with an opportunity to scout some terrain and guide in Alaska. “Quinn had this vision of Hut-to-Hut skiing in Alaska much like that in the Alps,” said Lagasse.

According to Lagasse the terrain hadn’t been accessed by helicopter, leaving the scouts to not only claim first ascents, but first descents as well.

“This past year was the first year of clients and was a great year, people were safe and we explored a lot of new terrain,” said Lagasse.

 By Alex Sullivan