Nikki's journey started with ski racing in Michigan, leading her to study engineering in Colorado. Transitioning from alpine racing to backcountry skiing, she became a trip leader at the Outdoor Recreation Center. While in Bozeman, Montana, she found her niche in snow science, aligning closely with civil engineering. This led to research in the Earth Sciences and Civil Engineering Departments, as well as teaching local avalanche courses.

After graduating, Nikki worked in the Subzero Science and Engineering Laboratory, focusing on snow mechanics and continuing her work in avalanche education. Seeking further experience, she went to the Chugach Range in Alaska, collaborating with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. The women at CNFAIC became mentors, guiding her toward pursuing forecasting in various programs across the West.

Nikki eventually landed in Utah, where she currently works. Even during summers, she remains connected to snow, working as a mountain guide and mentor on Mount Rainier, the Cascades, and Denali for about nine seasons. In rare snow-free moments, she enjoys mountain biking, trail running, and experimenting with new recipes in Utah and Washington.

  • Doughnuts or Bagels?  Generally, a bagel person.
  • Home mountain range?  I am seasonal work, so my home mountain range in the winter is the Wasatch and the Cascades in the summer. I would currently call the Wasatch home, though.
  • Favorite mountain/trail? This one is tricky since so many mountains have my heart. I have fallen in love with the Wasatch, and some of my favorite days have been doing bi-canyons from Little Cottonwood to Big Cottonwood, covering so much dynamic terrain. Denali is a pretty special place that I have had both horrible and amazing experiences, but either way, some of the most memorable experiences on - and when it comes to biking, one of my favorite trails will always be Captain Ahab in Moab.
  • Go-to aprés beverage? Big fan of a cold Mexican lager
  • Day job? Avalanche forecaster and mountain guide.
  • How do you give back to your community/what are some causes you support? I've been fortunate to have incredible mentors throughout my career, particularly in male-dominated fields like mountain guiding and snow science. Actively seeking out female mentorship has been crucial for me, and in return, I strive to give back by serving as both a female mentor and advocate in the realms of mountain guiding and avalanche education. This involves working on female-specific avalanche training, providing professional mentorship, and serving as a supervisor involved in hiring and training within my guide service.
  • Favorite piece of Wild Rye gear? Surprise to no one, I've been stoked on the Freyah Pants for mountain biking. the occasional failed attempt at nordic skiing, and even some spring training hikes for alpine objectives. I'm looking forward to Olivia Onsie for snowmobiling, and resort skiing.
  • Any fun or big plans for the next season/year? I'm on a generally normal rotation, spending most of the winter in Utah, hoping we get as much snow as 2023, and then returning to Alaska in May for another Denali program. Hoping to spend a bit more time around Utah this summer.


Follow Nikki's adventure at @nikkichampp

Check out some podcasts featuring Nikki HEREHERE and HERE