Eric Balken

MYSTERY RANCH Mountain Ambassador

Hometown

Salt Lake City, UT

Resides

Salt Lake City, UT

Profession

5. Executive director of Glen Canyon Institute, semi-professional skier

I’m a ski bum, a desert rat, and an aspiring environmentalist. As a kid growing up in Salt Lake City, my family would make trips to Southern Utah several times a year. The mysterious gorges and hidden sandy grottoes of Zion and Canyonlands were my playground, and would forever shape my understanding of the outdoors. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized many of the wild places I cherished were threatened, and needed people to protect them. It was then I started volunteering for environmental groups while continuing my exploration of mountains and deserts.

After spending my freshman year of college out of state, I chose to return to Salt Lake to finish my degree in a city closer to skiing. This is when I truly became a ski bum – someone who builds a life to maximize time on the mountain. Entering my “adult years” taught me that in order to ski as much as I wanted, I would have to sleep less, work more, and take classes during off hours. I graduated from the University of Utah with bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography, and began working for an environmental non-profit Glen Canyon Institute.

Almost a decade later, I’m now the director of GCI and a semi-professional skier, still spending most of my free time pursuing the ski bum and desert rat dream: maximizing my time in the places I love. As the years go on, I value these places more, and grow a deeper desire to protect them. My goal is to explore and protect. I want to push myself to new places, skiing lines and mountains that test my abilities, and I want to push myself to reduce my impact and become a more effective environmentalist.

Pure environmentalism is only an ideal – all humans have an impact. How you work towards that ideal is what matters.

Accomplishments:

  • Featured in ProPublica Editorial on Glen Canyon Restoration (2016) Backcountry Magazine Cover (2012)
  • Ski Salt Lake Shootout 3rd place (2011)
  • Ski Salt Lake Shootout 1st place (2013)
  • Ski Salt Lake Shootout 3rd place (2017)

Foundations:

  • Glen Canyon Institute
  • Wasatch Backcountry Alliance

What Mystery Ranch Packs do you Run?

  • Blackjack, Stein, Dry Cell

Other Sponsors:

  • Moment Skis, FlyLow Outerwear, Julbo Eyewear, Corbeaux Clothing

Favorite Quote:

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle