Most Denverites are all too familiar with the trek that is sitting through hours of traffic on the I-70 corridor at 6 a.m. on a Saturday in the peak of winter. Colorado is famous for its beautiful winter playgrounds, but for those who didn’t grow up in the mountains, it can be a little challenging to get comfortable in the great outdoors.
Quincy Shannon, Denver native and co-founder of Ski Noir 5280, understood this best and now works to diversify who you see on the mountains. “I am beyond blessed,” Shannon said. “I clicked into skis at the very young age of 3 and inherited my love for skiing from my mother who had the foresight to put me on skis to keep me out of trouble.”
Growing up in Denver as an inner-city kid, Shannon says his life could’ve been very different. “Drugs, gangs and violence were things that I had gotten used to seeing, and being able to escape to the mountains where I had the clarity and vision to realize life was really something much grander,” he said.
Shannon has a ton of big visions centered around finding new ways to share his lifelong passion for skiing with people who might never have gotten a chance, whether because of their socioeconomic status, the color of their skin or a lack of transportation from Denver’s inner city to the mountains.
It really all started in 2018 when he realized he had way too many friends he wanted to take skiing — but it wasn’t easy to coordinate the necessary gear and the individual time one needs to feel comfortable on the hill. As a result, Ski Noir 5280 was born.
“I never skied before even though I’m a Colorado native,” said Tanzania Trout, a local Denverite that attended an event with Ski Noir at Arapahoe Basin. “It’s something I was somewhat interested in but it was too expensive for me to want to try it and not be sure if I’d even like it. So this was a great opportunity.”
Shannon’s mission is to introduce more Black and Brown skiers and snowboarders to the sport and, in turn, increase the historically small percentage of minority skiers in Colorado. For instance, during the 2020-2021 winter season at Aspen Snowmass, 87% of skiers were white, 11% were Latinx, 4% were Asian and 1% were Black. Political and industry leaders in Colorado recognize this racial gap and are at the forefront of making the mountains inclusive for all. This year Aspen Snowmass hosted the Annual National Black Ski Summit where over 1,000 members of the National Brotherhood of Skiers — who are passionate about introducing BIPOC to the sport — gather for a celebration of their efforts and progress.
Ski Noir 5280 is now accredited by the National Brotherhood of Skiers, a nationwide organization dedicated to improving opportunities for Black skiers and riders. Outdoor brands like Patagonia, Copper Mountain, Aspen Snowmass and many more have gotten word of Shannon’s vision and donated apparel and gear to help fit club members free of charge. While there is still more to be done, this collaboration has helped lower the barrier to entry for skiers even more.
Thanks to great partners like Patagonia, Shannon is able to offer club members a garage-full of ski apparel that they can use free of charge during their trips. Resort partners have also offered discount lift tickets, group rates and ski lessons in support of Ski Noir’s mission to diversify the mountains. In just a few years, the club has grown to over 75 members. Shannon coordinates several trips a year full of new and veteran skiers and snowboarders most often to Ikon Mountain Resorts based on a collaboration Ski Noir has formed with the Ikon Pass where members were able to get a discounted season pass.
Shannon has big dreams in the works to continue to make the mountains inclusive — for everyone. Shannon most recently started a company called Neighborhood Uplift which is currently raising funds to purchase their own charter bus to help provide better access and accessibility to truly diversify the mountains. Neighborhood Uplift is also developing a youth program to help introduce the next generation to winter sports.To donate to their go fund me, click here.
To find out how to join the club, click here.