#KeepGrizzlyWild Today, I’m spoke at a Central Wasatch Commission meeting about a new bill to designate a national conservation and recreation area in my home range, the Wasatch. As there are more and more demands on this small and very special mountain range, I believe it’s important that we continue to speak up to protect the human-powered backcountry experience. I’m especially concerned about maintaining the balance between ski resorts and backcountry. One area in particular that we need to protect is Grizzly Gulch. I’d love to hear your stories of adventure in Grizzly! Tag @wasatchbackcountryalliance and #KeepGrizzlyWildPhoto: @brentbensonphotography

#FamiliesBelongTogether. There are few things in life that bring me more joy than being an aunt to my nieces and nephews. When I’m with them, time slows down. Auntieland is like another, kinder world. And when I’m away from them, I miss them in the deep, heart-aching sort of way. I’m not a mother now, and I’m not sure if I’ll be one in the future, but family means everything to me. And that’s why I’m so disturbed by the fact that over 2,000 children have been separated from their families in the past six weeks. This is not who we are. This is happening to people who are attempting to enter the country at ports of entry and in between. We must urge Congress and the President to end this cruel policy of tearing apart immigrant families. This has been keeping me up at night and I had to do something about it. Today, I donated to the @aclu_nationwide to continue their work on this cause. I will be in touch with my elected officials. Let’s continue to speak out loud and clear that this is wrong and we won’t tolerate it. Thanks for the inspiration for this post, @brooke.froelich

Action alert: Today is the last day to submit comments to oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge in Alaska. It’s one of the last wild places in America (pictured here with @kitdski and @hilareenelson). Visit the link below or in my profile to protect this important place. https://p2a.co/ZFqUlaJPhoto: @jxnfigs

Cross-training. I’m excited for the opportunity to race the Crusher in the Tushar in less than a month with @binghamcyclery on my new @iamspecialized_adv Diverge. It’s nice to have a bike I can take from tarmac to single track and everything in between.

This is one of my favorite pictures from my childhood. Now that I’m older, I have no idea how my parents handled traveling with all of us kids. I’m grateful for all the lessons my dad has taught me over the years- how to be a good traveler, how to be a happy camper, how to have a sense of adventure and to always stay curious and ask questions. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Love you dad!

Turning #bigmtndreams into specific mountain goals. Currently, I’m training to run a 40 mile/64 km trail race at the end of June (my first ultramarathon), compete in a 70 mile/112 km bike race mid-July and climb and ski Cho Oyu, the sixth highest peak in the world in September. I’m nervous to even write about these goals because I’m scared I might not succeed. But sometimes you’ve gotta try something ambitious and take it one day at a time, keeping in mind there are lessons in failure as well. It’s a lot to train for and it’s been challenging to manage the training load. •#bigmtndreams is my bigger vision of giving myself the tools to ascend peaks around the world by skis, foot or bike and test my limits of endurance. It’s bigger than a yearly project. It’s a lifelong journey to keep growing my skill set and evolving as an athlete. I like to pick challenges that push me out of my comfort zone so I can approach the mountains through the eyes of a student. There’s always something new to learn! •Thanks for following along and for your support and encouragement along the way. I’m excited to share the upcoming adventures with you. Photo: @rob.lea @keen #keenambassador @lekiusa

It isn’t easy to talk about depression. Last spring, I went through a particularly difficult time. I had just broken up with my partner (we got back together a few months later) and I have never felt more sad and alone. I’m lucky and grateful my friends @spicinguplife and @katieboue were available to spend time with me. One day after the breakup, we hopped into Iris’s awesome van and drove south through Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase and eventually to the Grand Canyon to run a half marathon. Being in the car for all those hours was miserable, for me and for them. I couldn’t stop crying. But I wasn’t alone. They sat with me through my pain and sorrow, never telling me to stop crying even though I’m sure that’s all they wanted. They showed up and stayed with me. It made all the difference. For that, I’m eternally grateful. Sometimes I feel like our society only wants to see us when we’re happy and energetic. I hope that sharing this story will help break the stigma of talking about depression. Life isn’t all smiles and rainbows. Sometimes it sucks. It’s ok to be a downer. The road trip didn’t cure me and magically make everything better, but it put me on the path to recovery. It’s a journey that we’re all in together. Be the kind of person who loves someone when they are at their best and their very worst. Sometimes knowing that you’re not alone can make all the difference. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need help at different points in our lives. Much love to all of you. ️️️

I’m grateful to have many rad, supporting men in my life. The guy who sent me that text last fall, which I reference in my previous post, has become one of them. I want to give him anonymous kudos for contacting me directly and for the positive efforts he’s made by standing up for me and talking to me openly.•That is the ultimate outcome I seek in calling out misogyny and sexism – not just to call it out, but to listen, learn and grow. I am proud of my friend for growing from this experience, and it makes me hopeful for future progress across the snow community. Some of the comments on my post disappointed me because they did more to hurt my colleague than to facilitate positive growth. We are all in this together.•When I talk about toxic masculinity, I’m not talking about men. Women often adopt the norms of masculinity in order to succeed in male-dominated workplaces. We all need to confront our biases and call ourselves out when we make mistakes. This isn’t a battle of the sexes. The mountains are for everyone.•Photo: scrambling in the Canadian Rockies with two rad men, @rob.lea and @lucas_really and the strong and feminine @alpinewithv in the middle.

Stoked to be at @mountainfilm for the next few days! If you’re in Telluride, come see my documentary with @rei and @ducttapethenbeer, Follow Through. It’s playing tonight (Friday) at 9:15pm at Off-Width and Sunday 4pm at High Camp. I’ll be speaking on a panel about re-evaluating risk on Saturday 5pm at Liberty Bar, leading a hike on Sunday at 10am (meet at Courthouse steps) and speaking on Monday at 8am at Hotel Telluride (topic: restorative power of wilderness). Can’t wait to say hi to old friends and new. Whew! Photo: all smiles after skiing through the crux of the Great White Icicle.

Addressing Rumors

This week, I’m in Telluride, CO for Mountainfilm. I’m incredibly honored that my short film, Follow Through, will be showing at the film festival. I’ve always wanted to tell my story and I’m proud at how my film turned out. Yet even with all the success of the film, I’m shocked that I still have to address rumors and heavy criticism that undermines my competency in the mountains.

This fall, the week before the film was released, I received a text message from another prominent ski mountaineer in the Wasatch. It said, “Hi Caroline! Top of the morning. Bunch of folks hitting me up about you and The Chuting Gallery project. Quick question, did you pay or trade to be guided on some of those lines? Got some guiding buddies that say so and it looked that way from some of the post. Just thought I’d ask and know instead of listening to rumors.”

It was hard for me to even read the message. I could feel the anger and tension rising, my heart rate quickening. I’ve spent over a decade honing my steep skiing skills, and I spent half a decade working on the project, equipping myself with the technical tools to be a confident leader on rock, snow and ice. During the project, I wore a lot of hats, not only deciding when to ski each line and how to do it, but also coordinating with ski partners, videographers, the production team and sponsors. I worked in a team, yes, but I was the leader—because it was my project. This ski mountaineer’s assumption otherwise was deeply insulting.

I took some deep breaths and typed a response. “I skied a handful of the lines with friends who are guides but they were with me as partners, not guides, and were not paid or traded. We did use a paid guide one day to help with some of the rigging for the videographer.”

On the single line where we did have a guide help with the rigging for the film team the guide initially put the rope up, I followed. And then I re-led the pitch. Every pitch of ice and rock, I led. I might add that it’s standard practice for mountain guides to run safety on ski films. This was not a typical ski film and I was in charge of my own safety and risk management.

In one way, I’m grateful that this man texted me to set the record straight. But frankly, I’m frustrated that I even have to address these rumors about “guiding buddies”, rumors that are simply a way to invalidate my accomplishments in the mountains.

The misogyny and sexism in the Wasatch backcountry and ski mountaineering community is real. I’m sick of it.

But I will not be defeated.

Before I met my friend Liz Daley in 2012, I had no idea that mountain guiding was even a profession. I didn’t know about the American Mountain Guides Association and the process to get certified. Liz opened my eyes to this world. Skiing with her, I learned about the amazing skills that mountain guides possess. I loved being with her in the mountains as an equal partner. And I wanted to find more friends who had her same level of technical expertise.

I realize that ski mountaineering is one of the most dangerous sports you can undertake, so I want to do everything to stack the odds in my favor. I also want to keep growing my knowledge base. I’ve taken courses in Avalanche Level 1, 2 and 3; Rock Rescue Level 1 and 2; and Ice Rescue; have a Wilderness First Responder certification; and do regular crevasse rescue refreshers.

I also make a conscientious effort to recruit partners who take their technical training as seriously as I do. Why wouldn’t you do everything you can to stack the odds in your favor?

On another international trip, I hired a local guide to help us with some of the trip logistics. Because of the difficulty of the ski line I was attempting, I had to clarify, in writing, that the guide was joining us as a climber/skier, not as a guide, and we were each individually responsible for our decisions to continue or not. She was compensated a modest fee for her time in pre-trip logistical organization. She did join us on the mountain, and since that trip, has become a good friend and mountain partner. Again, international ski mountaineering expeditions are dangerous. Why not equip yourself with information from a local guide to help set you up for success?

I wish I didn’t have to write this statement, to address these lies that people are spreading. They don’t just frustrate me, or hurt my feelings; they hurt my career. Last winter, when I took my Avalanche 3 course, one of the pieces of feedback I received was: “If you want to make the transition from pro skier to mountain guide, stop hiring guides and traveling with others that make decisions for you, put yourself in situations where you are required to put it all together, apply these skills and observations and form your own opinion everyday, don’t just regurgitate the opinions of others.” I have no idea where the evaluator got the idea that I was skiing as a guided client. These lies had become so pervasive that they were part of the reason I didn’t pass the course, and they are simply untrue.

When I wrote about this encounter with bias, a woman sent me a note sharing a similar story. She had received equally unprofessional and unhelpful feedback from an instructor during an exam. She said, “Your implicit bias post is a big part of the reason I stopped guiding.” My situation is far from unique.

The reason I’m writing this is because I want to get to a place where women’s accomplishments can be accepted and celebrated without bias. I want female mountaineers to get the same recognition and credit as their male counterparts. The way these local guides have fabricated a story about the style in which I climbed and skied the lines in The Chuting Gallery illustrates the kind of toxic masculinity that runs rampant in our culture.

This habitual sexism is part of the reason that only 10% of mountain guides are female, and why fewer than 25% of sponsored snowsports athletes for major outerwear brands (TNF, Helly Hansen, Arcteryx and Patagonia) are female, despite the fact that over 40% of skiers are female.

Also, while I’m speaking about statistics, it’s worth noting that 85% of snowsports fatalities are male in their late teens to late 30s (70%). This is the demographic that on a broader level, engages in high-risk behavior and suffers the majority of unintentional death from injury.

We need more female representation, especially in dangerous sports like mountaineering. It’s not enough to get women outside. We need women to get to the highest levels. At every turn in my career, I’ve battled sexism and harassment. I will not back down and disappear, giving in to the belief that I don’t belong. I will not distance myself from the world of ski mountaineering that I love so much. I will continue to show up and speak up.

In order to change the tides, I believe we need to do two things to start. First of all, the local mountain guiding company needs to consider putting their guides through implicit bias training to understand how to create an inclusive culture that doesn’t automatically de-value women’s skill. It will be a huge benefit to their company.

And my call to action to you, the reader, is to examine your own implicit bias and preferences. This isn’t a battle of the sexes. As a society, we are so habituated to sexism that women are often biased against other women.

Do the stories you tell discredit the efforts and achievements of women in the wordplace and/or in the mountains? Are you part of the problem?

When you hear someone saying sometimes to diminish another person, do you call them out on it?

Use your words carefully, and remember the adage, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

 

Power hiking season. Last week, I logged thirty glorious miles on the trails. I’m excited to continue getting my legs in summer shape (it’s harder when you can’t ski down)…@keen #keenambassador Photo: @acpictures

Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG) Race Recap

It has been called the most difficult team’s race in the world. The Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG) covers over 13,000’ (4000m) of ascent and 36 miles (58 km) through technical, glaciated, alpine terrain, organized by the Swiss military as a training exercise to make sure soldiers are prepared to patrol the mountainous borders of the country.

What did I get myself into?

We were heading into the coldest, darkest part of the night as we approached the top of the first climb. My hands and feet were starting to lose feeling. It was hard to tell the difference between the trail of headlamps up the mountain and the bright stars, under a new moon and dark, night sky. The climb was relentless. We had been going for four hours, ten miles (16k) and almost 7,000’ (2133m) and I was huffing and puffing as we approached 12,000’ (3657m). My team and I were roped together navigating the course and I was grateful to be close. We were on skis with skins and it was steep and icy. Just when I thought we were topping out, there was another false summit, and I had to dig deep to find the courage and energy to continue.

Given my track record for endurance on skis, I thought this race would be easier than it was feeling. But in the US, especially in Utah, there are very few mountains where you can climb up 7,000 continuous feet (2133m) without stopping. I was fit as a fiddle by Wasatch standards, but the Swiss Alps represented a whole new challenge.

Finally, we topped out and were greeted by soldiers and some of our friends from the Swiss ski brand I am sponsored by, Movement skis, who roped me into doing this race. Our friends fed us sugary soda and candy. They helped me put my jacket on. They were volunteering to come out here in the middle of the night, to wait at the top of a cold, windy mountain at high altitude, to help us. Thinking about their sheer generosity still amazes me. Race day brings out the most radiant expressions of the human spirit – I love the random acts of kindness and the way it brings us all together.

For much of my career as a mountain athlete, I didn’t understand racing. I thought, I go to these remote places in the mountains to get away from people. Why would anyone want to do a race with so many people? I worried about the environmental impacts of races. The erosion from so much foot traffic. The carbon emissions from the helicopters that stocked the aid stations at the PDG.
But in those moments, where two random strangers climbed up a crevasse ridden glaciated mountain in the middle of the night to give us aid – food and nourishment and encouragement – I understood what it was all about. It made sense to me. That having a race that exposes people to these places gets them to be fierce advocates to protect these types of experiences. To be good stewards. And as far as the carbon goes – the Swiss military was going to burn that carbon in the helicopters to do their training exercises no matter what. Why not provide a benefit to the people and give them the experience of the race? Why not celebrate their national pride?

The PDG happens every two years and the iconic course covers parts of the Haute Route. It’s a single day event where racers start in waves in the middle of the night to avoid the dangers of avalanches and falling into crevasses that come with daytime heating in the springtime.

My background as an athlete isn’t in racing. I considered myself more of an adventure focused ski mountaineer, wanting to explore places off the beaten path that take technical expertise and endurance to reach. After doing this for several years, I was left at a decision point in my career. Do I keep pushing the boundaries of trying to ski steeper and steeper lines, where a slip or fall ends in death? Or do I find another focus? I was delighted when my ski sponsor asked me if I wanted to compete in the PDG this year. I had secretly been intrigued by skimo racing. I had never had the confidence to pursue it before. With the sponsor putting together my team and providing the equipment, I had a chance to explore a part of my sport I may have never delved into. It was a way for me keep progressing, to keep finding my edge, without taking on more and more risk.

So, I got the skinny skis. I adopted the equipment of skimo racers – the packs with quick carry, the cross country inspired poles, the lightweight, breathable helmet. And I put my mind to training all winter, logging as much vert as I could, week after week. I was focused and determined. And the PDG was my goal. I competed in a 3-day skimo race at the end of February – US Nationals – and my teammate and I took first place in the female team category, and I took second place in the combined. I felt it was good preparation for the PDG.

I was wrong. After the first climb, we had to ski 7,000 ft down in a single descent, roped together. Again, it is difficult for an American to train for a ski descent of this length because there are few places in the lower 48 where you can consistently access mountains that are this long. By the end of the first climb and descent, my legs were hurting. The skiing was steep, icy and technical. It was chaotic – our team was strongest on the downhill, so we were passing many teams. I was worried our ropes would get caught.

Once in Arolla, it was a relief. We were back at a more normal altitude and we took some time to refuel and warm up. I was relieved that the coldest parts of the course and night were over with. We were halfway done, and I thought we would breeze through the rest. I was wrong. We started climbing again, and the snow was frozen and the terrain grew steeper and steeper. People were falling on their skins all around. You had to have perfect technique. The course was relentless. Where it wasn’t steep, the terrain was rolling. Sometimes, it was unclear whether to skin or skate. My teammates spoke French as their first language and communication was difficult. Being the lone female, I felt an added pressure to perform. Spending time in Zermatt prior to the race, I felt frustrated by some of the local’s and their perceptions of me. No one believed that I was going to do the long race. In the pre-race meeting for the long race, there were very few woman (I estimate fewer than 5% of the competitors were women – more women compete in the shorter race that covers half the distance, but it’s still under 20% female). I had just met my teammates and I couldn’t help but feel like an outsider. Competing in a team of three adds an extra challenge. Two allows for more nimble teamwork. Three is a crowd and when you aren’t in sync, it can be mentally very challenging.

My boyfriend, Rob Lea, an accomplished triathlete, shared with me some of his race day wisdom. He said on a big race like this, you only have a certain number of matches. You want to be mindful when you burn a match. Being on a team of three, it was difficult to pace myself properly. I felt we went out too fast from town (the race begins in downtown Zermatt and you run in ski boots or running shoes for one mile on the cobblestone street before getting to snow-I never get blisters, but I did get blisters from running on this surface in my ski boots in the warm temps). There were times when I didn’t use my energy efficiently. And the fatigue of traveling through Europe for the 3 weeks leading up to the race didn’t help. The week of the race, I spent too much time on my feet in Zermatt. Hauling my large duffel bag to the race start was a chore. Doing this kind of race is crazy, it was even crazier to do it internationally.

As the night turned to day, I started to see a bigger picture of the race, and it was unbelieveable, how many competitors were marching up and down these huge mountains, like a line of ants. The best parts were all the spectators who came to cheer us on and the support of the soldiers at the aid stations! At every pass, and every transition, there were soldiers stationed to make sure people were ok, not too delirious or sick. When it was time to put on sunscreen, a soldier doled out the perfect amount of sunscreen into my hand. They refilled water bottles. Skimo racing is a big deal in Europe and I’m so grateful I got to experience it.

Once the sun came out, it started to get so hot. The race suit performs well in most conditions except on the extreme ends – if it’s too hot or too cold, it leaves you desiring layering options…

As we got to the Rosablanche, I started to run out of energy. I’d burned too many of my matches earlier in the race and I was out. My teammates families started to greet them at different passes and I started to get emotional that I didn’t have any family or friends there. I could feel myself starting to spiral into a dark place. I cried. I tried to rally.

Luckily, my teammates helped. They stuck with me. We worked together. The descent into Verbier was again one of the longest ski descents I’ve done. My legs were screaming. I had to focus on engaging my core. I was worried I was going to crash and tear a ligament. When we crossed the finish line, I’ve never been so relieved. I was bawling. I called my boyfriend (even though it was three am in the US) and my mom. I was in disbelief that we actually finished.

Overall, we finished the race in 12 hours and 9 minutes. There is no division for mixed gender groups. We came in 49th in the men’s division, which is a respectable time for first time finishers as a team who had met a few days prior to the race. We finished an hour later than our estimated time (tip: always over estimate your time the first time doing a race) and I felt that being at the back of our pack in the beginning was difficult for morale. There are dozens of things I learned, that I would’ve done differently or improved.

And that was the whole point. I was so far outside of my comfort zone, completely vulnerable to a new experience. I pushed myself to do something differently. And it felt I grew by leaps and bounds, mentally and physically. Growth is usually uncomfortable. The end of the race also made me intensely homesick. By being homesick, I appreciated my partner, my friends and family so much more when I was reunited with them.

A huge thank you to my team mates, Eric Gachet and Aurelien Ducroz, to my Movement skis team manager, Vincent Bardy, and to everyone else who volunteered to make the race a reality.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I’m planning to do more skimo races. But first, I am raining to run my first ultramarathon and to compete in an endurance bike race. Stay tuned…

It’s never easy to get up in the dark, but the pink light makes it all worth it! What motivates you?This photo, taken by @jaybeyerimaging, is from my first (and only) ski trip to Alaska in 2014 where we snow camped on the glacier, and hiked up all the lines we skied down. I learned a lot on that trip about risk management and decision making in remote big mountains. It’s fun to look back and see how far I’ve come! #bigmtndreams

Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely Mom! Thanks for taking me outside and teaching me how to ski (and how to pee outside). As one of few women in your graduating class from medical school, you showed me that there were no limits on what I could become. Love you! Photo: a road trip to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument last fall. @keen #keenambassador

It was an honor and a delight to #climbthehill with over sixty other athletes and advocates from @americanalpine and @accessfund. This was my sixth trip to D.C. and every time, it gets better as we build rapport with our elected officials. As people who love to be outside, we have a duty to be good stewards of the land and to create a more inclusive and diverse community. My call to action to you is to get outside, see what’s there, and keep showing up and speaking up! Huge thanks to @patagonia for supporting this event and to all the elected officials and government agencies who met with us. #AnswerWithAction

Stoked to be on Capitol Hill with the @americanalpine and @accessfund for the third annual #climbthehill! Team Utah has had a busy morning so far meeting with @repmialove, @curtisut and @senatororrinhatch about protecting the wild places in Utah that we love so much! Want to learn more? Check out the link to the toolkit below and in my profile: https://www.climbthehill.org/toolkit/

Protecting public lands is so important to me, I’m trading in my skis for a dress this week and heading to D.C. with the @americanalpine and @accessfund to #ClimbTheHill. I’m excited to meet with our elected officials to discuss the merits of the Antiquities Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Recreation Not Red-tape and share stories about outdoor adventures! Stay tuned for more updates.

Springtime is really the best time of year for ski mountaineering. Long days and stable snowpack mean you cover lots of ground. I’m torn between feeling satiated with what I accomplished this ski season (and being ok moving on to trail running) or wanting one more big adventure on the snow… It’s a good kind of indecision. #bigmtndreams Photo: @rob.lea

For too long, we have ignored men’s role in the quest to create a more inclusive society. We need men, especially those in positions of power, as allies and supporters. This isn’t a battle of the sexes. It’s about making society more free so people can be the best versions of themselves. Men can help by holding themselves accountable for their actions and calling out injustice or systems of exclusion when they see it. Bystander intervention can be as simple as saying, hey that’s inappropriate. Or telling someone to stop when they say stop and respecting a persons boundaries. On a broader level, it can be pointing out when a situation is dominated by men and suggesting to add more diversity to the mix. Diversity is the spice of life. Just like soil dies in a monoculture, diversity in society offers a more sustainable future. The reality is, I don’t want to exist in a women’s only, gender segregated world. I love the men in my life and I know how supportive and encouraging they can be. To all the guys out there, don’t ever hesitate to ask how you can support women or people from other marginalized groups. We will love you even more for it. ️️️Photo: @acpictures

From a young age, my parents instilled in me a sense of helping and serving others, especially with my job. I’ve always found a way to join my passion for athletics and environmental activism. Read more about the evolving role of the professional outdoor athlete on the @rei blog via the link below or in my profile. I’m honored to be mentioned in this story by @running_bum_ alongside @alexhonnold and @clare_gallagher_runs.Photo: @mikumerikantohttps://www.rei.com/blog/news/the-evolving-role-of-the-professional-outdoor-athlete

I believe the modern professional mountain athlete has a duty that goes beyond excelling in sport: to speak up and take a stand on issues that matter and use their influence to make the world a better place. I’m excited to join the @americanalpine and @accessfund next week in Washington DC for the second annual #climbthehill. I’ll be joining a diverse group of athletes to advocate for public lands, outdoor recreation and improved management. Photo: @rob.lea

Spring is my favorite time of year. Last week, I enjoyed some of the best corn skiing of my life, back home in the Wasatch. Photo: @westonshirey #keepwinterwild

There was a time when I used skiing as a way to escape my problems, to run away from things. Now, I use ski mountaineering as a way to work through difficult emotions and find healing. On a long day out, you can end up in a dark place. But when you come out, the light is much brighter. I go to ski now out of a place of deep love and joy. I show you this picture from the @patrouilledesglaciers_official because I want to show the truth. It’s not all smiling selfies. Sometimes there are tears under my sunglasses. I’m so grateful for I am able to do what I do.#bigmtndreams

We did it! We crossed the finish line of the @patrouilledesglaciers_official, arriving in Verbier 12 hours and 9 minutes after leaving Zermatt. The whole experience pushed me far out of my comfort zone. The international travel logistics, the language barrier, the altitude, the distance, the Swiss military organization. It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. At the end, I had to dig deep. It was an experience I will always cherish, the biggest reason being the people I got to share it with. @eric.gachet and @aurelienducroz thank you for teaming up with me for the challenge! I’m grateful to @movementskis for inviting me to participate! Pdg 2020 training starts now that I’m back home in Utah.

As someone who receives so much joy from spending time in nature, I feel I have an obligation to give back and be a voice for wild places. Let’s celebrate earth day everyday. Photo: @meg_haywoodsullivan @keen #KEENambassador

All packed and ready to go. Tonight, we start racing at 11 pm across the Swiss Alps! 53 km with 4000 m of ascent. Wish me luck!

There’s something special about being a part of a team and working towards a big objective. Today, I went out on the glacier with my @patrouilledesglaciers_official @movementskis team. @aurelienducroz and @eric.gachet are both incredible skiers and together, we practiced skiing on the rope, which is a big challenge for the race. As an American woman, I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of this international team! I’m confident now about our ability to finish the long course. The countdown continues… stay tuned.

When @movementskis asked me at the start of the season if I wanted to compete in the famous @patrouilledesglaciers_official ski mountaineering race, I instantly said yes. I spent a lot of time this season training, learning how to go faster in technical terrain. Last night was the first time meeting my teammates, @aurelienducroz and @eric.gachet. I’m a bit intimidated to race such a big course for my first time, but I’m also stoked to try something new and continue progressing my skill set in the mountains. And as an American, I’m embracing a new cultural experience! Stay tuned for more this week as we learn to work as a team and prepare to race Friday night.

It’s been an emotional journey to return to Chamonix four years after I first came here. Four years have gone and many of my heroes are dead. I’m still grieving the loss of my dear friend @liz_daley who first told me of the wonder of the mountains of Chamonix and invited me to come experience it with her. I’m grieving the loss of my youthful exuberance for ski alpinism. I’ve lost the carefree joy I could once walk through these mountains with, and instead, approach them with a different kind of humility, fully aware of the fragility of life. It’s been a heavy burden on my shoulders this week, and I’ve been in a weird day dream, thinking about what could have been. I find solace in the spirit of the community as I reconnect with old and new friends. And in walking amongst these giant mountains, feeling the wind in my face.

The past two weeks in Europe have been a dream! From Lofoten to Amsterdam to Chamonix, I’ve been loving my time in the mountains and also, the opportunity to meet with some of my European brand partners. I just finished two days of meetings at @julbo_eyewear headquarters where I learned all about the process of making high performance mountain eyewear. It’s crazy that Julbo has been in business for 130 years! And I’m so excited about a special project we are collaborating on (with @simon.charriere) that you will be hearing more about next season! Stoked! Now, back to the mountains where I will focus on preparations for the @patrouilledesglaciers_official. Photo: @rob.lea

Happy Easter everyone! Easter is a big holiday here in Norway, and many people have the week off work and go on vacation. I was surprised to hear that Easter is a longer holiday here than Christmas! (The locals tell me it’s because the skiing is better in April- and I agree.) I hope you had a joyous day! Photo: @rob.lea

My great-grandmother came from Norway. When I was growing up in southeastern Minnesota, I enjoyed eating lefse around the holidays and skiing was always a part of my family’s culture. This is my first trip to Norway and it’s already captured my heart! Three days in and I have so much love for Lofoten! #bigmtndreams Huge thanks to @patagoniaeurope for inviting me here and sharing the skintrack and fresh turns! I can’t wait to continue exploring these mountains.

Happy birthday @rob.lea. It’s nice to date a guy who can keep up! I look forward to the shared adventures ahead.

The only guns we need 🏼. I support the young people leading the #MarchForOurLives.

Happy #nationalpuppyday! I don’t own a dog of my own, but I’m a dog lover for life. I was overcome with joy when this fluffy friend came to say hi to me on the skintrack. @movementskis

Given that we are all owners of our public lands, it is really important that we go and speak up so that we shape how we are able to access these lands. In order for this to work, we all have to be active and engaged participants. See the entire video via the link in my profile and below!https://www.yourforestsyourfuture.org/yourwintersneedyou@yourforestsyourfuture @winterwildlandsalliance

Backcountry skiing in my home mountain range, the Wasatch, has added so much to my quality of life in Utah. The long walks uphill and exhilarating descents connect me to nature and offer much needed quiet time to sort through my thoughts. I feel an obligation to make sure we preserve the experience for future generations, which is why I’ve joined the @wasatchbackcountryalliance board of directors! And we want to hear from you. We’re collecting stories from people who utilize the Grizzly Gulch trailhead! Share your favorite stories using the #KeepGrizzlyWild for a chance to be featured on the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance instagram! Photo: @stasia_art

I’m excited to announce one of my big 2018 goals – competing in the famous @patrouilledesglaciers_official ski mountaineering race from Zermatt to Verbier! I leave for Europe in less than two weeks, first to Norway, then France and Switzerland! I’ve been training hard and I can’t wait to put it all together. @movementskis @julboeyewearna Photo: @mikumerikanto

Happy international women’s day. My dream for the future of this day is that we will grow it to celebrate individual women who have shaped history on individual days. For example, we could have Susan B Anthony day and Harriet Tubman day, just like we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr day and Washington and Lincoln at Presidents’ Day. Women, (especially mothers) deserve more than one day. I also think we should celebrate international men’s day. #stillshegoes #IWD2018 #pressforprogress

I love how skiing teaches you to be fierce, aggressive, and charge forward. I’m going to take that same energy into our meetings about protecting public lands tomorrow with Senators and Representatives from UT, ID, MT and CO in Washington DC and business leaders from the @conservationalliance. Wish us luck! #WeKeepItWild Photo: @acpictures

It snowed 24” in 24 hours in Utah. And I am on a flight to Washington DC today to do some political advocacy work with @conservationalliance. This photo is not my reality. And I only feel a tiny tinge of FOMO, knowing all my friends are skiing overhead, blower powder. Preparing for this trip, I’ve been studying economic data that quantifies the value of protected public lands and how they benefit communities and contribute to quality of life. The outdoor experience means so much to me, I’ve devoted my entire life to it. So going to DC to communicate that to elected officials is one small thing I can do to give back for all that I have received from my time in wild places. And I’ll be focusing on that mission in my mind today as I try not to see all the good photos and videos of Utah pow on social media. Photo: @libbe_ellis

It’s ok to be terrified about something and do it anyway. When I first picked up a copy of “The Chuting Gallery,” it terrified me, yet I was drawn to it in ways I cannot explain. Whether it’s skiing a scary line or speaking up about climate change, public lands, gender bias or #blacklivesmatter, I believe it’s important to look fear in the face and take a stand for the things that matter in life. As Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” If you’re interested in reading more about my progression as a ski mountaineer, check out the link below and in profile to a story by @meganmichelson for @Freeskier. https://t.co/yKwwoDTNSpPhoto: @acpictures @julboeyewearna

100,000 human-powered vertical climbed so far in 2018 (mostly on skis). Inspired by @airandrice. In today’s world, there is a lot of noise, especially on social media. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the pressure of it all. At the end of the day, it’s not about the numbers. It’s about the simple act of putting one foot in front of another and climbing up a mountain, whether it’s on snow or dirt or rock or ice. It’s following my heart and pursuing my passion, and trying to protect the experience for future generations. And I’m grateful to share the journey with you. Thanks for following along. #bigmtndreams photo: @acpictures

Worth the 4 am wake up. #bigmtndreams @lekiusa

Watching the Olympics makes me remember when I was a child, I always wanted to be a ski racer. I never did ski competitively (although I still dream of wearing a speed suit). The good news is, it’s never too late to be what you might have been. This quote was introduced to me by my dear friend @jessamunion, who also happens to be my massage therapist, yoga teacher and healer. Jessa nudges me to let go of the parts of my story that no longer serve me (that I am broken and unloveable) and to go forward as a whole person. I find each step a little lighter today and I wish everyone in the world could have a Jessa in their life. Photo by the talented outdoor sports photographer @libbe_ellis

I love how a good storm cycle puts life priorities into place. Photo: @schirfphoto @patagonia_snow #bigmtndreams

25 Miles (40 km) of distance, 10,800 ft (3291 m) of climbing, 4 laps up and down Grandeur Peak. This weekend, I participated in my first ever (and the 8th annual) Run Up for Air (RUFA), started by @derajslc. I’ve been a clean air activist in Utah for almost a decade. Usually, we’re protesting at the Capitol or meeting with legislators. It was a breath of fresh air (pun intended) to merge the passion for the mountains with a strong environmental message. The people of Utah want action on air quality now. It was inspiring to see everyone out there pushing themselves for a good cause!

@kayak has featured Salt Lake City as a wallet-friendly destination on their 2018 Travel Hacker Guide, one of my favorite places to race down a mountain in snow so soft it doesn’t even make a sound when it falls. When you’re there make sure to visit Big Cottonwood Canyon, the perfect place to find that wintry euphoria. Check out Salt Lake City along with other destinations via the link in my profile. #ad #KAYAKTravelHacker

Many of you have asked me, how can I get involved? What can I do to help the environment? I’m so stoked to announce the launch of @patagonia action works. It’s like a dating site to connect people with local grassroots non profits working to save the planet. Sign up. Show up. Take action. Visit the link below and in my profile to get involved. #AnswerWithAction http://pat.ag/PAWnow

Leaving New Mexico energized and inspired after thoughtful discussions with @bcorporation leaders about how business can make the world a better place. The coolest part of B Corps is that they pursue a triple bottom line, measuring success not just by monetary profit but by social and environmental impact as well. It’s a radical notion, and one I can fully get behind! I’m thinking about making my business, Big Mountain Dreams LLC, a B Corp as well. Thank you @skitaos for hosting and @patagonia for the invitation.