Bellingham is a great place to be no matter what you’re into – professional mountain bikers, ultra-runners, whitewater kayakers, and loads of other high-caliber outdoor athletes call Bellingham home. But why would a professional snowboarder from California settle down here? After sitting down with Hana Beaman, professional snowboarder and fun-hogger, we found out why.
Hana is known for an impressive snowboarding career that has taken her around the globe in search of perfect snow and stunning mountain ranges, but she calls the temperate climate of Bellingham, WA home for good reason. Hana has chased snow from the Rockies to New Zealand, from Japan to Chile, and even odd places like post-civil war Bosnia. As she found herself transitioning from the popular park scene to remote, backcountry lines, Hana was spending more and more time in Whistler and other parts of British Columbia. On down days, she would travel down to Bellingham, exploring the area through hikes and mountain bike rides. With some encouragement from a friend, Hana eventually packed up her things from Salt Lake and moved to Bellingham in 2011.
“It was way closer to what I wanted to be doing. The mountains provided the terrain that I like to ride and the crew of people out here in the Pacific Northwest is awesome. So I decided to buy a house,” she explains.
Now, Hana lives just steps away from world-class mountain biking in the Chuckanut Mountains, a scenic drive away from the Mt. Baker Ski Area, and a couple hours from bigger mountains in the Whistler area. Living in Bellingham, Hana has become familiar with our local treasure, the Mt. Baker Ski Area and the community that thrives there.
She says, “despite Mt. Baker Ski Area being kind of small, it has so many features and amazing pieces of terrain packed into it. You have to know the mountain more intimately to really take advantage of it. I’ve had some of my best powder days up there, and even during busy weekends, it’s really not too packed.”
That carries some serious weight from someone who has filmed and competed in some of the top ski destinations in the world. Hana explains, “the people are here to ride. It’s a real riders mountain.”
Hana also appreciates the low-key, family vibe of Mt. Baker. “You may not get some of the convenience that comes with riding at the larger ski areas in the country, but it’s rad because you get to know the owners, the ski patrol, and I really appreciate that.”
When Hana isn’t travelling or riding with her Mt. Baker family, she can be found below the snow line, taking advantage of Bellingham’s world-renowned mountain bike trails. As many Bellingham residents and visitors alike know, Bellingham has a plethora of trails to ride.
“I’m only just getting to know all the different trails and fun people that are in the biking community here, but everybody is really cool and very intertwined with other sport circles,” she says. It seems that a general love of being outside year-round runs amuck here in Bellingham. Explaining the biking scene, Hana says, “No matter where you live there are trails near you, and then you go out of town a bit and there’s even more. It’s almost like the neighborhood bar. There’s everyone’s regular “back-yard” trail, but then you can always go out and explore the other options. Bellingham biking is really accessible and has a great variety.” And the bike community doesn’t limit itself to the trails. “Off the trails you see people out at the breweries or at yoga, it’s kind of a small scene but also expansive because so many people from out of town come to shred as well, it’s just full of rad people.”
I asked Hana to tell me what it’s like being a full-time snowboarder, and she replied, “It’s really fast-paced, and I enjoyed that. But more recently, I’ve been wanting to settle down, grow roots, be home more. I really enjoy sleeping in my own bed, having a closet, and knowing what I’m doing the next day. Bellingham has been really good for me as I’m naturally slowing down. I used to be home for a total of 14 days in the winter and now I get to spend so many days riding at Mt. Baker and having fun at home here in Bellingham. It helps me maintain my excitement for trips now, because it’s not all the time.”
Somewhat recently, Hana has started up a new passion in Bellingham, homemaking. “I really love homes and the process of finding someone their special place, so I got my real estate license last year.” By getting into real estate, Hana is able to snowboard on her own terms while maintaining a Bellingham lifestyle of year-round adventure. Hana says, Being new to real estate is reminiscent of my beginning snowboard days, I feel like the amateur again, so I’m learning a lot. I’ve gone from being a professional snowboarder for 18 years at the top of the pile, and now I feel like a baby fish in the pond learning how to swim.”
Despite how busy and fast-paced Hana’s life can be, she still maintains an ability to be a real part of both the Bellingham and greater snowboarding community. Over the past several years, Hana has put on various events that give back to her community. Last year, Hana put on the “Ladies Lay-Back Weekend”: an all-women skate and snow competition, camp-out, safety clinic, and all around good time at Mt. Baker. She also spends time as a guest instructor with SAFE-AS, an organization providing avalanche safety clinics to women.
“It’s been really nice to give back and help people get into the backcountry in a safe way. I’ve had a great time connecting local girls who shred on the mountain, and I’d love to keep doing more of that,” she says.
“With her positive ‘I can do anything’ attitude she has become one of the leading lady snowboarders of all time. After transitioning from a successful contest career Hana has been focused solely on backcountry filming wherein she consistently sends it deeper than most with one of the biggest smiles. She’s earned numerous accolades throughout her career including Transworld SNOWboarding’s Rider of the Year, Snowboarder Magazine’s Rider of the Year, and took home the bronze in the X Games Real Women video contest.”
– SAFE AS Clinics
Hana lives and breathes snowboarding for most of the year, but somehow, she manages to live an ultimate Bellingham life – taking advantage of the incredible biking, hiking trails, and our epic brewery and restaurant scene all while giving back to the snow community and holding down a day job. Keep up with Hana and her adventures on her Instagram page here.
Q and A:
What is your pre-ride ritual?
I don’t really have a ritual, we’re usually up so early and out very early. Sometimes I’ll make coffee and listen to a meditation podcast. I try to have everything ready the night before so I can just hit the road.
What are your favorite trails to ride in Bellingham?
I enjoy the trails in my backyard in the Chuckanuts, but also like to get over to Galbraith with friends whenever possible and pedal around on the classics like Scorpion, Irish Death, Mullet and Atomic dog. I don’t jump much on a bike (yet) but I like to play on the little ones when I feel confident. I’ve taken some friends new to biking out on Bobs and that trail is just super fun and a really quick lap. There’s fun on that trail for all levels.
Favorite places to eat?
Ovn is good, the Mt. Bakery is delicious. So is Harris St. Café. Aloha Poke.
Favorite place to grab a drink?
Swim Club. Galloways has really good cocktails, and I love going down to Aslan and some of the other breweries downtown.
30 years, professionally 18.
Where are you from?
Big Bear Lake, CA
Ideal Bellingham day?
I actually tried this the other day. Had a great morning powder session, came into the lodge had a hot cocoa and some food, had another run, came back home, and went for a bike ride near my house. Then went to happy hour at one of the many awesome happy hours in town.
I’ve even thought about a triple sport day, but the days are short in the winter. In the spring it’s totally doable. I did that last year, had a sweet powder day, went into town and it cleared up and had an amazing few laps at Galbraith. That was so rad!