Alexa Hohenberg sounds like she has the dream life. The 31 year-old Brit lives on the beach in Sydney, Australia, makes TV programmes for a living and spends her free time surfing and snowboarding.
However, last month the 31 year-old quit her job. She is packing up her life in Australia for a new adventure – to train as a helicopter mountain guide in Alaska.
“I wanted to do something that really makes me happy. I didn’t want to look back in a couple of years and think, I wish I did that. I don’t have kids or a mortgage or a boyfriend. There’s no reason not to do it.”
Alexa has always been a keen snowboarder, ever since she stepped on her first snowboard aged 11. “I just absolutely fell in love with it.”
She spent every summer riding in Les Deux Alpes in France, hanging with the British pros. Then when she turned 18, Alexa bought a ticket to Whistler, Canada to try and kickstart a career in competitive snowboarding.
However, in her second season, injury forced her off the mountain and onto the couch . “I fell with a crowd of pro snowboarders who were making their own video edits. They put Final Cut Pro on my computer and taught me how to do it all.”
While recovering from her injury, Alexa found a real love for filming and went on to make the first UK female snowboard movie in 2005, Snowballs, featuring Jenny Jones and Laura Berry. “I found filmmaking was a really great way to communicate my love for snowboarding.”
After two knee surgeries and torn shoulder, Alexa decided it was time to swap seasonaire life for the big city.
She found herself working in advertising in London on the Nissan Sports Adventure campaign – which involved making videos for the Freeride World Tour and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
“I only lasted three years. I really struggled with living in London. It’s a great city, but I felt trapped.”
So Alexa upped sticks once more and headed off to New Zealand and Australia to spend more time snowboarding. But once again, injury took its toll on Alexa’s knee, forcing her back to a regular 9 to 5 job.
She landed a role making TV programmes in Australia with a former boss from London – and has now been living here for five years.
“The lifestyle in Australia is great. I live on the beach, but I’ve still got a city job. I get to go snowboarding every weekend in winter – and I’m back in time for work on Monday.”
It sounds like a pretty idyllic lifestyle, but Alexa now has a new adventure on the horizon.
Her plan is to sell all her belongings and train as a helicopter mountain guide in Utah and Alaska, with a month riding powder in Japan and an epic road trip touring the big American ski resorts in a van.
“Heliboarding will ruin your life in the most beautiful and crazy way. As soon as you try it, everything else goes out of the window – because it’s just out-of-this-world incredible.”
Heliboarding however is not a cheap hobby. It involves a helicopter flying you to the top of a mountain – and you ski or snowboard down. A week’s heli holiday in Alaska costs nearly $6,000 USD. That’s around £4,000.
So how is she going to afford it all? “Back in March this year, I decided to start saving hard. I looked at what I was spending my money on and prioritised everything. I managed to save $4,000 just selling things I don’t even use anymore – juicers, clothes, a bunch of snowboards.”
“I weigh everything up against heli fuel. I’ll go to buy a pair of shoes and think no, I won’t because that’s about five minutes of heli fuel. I’ve practically given up drinking. I drink one margarita a week, just so I can do two weeks every year.”
Alexa also runs her own women’s action sports blog called Still Stoked, where women can go to find inspiration on anything from surfing to riding big mountains.
Alexa wants to document her upcoming adventures here as a way of inspiring more women to get out into the backcountry.
“There are definitely more men riding big mountains right now than women. It’s rare to have a whole crew of girls out [in Alaska]. I don’t know what if it’s a fear thing with women. But I do think creating more content around women in the backcountry will encourage more women to do the same.”
While it might sound like a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, Alexa admits she’s nervous about making the decision to leave her life in Australia and start afresh.
“The only reason I could think of not doing this heli guiding course was because I was scared I would suck at it. That’s actually a reason to do it more than anything.”
“I’ve got a pretty good set up in Australia. I’ve got all the stuff a 31 year-old should probably have acquired – life savings, a washing machine. I’m going to sell it all and live out of a bag with no plans.
“I feel like I’m doing all of the things society doesn’t think I should be doing. But at the same time, I’m doing all the things that really make me happy and excited to wake up every day. If you’re so passionate about something, how can it go wrong?”
Photos courtesy of Alexa Hohenberg, Matt Ward and Tristan FS