Jumper: Kim Kircher

Town: Crystal Mountain, Washington

Quote: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

About Kim: I learned to ski when I was three years old. I grew up in Seattle and my parents we ski instructors at the local hill. We spent every weekend on the slopes. We often slept all five of us in a miniscule trailer or on the benches of the tiny ski school hut. For my first day on skis my mom told me what to expect. On the drive to the mountain that morning in our K5 Blazer, she explained how to grab onto the rope tow, and most importantly, how to let go at the top. Mom snuck away from her own class to watch me take my first run. She looked for me on the bunny hill but couldn’t find me. Then she heard my voice from the chairlift above. She gasped, worried that the instructor would put me at risk on the upper slopes. But I was smiling and waving. My skis stuck straight out in front of me, and, she would later tell me, I looked both calm and excited. I put my skis into a pizza at the top of the run and never looked back. I’ve been finding ways to the top of mountains ever since.

I have been a ski patroller at Crystal Mountain, WA for 26 years. When I’m not on the slopes or in the water, you can usually find me writing. My memoir The Next 15 Minutes tells the story of how my job as a ski patroller helped me get through my husband’s liver transplant. I’m currently working on a novel about ski area life. Turning my adventures into stories allows me to extract meaning from them. I believe that adversity shapes us in ways that prosperity never can. Working and playing in the mountains provides those challenges, and those challenges, in turn, that have shaped my character. When we choose to do the hard thing, we teach ourselves how to conquer adversity. We tell ourselves, I did this hard thing, I can do the next thing that comes along. Adventures in the outdoors give us that opportunity. Climbing mountains, skiing hard lines, surfing big waves—all of these things can teach us how to manage adversity. Jumping into adventure and not turning away from risk teaches us to be resilient.

SheJumps embodies this same ethos. When we push ourselves to take risks, we are actually doing more than just that activity. Skiing a hard line is more than just friction and gravity and cold snow. It’s a lesson in the value of pushing ourselves. It’s a little nugget that we can hold onto later when life’s vagaries—large or small—threaten to topple us.

I owe all of my strength to the mountains.

Follow Kim at her blog, kimkircher.com