Today is International Mountain Day and it is a reminder of how much #MountainsMatter. It’s more than tourism and outdoor recreation. Mountains are early indicators of climate change. They provide 60-80 percent of the world’s freshwater. Mountain areas are home for almost one billion people, and half the population depends on them for water, food and clean energy. Let’s not forget to speak up and be the voice of the mountains. Photo: the east face of Aoraki/Mt. Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand. In the second slide, you can see our group retreating (tiny dots circled in pink), not finding the snow conditions we desired to ski the face. @annakeelingguiding @cody_hughes91 Photo: @rob.lea
I have a soft spot in my heart for guidebooks…and the authors behind them. Creating mountain guidebooks isn’t something people do to get rich. It’s a labor of love that ultimately benefits the community to inspire, motivate and help people get outside. It’s comforting to know that there are people out there who are as obsessed with skiing and looking at mountain lines as I am. Getting to ski around the Lake Louise backcountry with @confessionsofaskibum was a pure delight. He’s put so much time, money and energy into his beautiful guidebooks to the area. I highly recommend checking out his feed and picking up a copy of his backcountry ski guidebook so he can write more. #bigmtndreams
When we have a close call in the mountains, I believe it’s important to own our mistakes and learn from the experience. It isn’t easy to write about, but by being self-reflective and transparent and sharing the lessons learned, we all benefit and it makes our whole community more resilient. Yesterday, I unintentionally remotely triggered a D1.5 size avalanche while skiing in the Banff backcountry with @rob.lea and @confessionsofaskibum. No one was caught. I posted a note about the incident on my Facebook. You can read it via the link below or in my profile. Some takeaways:Be aware of how the presence of a camera changes risk. Communication between group members is key. Speak up if you feel uncertain. Radios are a good idea. Low danger does not equal no danger. I’m glad no one was caught and it was a good reminder early in the season to evaluate decision-making and to keep improving how I manage risk in the mountains and move through avalanche terrain.Photo: @confessionsofaskibum Check out his page for the entire sequence of the avalanche. https://m.facebook.com/notes/caroline-gleich/december-1-2018-unintentional-remotely-skier-triggered-avalanche-near-lake-louis/1975878002507040/
If you zoom in, you will see the biggest grin on my face. Day 17 on skis for the 18-19 season!#I came up to Banff to speak at the Decentralized Energy Forum #DEF2018 and had an exciting day yesterday doing a keynote speech where I shared some of the parallels between managing risk in the mountains and the business arena. Public speaking is a different kind of adrenaline rush, and it’s one I enjoy very much. Huge thanks to all the conference organizers and attendees for bringing me here! We’re taking advantage of the opportunity to be in Banff and will be adventuring in the area for a few more days! Today, we linked up with several local crushers that I’ve been following on the gram for awhile (@kyleetothohler, @shittymountaineer and @makkybobby) to have them show us around their backyard. I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel through the backcountry with folks who know the mountain so intimately, and to get to know another ripping woman! Kylee is on the Canadian Skimo team and is one of the fastest women in North America. I loved getting to know her, Kieran and Michael and I can’t wait to see more of the mountains on skis during this trip! #bigmtndreams Photo: @rob.lea
Never doubt the power of speaking up to make a difference in the world. In 2015, I attended a Park City Council meeting where the council was voting to set a goal of net zero carbon emissions for municipal operations by 2022 and citywide by 2032. A group of us spoke up in support of the resolution, and it passed. At the time, it was North America’s most ambitious community-wide climate goal. A year later, they invited other communities to join. Salt Lake, Moab and others followed. This is already beginning to radically change our grid in the state of Utah, and the energy landscape of the West. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Tomorrow, they are meeting once again to consider accelerating the timeline by two years to achieve the net zero goal by 2030, and if you’re local to Park City, I’m inviting you to attend the meeting, speak up to support the initiative (there will be time for public comment) and to offer my support! We’re seeing the devastating effects of climate change and anything we can do to accelerate a transition to 100% renewable will help avoid catastrophic outcomes. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀When: Thursday, November 29, 2018 between 6-7 pmWhere: City Council Chambers, 445 Marsac Ave., Park City, Utah 84060 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀I wish I could make it! Let me know if you need any info or support to help facilitate your attendance. Huge thanks to @parkcitygovt for setting this example and to all the climate activists who have helped make this happen! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Photo: @louisarevalo
Love in the Himalayas. Climbing Cho Oyu, with @rob.lea, my significant other, wasn’t all kisses at 21,000’. Going into the big mountains as a couple can either break you or bring you closer together. When you’re in love with your partner, it changes how you assess and manage risk. For us, our relationship dynamic tends to change our risk management in a good way. As a couple and a climbing team, we are more careful, conservative and willing to walk away when we are together. One of the things I love so much about my dynamic with Rob is that he respects my expertise, listens to my opinion and trusts my intuition in the mountains. He’s not afraid to be led by a woman. There are only a handful of people I could spend a month in a tent with, and he is at the top of that short list. That doesn’t mean there weren’t significant conflicts and challenges along the way… Come hear more! Rob and I are speaking with a handful of other local crushers at the @ascentbackcountry slideshow at the Park City Library on December 5. Link to event info below and in profile! Hope to see you there. https://m.facebook.com/events/2826428864049367/
I can’t believe it’s been five years since this photo ran on the cover of @powdermagazine. I wanted to share some of the back story. This shoot came about when a when a website (not Powder) reached out and asked me if I wanted to be featured in an online gallery. They sent me some sample images. In the shots, the women were in bikinis in a pool, in short skirts and shorts. I quickly understood what they were looking for. The phenomenon of sexualizing female athletes isn’t unique to skiing. Sex and skin sell. It gets clicks, it gets advertiser dollars. Yet, it left me with an uneasy feeling I couldn’t ignore. The snowsports industry and media have a long history of objectifying women for commercial gain. Every time I’ve been asked to do one of these shoots, I insist on being photographed fully clothed and even better, skiing. That said, if a woman wants to take her clothes off and be photographed, she should. But it should be because she wants to, for herself, and hopefully for her profit, not for someone else’s. For the shoot, I spoke up and expressed my concerns to the editor and photographer. I told them I was ok to shoot some shots in the lodge booting up (fully clothed), but that I wanted to make sure we got some shots on the mountain. I also asked for oversight in the final edit of the photos and the captions so readers would learn more about my story. It would have been easy for the photographer and editor to write me off as too difficult or tough to work with and find someone else, but they stuck with me. After the online gallery ran, the photo was submitted to Powder where it was chosen for this cover and won photo of the year. I love this photo because it celebrates a powerful femininity. I stuck to my guns, we nailed the action shot and it catapulted my career to the next level. I learned to trust my intuition and speak up. My aim in sharing this story is to tell up and coming female skiers that they don’t need to take their clothes off to make a name for themselves in the ski industry. And that strong men support strong men. When we listen and collaborate, we go far. PS: today is the last day to vote in the powder awards! Link in profile. ️
One of the highlights of my season last year was skiing the dome on Mt Superior. It’s this steep, rock ramp on one of my favorite mountains in the Wasatch. This particular feature rarely comes in to condition for skiing. Despite the lean snow year last season, the conditions lined up after a spring storm left a coat of wet, sticky snow on what is normally a rocky slab. It’s a line I’ve always wanted to ski, and I was happy to have ticked it! Can’t wait for more of this! There’s still time to vote for your favorite skiers in the @powdermagazine Reader’s Poll! Check out the link in my profile. #bigmtndreams @movementskis @lekiusa @julboeyewearna @prethelmets @patagonia_snow @clifbar Photo: @acpictures
This is one of my favorite shots from our trip to Cho Oyu in the Himalayas. I love how you can see the compression of snow that creates layers of ice, formed over hundreds of years. It’s views like this that make my heart race and put a spring in my step. -We spent this past weekend doing a deep dive in editing the photos from our trip. It’s taken me a minute to go through them because the photos always pale in comparison to my memories. Climbing at these high altitudes was so challenging; taking photos and videos added another layer of complexity. Now that some time has passed, I’m getting excited about the photos again and telling the story in an upcoming slideshow! Stay tuned…Photo: @rob.lea #bigmtndreams
It’s getting to be that time of year…time to vote for your favorite skiers in the @powdermagazine #powderawards! I’m honored to be nominated with such a talented group of athletes. Head on over to the link below or in my profile to cast your vote. https://www.powder.com/powder-awards/vote/Photo: @_zeugswetter_
A little over four years ago, one of my best friends, Liz Daley (pictured here) was killed in an avalanche. I couldn’t bring myself to write about it on the actual anniversary of her death. She still visits me in my dreams and my heart aches, I miss her so much. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Liz was a talented climber, mountaineer and snowboarder. I instantly connected to her, and she gave me an vision of a woman who was strong, feminine and a natural leader. She showed me what I wanted to become. I looked up to her like a big sister, and I still find myself wondering, would she be proud of who I’ve become and what I’ve accomplished? I want to keep her memory alive and inspire other women to be leaders in the mountains and live their dreams the way she inspired me.To celebrate and remember Liz, the @americanalpine and Jones Snowboards are offering a snowboarding-specific grant to encourage women to pursue human-powered exploration of the winter wilderness. The application period for the grant is open unitl November 30, 2018. Apply online via the link below or in my profile: https://theamericanalpineclub.formstack.com/forms/jones_adventure_grants_18
We have just enough snow at a few higher elevation locations in the Wasatch to make some turns, and I couldn’t be more delighted. Throughout the years, my relationship with skiing and the mountain has evolved and grown. I am always looking for a new challenge, and I want to keep learning. I like to let the mountains speak to me and follow what sets a spark in my heart. Going from being a weekend warrior to a dedicated resort and powder skier, to a backcountry skier to a ski mountaineer isn’t something that happened overnight. It’s taken me many years (I’m older than I look) of patience and growth!As I’ve delved deeper into the world of ski mountaineering, I've become more fascinated with skimo racing. It's a small niche of the sport where you go up and down the mountain as quickly as possible. It's funny to me that this is something I would be excited about because I do not come from a competitive background in any sport. But it's so fun and exhilarating! And I love the community of people! And there's something about the mindless repetition of training that is therapeutic and healing. Going up and down the mountain over and over, by myself or with others gives me time to process emotions. It appeases my inner perfectionist, and I aim for efficiency with every step, transition and turn. I don't know exactly where this journey will take me this season, but sometimes, it's ok to not know and keep going in the direction of what makes your heart sing. @lekiusa @movementskis @julboeyewearna Photos from a 9k Saturday training.day with @dr.hoffbank @jenhudak and many others.
I first met Shelma Jun (@shelmatic, founder of @heyflashfoxy) in Washington DC a few years ago. We had just finished two intense days of lobbying for public lands on Capitol Hill, and it was time to play. On a subway ride to the climbing gym, I expressed to Shelma my delight at how many different groups of people were represented in our lobbying group–especially women. She said something in response that has always stuck with me. Sure, there were people of color and women. But none of them were in positions of leadership. Before we give ourselves too much of a pat on the back, we need to look at who’s at the top.It’s not enough to have women and people from marginalized groups at the table. We need them in positions of leadership. Until then, we have our work cut out for us. I’m excited that there will be more diversity in Congress after the midterm elections. Yet we still have a long way to go to achieve gender parity in government. The same is true in the outdoor industry. Shelma is leading the way as the founder of Flash Foxy. Flash Foxy began as an online platform to celebrate women climbing with women and to be a place where women could come to feel inspired by and connected to each other. Now, she continues to bring women climbers together through a variety of events across the country. She’s an outspoken advocate for creating an inclusive climbing community where everyone can free to be who they are.I highly recommend following Shelma – @shelmatic and @heyflashfoxy. Photos by @Francois lebeau and @_drew_smith_#MountainsAreForEveryone
I ️ clean air, snowy winters, and protected public lands. Those are a few of the reasons I’m motivated to vote and participate in democracy as a citizen activist. Kudos to everyone who’s voted or has committed to voting tomorrow! I receive a lot of criticism when I speak up about environmental and social issues. And my philosophy is not to let perfect get in the way of good. You can sit on the sidelines and complain, or you can do things to make the world a better place. I like to do things.If you live in the Salt Lake City area, @healutah is having their fall party on November 8, and I highly encourage you to attend. I first learned about @healutah’s work when I was in high school after reading “Canaries On the Rim” and I’ve been big supporter ever since. Through their lobbying nights and other events, I’ve learned how to become an effective citizen activist. Follow their page and check out the link below and in my profile for tickets to their fall party:http://healutah.org/fallparty2018Photo: the talented @jo_savagephotography
I went to visit one of my favorite peaks in the Wasatch this weekend. I love those days where you get to spend the entire day on the trail. It feels so indulgent. I also broke 400,000 vertical feet of uphill for the year. And I took a good look around the mountains to see where the snow is lingering in the high alpine. I like to take a lot of photos and memorize where the snow is sticking this time of year, because any where there is snow is a possible starting zone for avalanches when we get more snow on top if it. It’s a good reminder to make sure to brush up on avalanche skills. Consider signing up for a class if you haven’t taken one in awhile. Check out avalanche.org and go to the “learn” tab, or head to your local avalanche center’s website for more options. Photo: @rob.leaPS have you voted yet?
There are few things I love more in life than climbing up a snowy mountain to ski down. I want to ensure future generations can have the same experiences. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀On Cho Oyu, I was surprised that we didn’t reach the snow line until 21,000 ft/6,400 m. As a citizen of the earth, I am concerned about climate change. Glaciers are receding at unprecedented rates. In my home state of Utah, more snow is falling as rain, and the ski season is getting shorter. I worry about more than my favorite pastime; I worry about the effects of rising sea levels, powerful hurricanes and access to drinking water (that comes from snow and glaciers). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀It is imperative that we vote for folks who will take action on climate. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀To help inform your voting decisions, check out the @pow_action_fund #VoterGuideBook via the link below or in my profile: https://powaf.civicengine.com/
Theres nothing quite like losing your ability to breathe to make you appreciate your lungs. This photo was taken right before I went on supplemental oxygen on Cho Oyu. I was so sick-maybe as sick as I’ve ever been. I knew I needed to descend to a lower altitude yet I was terrified that I wouldn’t even be able to walk myself down. I had no energy. At that point, I didn’t even care about the summit. I was in so much pain, all I wanted was to descend (I wanted my mommy), and as I fell in and out of periods of sleep, I kept dreaming about going home. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀After I got down to base camp and started recovering, I kept going over the details of how I got sick and where I went wrong. It went beyond learning from a mistake; I was dwelling on it, and wasting precious energy I could be using to recover. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀I came to learn, it doesn’t matter how you got knocked down. It’s how you get back up. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m grateful I had such an awesome team to take care of me and help advise me. I thought I was going home-I’m glad they helped me see recovery was possible. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀There will always be setbacks. It’s how you handle them that matters. You can give in to the overwhelming sense of hopelessness or you can rise up, stay positive and get back out there. Maybe it won’t happen right away-it might be years-but if you stay focused on the goal and play a long term game, it will happen.
We get by with a little help from our friends. One of my favorite parts of my Cho Oyu trip was seeing the yaks. The Himalayan yaks are impressive creatives. Both male and female yaks have horns. They grunt instead of moo. They are skillful mountain climbers and can navigate long stretches of talus at extremely high altitudes. As I start training for a new set of goals in the mountains, the yak will continue to serve as my inspiration. When it gets hard, channel your inner yak.
Follow your heart and take a stand on something that matters to you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀As I was putting together a slideshow about activism and adventure last week, I thought a lot about how I built my career and found my voice to speak up about climate change, public lands, gender equality and other issues. There were a lot of missteps along the way, places when I doubted myself and took a wrong turn. I didn’t always believe I could build a career as a ski mountaineer, much less, to merge that with the type of activism I wanted to do. I spent much of my early 20s doubting what I was doing, worrying that I should be getting my MBA or JD or some other combination of letters behind my name so I could make a difference in the world. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀But the pull of the mountains was too great, and when I’m climbing up to ski down a mountain, I know this is what I’m meant to do. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell her to trust her intuition and follow her heart to the mountains. Because when you’re acting out of love, you will bring positivity to whatever you touch in the world. Being able to merge sport and environmental activism is a lifelong dream come true. Trust yourself and keep using your voice, even when it’s just a whisper. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Photo: camp 1 (21,000ft/6,400m) on Cho Oyu en route the summit. Captured by @rob.lea
This is my friend @katieboue. She is one of the most tireless advocates for our outdoor spaces that I know. It was her birthday this week, and all she wants is for people to pledge to #VoteTheOutdoors. @outdoorindustry has developed a Voter’s Guide to help you pick the best politicians to protect public lands – accessed via the link in my profile. I pledge to vote the outdoors, do you? Let’s make Katie’s birthday wishes come true.
As I was preparing for Cho Oyu, I was filled with inspiration when I heard the news that Hanifa Yousoufi became the first female Afghan climber to summit Mount Noshaq, Afghanistan’s tallest peak (7500m/24,580’). The story became even more personal when I found out my friend, mountain guide @emiliedrinkwater, helped support Hanifa in reaching her goal.From Emilie: “It takes determination and strength of character to rise above war, oppression, and Taliban influence to turn yourself into a climber and become the first Afghan woman to reach the summit of the country’s highest peak, Mt Noshaq. Our small, multi-national team was there to support Hanifa Yousoufi during this historic climb, and while this was one of the harder more dangerous things I’ve ever done, I’d trade it for nothing. I left Kabul amid rocket attacks and increasing instability. I’m lucky that I can leave (despite a love and fascination with this country) but for Hanifa and all my Afghan friends, know that I’m thinking of you and hoping for great security (and more climbing!) in your future.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀When I talked to Emilie about why Hanifa wanted to climb the highest peak, she said it was because that’s where she felt most free. It’s something that every outdoors person can relate to. That is why I feel so strongly that we need to make the outdoors more inclusive so everyone has the opportunity to feel that sense of freedom. #MountainsAreForEveryone Happy belated #DayOfTheGirlPhotos by Emilie Drinkwater and Vibs Sefland.
The truth is, I miss being on Cho Oyu, on my first Himalayan expedition, terribly. The first week of being home has been a challenge. When I’m climbing and skiing a big mountain, I love the focus and clarity I have. At home, I get easily overwhelmed and feel pulled in a million directions. It’s easy to talk about the highs, the proposal, the engagement, the summit! But it isn’t easy to talk about the lows, the big stack of medical bills to pay, the IRS deadline coming up, the slideshow prep, the big feeling of emptiness, of questioning, of rest and recovery. Post expedition/vacation depression is real. So today, for #worldmentalhealthday, let’s continue to break the stigma of talking about mental health. I think a lot of us in the outdoor community struggle with these issues a lot more than we let on, and by coming together and sharing openly and honestly, we can normalize these feelings and create a more resilient and happy community going forward. Sending love to all of you.
Yesterday was Indigenous People’s Day. I know, I’m a day late (my brain is still catching up from my big trip). I wanted to take a moment to highlight some people and organizations who are showing us that Indigenous People are here, and as the original stewards of the land, have a lot to teach us about stewardship and conservation. We must listen to Native voices to create a more resilient environmental movement. I recommend following: @lennecefer @nativesoutdoors @indigenouswomenhike @mmiwhoismissing @nativewomenswilderness and @native_women_running for starters. Photo 1: navajo_in_flight on a classic climbing route on Mt. Lemmon, captured by @lennecefer. Photo 2: @brodyleven and Len on Blanca Peak. Photo 3: Len and I on a hike up Grandeur Peak. I will work on researching what tribal land I am on and try to incorporate more Native mountain names into my future posts!#MountainsAreForEveryone
Skiing Cho Oyu was a dream come true. From the summit, I was about to ski about 80% of the route to camp 1. Around 7500m, I had scouted an alternate route to ski through the yellow band, however, due to avalanche concerns from wind loading that morning, I ended up rappelling the route we ascended instead. Then, I was able to open it up and make smooth turns all the way to camp 2. Below camp 2, some fog rolled in, and I did several more rappels through the icefall. After it cleared, it was smooth skiing until camp 1. I wanted to give a shoutout to @melissaarnot who generously let me borrow her women’s size small 8k m suit for summit day, and to @patagonia, and their “better than new” worn wear philosophy (reducing consumption by using products that already exist). @rob.lea and I were both able to find gently used 8k meter suits (thanks Alan) and it saved us a chunk of change. While it was an expensive expedition that we paid for (almost entirely) out of pocket, I will never regret spending some of our savings on this trip. We made some of our happiest memories and it was an experience we will never forget. #MountainsAreForEveryone #adventuredoneright @alpenglowexpeditions
He said yes at 26,906 ft./ 8201m on the summit of Cho Oyu! I knew you were husband material before this trip, but sharing this expedition sealed the deal. @rob.lea you are so patient and kind, especially when you took care of me when I got sick, never complaining about the possibility of abandoning your summit attempt to make sure I was ok. I knew you were a keeper when you emptied my pee bottle and carried down the wag bag we shared. Sharing a month long expedition with your significant other is one of the most intimate experiences. There are highs and lows, and you get to see a person’s true colors. Rob, I’m so happy for our journey ahead!
Tomorrow, we are leaving for our summit bid on Cho Oyu! We had a successful rotation sleeping at camp 1, and getting our first ski turns above 21,000’ /6,400m. After two days rest, we are nervously excited. We will spent a night at c1, a night at c2, and we plan to summit and ski on Sept. 28! @rob.lea and I are feeling ok, and are stoked for what’s ahead. #MountainsAreForEveryone #AdventureDoneRight
Yesterday, I made it to camp 1 at 21,000/6,400m! We touched camp 1 and went back to abc to sleep. Tomorrow, we will head up to sleep at camp 1 and then go higher to prepare for the summit attempt. One week ago, there was no way I imagined I would be back up on the mountain, especially not at these altitudes. I was so sick, all I could think about was going home. Sometimes, those setbacks along the way make the accomplishments even sweeter. There is no such thing as an easy 8000m peak. I’m taking it one day at a time and breaking it into manageable pieces, but hot damn, I am so grateful to be here, surrounded by the most stunning mountains and glaciers I’ve ever seen. #MountainsAreForEveryone #chofosho
Someone I have always been inspired by is fellow @clifbar ambassador @hilareenelson. Right now, she and @jimwmorrison and team are on a neighboring peak, Lhotse, to ski one of the most beautiful unskied couloirs in the world. Follow them on their journey through their handles or hashtag #lhotseski18.Before I went on my first high altitude ski mountaineering trip five years ago, I asked Hilaree about her favorite things to eat at altitude. She told me, @clifbar gels and Pringles. I took her advice and climbed and skied my first 6000m peak. I love gels because they are easy to consume at altitude when you are not producing much saliva, and the sugars are easily absorbed. Thanks for the tip Hilaree! Photo: @nickkalisz
Back up at advanced base camp! If we feel good tomorrow, we might go to touch camp 1. This trip has been one of the most physically and mentally challenging trips of my life. And that’s why we chose it. Thanks for all the kind words and supportive comments. I’m glad to be feeling ok again. #MountainsAreForEveryone #chofosho @keen #keenambassador Photo: @rob.lea
After four days at advanced base camp, my cough got worse and worse. I was losing strength. It became difficult to do simple tasks like walk to the bathroom. I almost stopped peeing all together. My oxygen saturation was low, and after a really rough night, we knew it was time for me to descend. I was so weak, @rob.lea did all the packing while @solitude66 and @topomena organized logistics, and I went on supplemental oxygen. I felt so embarrassed walking out of camp, but sometimes you have to hold your head up high and let go of your pride. We are only human. I even made up an alter ego for my oxygen mask face: baby Darth Vader. It helped me feel more badass in that low moment, and gave me strength for the hike back down to basecamp. When I got down, @adrianballinger reminded me that sometimes, altitude sickness just happens. It has nothing to do with fitness, preparation or experience. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself during this time. I’ve been resting now for a few days at basecamp. Tomorrow, I’m going to go back up to abc. I’m a little scared from what happened, but I’m going to give it another go and take it one step at a time. Huge thanks to Rob and the team for taking such good care of me while I was sick!
Expectations are not always a good thing to have, especially when climbing a big mountain. I came here to the Himalayas to find a challenge, and I am finding it. Adjusting to life at advanced base camp on Cho Oyu at 18,500’/5700m has been extremely difficult for me. I had an expectation that I would perform well on this trip, but I am feeling poorly, with headaches, nausea and a hacking cough. It’s a good reminder to take it one moment at time and not get discouraged. Part of the team went to camp 1 today and I stayed at advanced base camp to rest. Luckily, I am surrounded by a supportive team from @alpenglowexpeditions and we are taking good care of each other. Hopefully my condition will continue to improve with another day or two of rest! #adventuredoneright #chofosho
Heading to Cho Oyu basecamp today (16,400 ft./5000m). For this trip, I wanted to push myself to bring a different narrative to how we approach mountaineering and use this expedition as an opportunity to talk about inclusivity and allyship. As I’ve grown as an activist, I’ve come to realize that social and environmental issues are related, and that how we treat people is how we treat the planet. I feel it’s more important than ever to speak up about inclusivity and diversity to create a more resilient environmental movement. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting friends I’ve met who have challenged my point of view, helped me grow and who are evolving our perceptions of who belongs in the mountains. Stay tuned for more… #MountainsAreForEveryone
Potola Palace, Lhasa, Tibet. 11,995’/3650m. Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world and the holy center of Tibetan Buddhism. Visiting the Potala Palace will go down as one of my top life experiences. Tibet is a place that few Westerners are able to visit. Every moment, I am filled with gratitude to be here, happy and healthy. Walking up and down all the stairs, I am thankful for the nights spent in the @hypoxico tent. Morale is high as we make our way through the Tibetan highlands into the Himalayas and to Cho Oyu base camp over the next few days. My intention for this time is to savor each moment and share as many smiles with the people I meet as possible. @KEEN #keenambassador
After what felt like a marathon day of travel, we made it to Chengdu, China (a city home to around 14 million people, and the capitol of the Sichuan Province), had a little sleep and are awaiting our departure to Lhasa. There are few experiences in life as deeply uncomfortable as being an exhausted foreigner arriving in a country where you do not speak the language. Thank goodness for google translate and for the fine logistical support from @alpenglowexpeditions. There were some minor snafus along the way, but nothing major and morale is high after a few hours at an airport hotel. I’ve done some international trips alone and it’s a different beast (especially with ski luggage). I’m so grateful to have @rob.lea as a travel companion. When Rob and I first met four years ago, I never imagined that we would go on a trip like this together. At that point, I had written off trying to find a life partner who was also a mountaineering partner. I wanted someone who was solid at home- that I could depend on to pick me up at the airport and cook me good meals. It turns out, Rob ticked those boxes and he is a crusher in the mountains. I learned an important lesson- that sometimes, when you stop searching, it’s easier to find what you are looking for. Onward we go. I’m sure there will be many more hiccups along the way, and I’ll continue to be glad to have someone who is so patient and kind and who makes me laugh when I cry, by my side.
Packing day. Tomorrow, we depart. I am nervous and excited for the big challenge ahead. I can’t believe we are so close…Honestly, I tend to get pretty bad pre-trip anxiety. To help ease the stress in my mind, I try to make a mantra and visualization. I try not to get too wrapped up in the worry of the future and just focus on one step at a time. For my mantra on this trip, I’m thinking about all of you- the army of support I have- and how that support will propel me up the mountain. I want to show that mountaineering doesn’t need to be elitist- that #MountainsAreForEveryone. That you don’t need to grow up climbing or skiing competitively. You can figure it out and it’s never too late. I’ll do my best to keep you updated along the way! Thanks for all the support and encouragement. Can’t wait to meet the rest of the team from @alpenglowexpeditions! @KEEN #KEENambassador @clifbar #feedyouradventure Photo: @rob.lea
There are steps we can take every day to be more environmentally friendly. One of the ways I try to lighten my impact on the environment is by prioritizing human-powered recreation, choosing to hike or climb up the mountain as much as possible. It’s about action over apathy and supporting people and organizations who do the same. It’s pretty next level for @AlaskaAir to talk about their commitment to reduce waste by removing straws on each of their flights. What are you doing to lighten your footprint on the planet? Share using the hashtag #StrawlessSkies for a chance to win two Alaska Air vouchers to anywhere Alaska air flies. #sponNo one is perfect, and every human has an impact, but I believe in doing the best we can every day.
Five years ago, I went on my first high altitude ski mountaineering trip to Ecuador to climb and ski the three highest peaks in the country. This picture was taken on the summit plateau of Chimborazo (20,549’/6263m) which is the highest I’ve ever been. It was a challenging summit day, as the mountain was covered in head high penitentes. These ice structures are gnarly to walk through, and it made our time above 20,000’ much more strenuous. I remember how fatiguing it was to do any little thing. It was even hard to talk without getting winded. To prepare for Cho Oyu, I’ve spent the last six weeks sleeping at progressively higher elevations in a @hypoxico altitude training tent. We’ve been sleeping over 17,000’/5181m for the past few nights, all in the comfort of our own home. I’m gratitude for the opportunity to get a head start on acclimatization and I’m eager to see how the tent training pays off. Fingers crossed we have better skiing conditions than this. Despite the snow on Chimborazo, climbing and skiing the snow capped volcanoes in Ecuador was one of my favorite trips of my lifetime. I highly recommend it. #tbt #MountainsAreForEveryone
For many years, I’ve had the dream of taking my ski mountaineering to the Himalayas. Along the way, many people have told me my dreams are impossible and crazy. Yet there are a handful of people who have believed in me, supported me and said let’s figure out how to get you up and down that mountain. One of those people is @adrianballinger. He is one of the most accomplished high altitude ski mountaineers and the founder of @alpenglowexpeditions. He has given me so much beta over the years (for example, spending hours on the phone with me going over logistics before I went to the Cordillera Blanca in Peru- pictured here). When others said I was crazy, he said go for it. Adrian never judged my ability as a ski mountaineer by my size, gender or appearance. I was inspired by his rapid ascent of Cho Oyu with @emilyaharrington a few years ago, their attempt on Makalu and I’m so stoked for the opportunity to go to the Himalayas (in a few days!) with the team from Alpenglow expeditions. Someday, I’ll get to make turns with Emily and Adrian. Until then, be like Adrian and believe in people and their dreams, even if they challenge your perceptions. #AdventureDoneRight #MountainsAreForEveryone #bigmtndreams Photo: @rob.lea
Eating locally produced (and organic) food is one thing I prioritize to lighten my impact on the environment. It’s not only better for the planet, it tastes better too. .A few years ago, one of my big summer projects was to convert my lawn backyard into this garden pictured here. I figured if I was using water, it might as well go to growing food. Ripping up the sod, building the planter boxes, tilling the soil, spreading the compost and mulch and planting the garden was like climbing a huge mountain in the physical effort it took. But once I ate the first cherry tomato from the vine, it was all worth it. .I’m inspired by @AlaskaAir and their commitment to reduce their environmental impact by going straw-less on all their flights. For a chance to win two Alaska Air flight vouchers to a destination of your choosing, post what you are doing to lessen your impact on the planet and tag #StrawlessSkies. #iFlyAlaska #spon.I know planting a garden isn’t going to solve the world’s environmental problems but it was my way of doing my part. Going strawless or planting a garden are two examples of actions we can take to be more responsible inhabitants of the planet.
I don’t think of mountains as something to be conquered. I’m not out to conquer or defeat the places I explore. I don’t think that reaching the summit of a peak makes me superior.Talk about conquering mountains also shows a lack of respect for indigenous cultures, who have stewarded these landscapes for centuries, who view these peaks as sacred (for example, it is disrespectful to stand directly on the summit of Aoraki/Mt. Cook, Land of Ngāi Tahu.) For centuries, people who look like me have shown up in wild places and said, “This belongs to me.” I want to do better. I’m not interested in conquering landscapes. I’m interested in a more intimate relationship, immersing myself, learning from a new place and doing my best to leave it better than I found it. I wanted to give a shoutout to my friends Len and Shelma who have helped me think about this in a different way. If you want to learn from them too, follow them at @nativesoutdoors and @heyflashfoxy #MountainsAreForEveryone Photo: @crossroadstudios