Wild Skills Mountain Camp: Rainier

Written by Wild Skills Director, Christy Pelland

We hosted our first overnight Wild Skills Mountain Camp July 29-August 2 at Mt Rainier National Park thanks in part to our partners Clif, Y.E.T.I., Bight Gear and RMI Expeditions. This unique camp experience ranged from learning camping best practices to mountaineering skills needed to climb big peaks to creating art during your adventures.

On Day 1, Sunday, July 29, campers met up with our team in Des Moines, WA for a gear check prior to packing up into the van and heading out to Mt Rainier National Park. They spent the drive creating a team playlist with everyone’s favorite songs and learning more about communication techniques. After a hour wait at the park’s entrance, we arrived at Cougar Rock Campground where we constructed our basecamp and discussed Leave No Trace principles and other camping basics.

The girls were assigned to tent teams which consisted of 3 girls per tent, per campsite. Each tent team was lead by an adult chaperone who helped guide them through gear checks, dish duty, lessons in personal hygiene & space, respect, teamwork, conflict resolution, ridiculously silly games, and most importantly – choosing a team name, which included The Grounded Squirrels, The Llamacorns and The Mountain Goats.

That evening we attended the nightly Ranger Talk and learned all about owls. Campers were given the opportunity to dissect owl pellets which some thought was the coolest! After a full taco dinner and cinnamon roll dessert; we decided to head up to Paradise and take part in the Star Party that started at sun down. We arrived in the parking lot just before sunset and decided a mini-hike up the Alta Vista trail was in order.

On our descent, the group was abruptly stopped by the deer in the trail – this was quite the surprise for some! As we approached the parking lot we could see the group of at least 40 people waiting for the Star Party to start. Three female rangers led the discussion about the wonders of astronomy including how we enjoy the stars, light pollution, identification, and viewing techniques available that evening.

Day 2, started with breakfast and a yoga session with camp chaperone, Amy, who taught the girls the basics of breath, focus, and balance. This was a perfect way to start off the day of learning.

After packing up into the van, we travelled back down to Longmire where we met up with Ranger Catherine. She led us down part of the Wonderland Trail that follows the Nisqually River. During breaks she presented the girls with new topics and challenges relating to the geological history of the park and what would happen in the event of an eruption. The day’s greatest challenge ended up being the heat, as we struggled with record high temps in the park. Luckily, we remained covered by the trees for most of the adventure, the river was cold, and we had plenty of snacks!

That evening, after all had rested, we broke into two teams, one covering navigation and the other shelter building. In navigation we taught campers about topographic maps, directions, compass use and other forms of navigating. They wrapped up with a treasure hunt throughout the campground. In shelter building, we read through the Wild Skills Journal which lays out the basics of a survival shelter, and then tasked girls with building their own.

The girls also prepared a talent show, which they deemed ‘SheJumps Got Talent!’ They spent the early evening hours rehearsing for the show and inviting others in the campground to the event. Performances included comedy skits, complete with commercial breaks for companies the girls invented, Beyonce covers, and renditions of famous Broadways plays.

Day 3 started early with breakfast and the morning briefing, followed by a quick trip up to the Comet Falls trailhead. Prior to the campers waking up, our leaders determined that Amy would be the victim for the day, as we would be practicing First Aid skills throughout the adventure. We’d planned to have breaks during the ascent filled with educational scenarios, and then on the descent Amy would break from the group and we’d find her injured on the trail with dramatic bleeding wounds and a broken limb. We were all excited to ham it up and create fake injuries but that’s not what the day held.

We were approximately .3 miles from the waterfall when Amy was stung in the ankle by a yellow jacket. She played it off, we treated her on site and after a quick snack – moved up the trail. Within a few minutes we stopped again as we’d finally found a proper site to teach ‘Peeing & Pooping in the Outdoors!’ As I led the group in a conversation about the topic, Amy became progressively worse. I handed the group off to Talia and went to assist Kristen with Amy’s care. We laid out a sleeping pad for her to rest and kept her talking and laughing all while conducted a full body check and gauging breath & pulse. Every lead on this trip is trained in first aid & CPR care but Kristen has just about completed her nursing school degree, which brings ease to any patient’s mind. As Amy’s breathing became more restricted and hives broke out all over her body, we determined EMTs were needed. Talia ran down to alert rangers, as there was no service, and the rest of us carefully made our way down.

As we neared the parking lot, we heard sirens and I gathered the group again instructing them how we will act when we reach Amy. As we reached Amy and the 3 EMTs at the trailhead, all campers hurried past, following Talia to the van in silence. After a full medical assessment, it was determined that Amy was indeed going to live and they worked out a treatment plan with the EMTs. After receiving care in a nearby town, Amy returned to camp, despite the sweltering heat and unbelievably severe allergic reaction, to tough out the rest of camp. We monitored her condition throughout the afternoon as she rested, and upon returning to the land of the living around dinner time, we conducted a debrief with her and the rest of the team. After laying out the day’s most intense event, I asked what was the most important thing they learned from the experience. Without hesitation, Camille responded with, ‘you must stay calm’ – we talked in length about how the leaders acted in order to keep everyone at ease, including Amy, how they knew it was serious, and how decisions were made. We all concluded that Amy is a Wonder Woman for returning to camp and that this situation cemented just how important it is to have first aid skills.

Day 4, was the biggest physical challenge of the camp, and we’d been prepping the campers for it since the beginning telling them to mentally prepare for what is to come. That worked well as most campers later expressed they thought it was going to be much harder. The team started earlier than normal with a quick oatmeal & bacon breakfast, and travel to Paradise where we met up with RMI Expeditions guides, Gloria & Nikki.

The group divied up gear, including ice axes, crampons, helmets, gaiters, avalanche transceivers, and harnesses. Once everyone was set, we made our way up through Edith Creek Basin where we happened upon many creatures, including marmots, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. The climate was colder than the previous days, which was such a treat and made for easier travel conditions.

The team happily travelled up the many switchbacks and kept conversation flowing throughout. After a hearty snack, which included rainbow sprinkles that somehow ended up in my bag (hehe!), the team strapped on the crampons and learned how to walk in them.

We didn’t spend long on this topic as the snow was softening quickly and crampons weren’t needed. Next, the team geared up in their hard shell jackets and pants in order to work on ice axe skills and self arrest techniques.


We wrapped up the mountain school with a lesson by Nikki in how avalanche transceivers work. She explained why they are used, how to use them, and led the girls in a mock search.

The point of these courses is for young girls to connect with the outdoors, gain skills, and spend time with the strong women of the mountain community. Huge thanks goes out to Nikki & Gloria for hanging with us for the day! You are SOLID GOLD!


In order to give the girls the full mountaineer experience, we had a variety of Mountain House meals for them to try, including the top rated Beef Stroganoff, Spaghetti, and Chili Mac with beef. We finished off the experience with Mountain House ice cream bars, which none of the girls had tried before! Campers and leaders alike were tired from the day’s adventure and we capped off the evening with games of Uno and storytelling.

Day 5, our last day of camp focused on Art & Celebration. The campers slept in as we prepared a lavish brunch and sandwich bar for them. After eating all we could eat including the last of the Eggos and two packages of bacon, we cleaned and packed up camp.

We rolled out of the campground by noon and parked at the Carter Falls trailhead, where we crossed the Nisqually River and set up our nature art studio. The first project we tackled was rock decorating, creating favorite moments from camp or patterns that remind you for the experience. These personalized rocks (which were brought from Kirsten’s personal home #LNT) were then placed in macrame necklaces the campers weaved.

Project two was sketching and watercolor painting the mountain, although it eluded us during this time so the girls had to create pieces from memory and sample photos we provided. After applying watercolor to the paper, they laid them out to dry in the sun and later applied ink and colored pencil to enhance lines and shape.

After creating unique pieces of art based on their experiences throughout the week, we gathered around in a large circle for one of our final camp activities. Each camper had a clipboard with their name on it, when the leaders said pass they’d pass the paper to the left and that camper would write something positive about that person. We switched until everyone had contributed to each paper and the camper was holding their own again. It was a wonderful way to build each other up, kind of like camping yearbooks. The leaders then presented each camper with glowing praise of their achievements throughout the week and a super rad camp certificate.

After a quick ice cream break in Eatonville, we made our way back to camper pickup in Des Moines and all returned home after a magical week in the mountains. Thank you to all campers and parents for participating in this camp – it was the first of many overnight experience SheJumps plans to offer through the Wild Skills program. Extra special thanks to our partners who support this vision! And finally my most heartfelt, gushing praise to our volunteers: Amy, Kristen and Talia who made this happen. SheJumps runs on the efforts of dedicated volunteers like you. Thank you for sharing your skills, humor, time and patience with our campers – I am so very grateful for humans like you!

Learn about events first by signing up for the Wild Skills newsletter here.

Special thanks to our partners:

Presenting Partner: CLIF

Program Partner: Bight GearWhittaker MountaineeringRMI Expeditions

Nonprofit Partner: Y.E.T.I.

SheJumps Force of Nature Program: Opportunities for All Girls

Last summer, SheJumps was awarded $25,000 from REI as a grant for the Force of Nature program. REI committed $500,000 towards it’s goal to “advance gender equity in the outdoors and encourage millions of its members to embrace the outdoors as “the world’s largest level playing field.”” You may have seen some of our posts on social media about it.

REI’s grant to SheJumps enabled us to materialize our vision for a more inclusive and diverse outdoor community. This program challenged the barriers that prevent a more diverse population of girls from the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities.

We started by developing a strong relationship with a community organization in Salt Lake City, Utah, called Hartland Community 4 Youth and Families (HC4YF). HC4YF serves a diverse community in West Valley of Salt Lake City through after-school and soccer programs. SheJumps provided 28 Hartland girls (of whom identify as non-white, immigrant, or refugee) with a year-long series of outdoor educational experiences, supported by more than 45 volunteers who submitted applications to be a part of the program.

Wild Skills Basics (a national SJ program) teaches basic First Aid, as well as navigation, shelter building, Leave No Trace, and the 10 Essentials.

Starting with a Wild Skills: Basics course where we taught first aid, Leave No Trace, 10 Essentials, navigation, and shelter building, the Force of Nature program went on to explore climbing, skiing, camping, and hiking. We did a total of 13 excursions with the girls: indoor climbing (4 times), introduction to camping at REI store, skiing at Alta (4 times), hiking, yoga, Wild Skills day camps (2 times), and a 3 day camping trip to Canyonlands National Park. Part of this program was also funded by the Outdoor Foundation’s initiative, Parks4Kids.

SJ Force of Nature volunteer Kayla Bobzien helps a participant understand the value of chalk when climbing.

Momentum climbing in Sandy generously hosted four indoor climbing sessions for our Force of Nature program funded by REI.

Introduction to camping night at REI was a great way to get introduced to gear and passionate outdoor women.

Learning from the team at REI during our Introduction to camping session.

The idea for how this program would work—and how we plan to replicate it in our other regions—stems from our intention to increase diversity in the outdoors. Our vision is to build enduring relationships with community organizations already focused on diversity and inclusion. Many community organizations like HC4YF do important work in our communities, but lack the resources to provide outdoor education, outdoor activities, and opportunities to engage with their natural surroundings.

Berenice Yanez (left) is a graduate of our SheJumps into the Canyon ski program and has since become a dear friend and supporter of SheJumps. It was incredible to have her attend the camping trip as a leader and a woman of color.

Finding some shade in the desert with friends. L to R: Leslie, Xitlali, and Yasira.

The Census Bureau projects that by 2042 there will be a majority minority population in the United States. According to the 2017 Outdoor Industry Association participation report, 73% of outdoor participants are Caucasian, while only 10% are Hispanic. These are factors that contribute significantly to the future of the outdoors (especially preserving our national spaces) as we know it. James Edward Mills, author of The Adventure Gap writes: “If outdoor enthusiasts are mostly white, then a shift to a “majority minority” population in the United States could mean bad news for the conservation movement.” Essentially, if we don’t do something now about the lack of participation in the outdoors from diverse communities, outdoor communities as we recognize them today will not only shrink in size, but so will the influence and sentiment protect and conserve natural spaces.

Mesa Arch: our first desert hike as a team!

The vision SheJumps has for building a bridge with these organizations and communities is to provide consistent mentorship from volunteers in a multitude of activities. This exposure to the outdoors is crucial to spark passion for outdoor activities, instill the importance of environmental awareness and sustainability, as well as inspire young women to pursue a career in the outdoors through access to positive female role models.

Volunteer Beth Lopez celebrates a powder day with her new friend from the SheJumps Force of Nature program.

It’s not as if SheJumps or REI were the first entities to declare that there was a lack of diversity in the outdoors, and obviously it’s still a problem today given the participation report from the OIA. It’s inspiring and pivotal to see groups and media outlets like Native Women’s WildernessOutdoorAfro, Natives Outdoors, Brown Girls Climb, Latino Outdoors, and Brown People Camping (just to name a few). Claire Smallwood, our executive director who wrote the grant, penned the several-page application over a span of several weeks and says, “I felt a lot of emotions while applying for the funding, including fear of failure. I was constantly re-evaluating what would be a realistic use of funds while still providing tangible opportunities. It was daunting at the time and I wanted to be sure that this program was not just a one-off experience for the girls, and would actually set them up for a lifetime of outdoor adventure.”

10th Annual SheJumps into the Canyon youth skiing program. We offer the program to Boys & Girls clubs of Salt Lake as well.

We are in the process of applying for an additional REI grant and we know that this is just the beginning of this story.

We are using this partnership (and what we learned from it during this past year) to develop the groundwork for collaborations with more organizations who specialize in supporting diverse communities in other areas of the country. One of our organizational goals is to be the leading provider of free and low-cost outdoor education for women and girls across the country. We believe our programs must be available for everyone, and that our work is not completed until all women are represented regardless of their race, background, ethnicity, or ability.

If you are a woman of color or interested in supporting our efforts towards a more diverse and inclusive outdoor space, please contact claire@shejumps.org 

A rainy Saturday in May we took the Force of Nature team to Lisa Falls, showing that sometimes you can’t let a bit of weather stop your adventures.

We took inclement weather and lack of snow for snowshoeing and turned it into an awesome introspective yoga experience—the first time for many to try yoga!

Claire (executive director) and Erica and Josie washing dishes in the desert during the Moab camping trip.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit” —Edward Abbey

 

Winter Throwback: Grand Traverse Ski Race

Written by: Julie Nania

We spent months preparing for the Grand Traverse: long backcountry training days; scouting the course; buying all new lightweight gear; talking with experienced GT veterans. In the days leading up to the race, we spent hours preparing for the what-ifs. What if our skins failed? What if our bindings iced over? What if one of us got too tired to continue?

What we did not contemplate was a last-minute blizzard sweeping through the region and laying down over a foot of new snow, accompanied by serious uncertainty over whether the race course would be altered due to snow conditions. At the pre-race meeting, race Director Andrew Arell announced that the safety team didn’t yet know whether they could send us over Star Pass, the most dangerous part of the course. It wasn’t until five hours before the race that we learned we’d be embarking on an infamous Grand Reverse – an out-and-back trek from Crested Butte to Star Pass and back. Everyone was bummed we wouldn’t be skiing the full course to Aspen but grateful that race management was prioritizing our safety.

One hour before our midnight start, the storm moved out and the skies cleared. As we stood at the starting line, straining to hear the Blessing of the Freeheelers, the crowd was buzzing. We vowed once again to set a relaxed pace on the initial climb up Mount Crested Butte. With the crack of the starting gun, we clamored forward with 400 headlamp-lit racers, up the mountain and into a starlit night. Despite the late hour, spectators lined the ski run and a couple of naked pranksters skied through the throngs of racers.

The first few hours of the race were pretty social. The course was crowded and hectic during the climb up the ski area and the steep descent off the back side of Mount Crested Butte. After crossing the East River and putting our skins back on, we got caught in a virtual conga-line, single-file river of headlamps. We followed a side-sloping, bushy skin track. Snow was sparse, making passing difficult for about 4 miles. But after we turned up the Brush Creek drainage and started climbing toward Death Pass, the crowds thinned out – we even found ourselves passing a few teams as we headed up the Continental Divide. It was a perfectly calm night and frost crystals started to precipitate on our packs as we pushed up to the Friends Hut checkpoint.

After a brief pause at Friends Hut to refill water and have a snack, we powered up the short, steep climb to the turnaround point. At about 6 a.m., in the darkest and coldest moment of the night, we ripped our skins for the fun descent back down Brush Creek. The new day came slowly in the deep, forested valley. Our spirits rose as we made our way back toward Crested Butte, then dropped again when we were told by race volunteers that we had a six-mile bootpack to get to the finish. Hours later, we emerged from a labyrinth of singletrack trails on to the slopes of the Crested Butte ski area and Girafficorned our way across the finish line.

There were some delightful surprises along the course. Nearly a foot of fresh powder had accumulated at the top of Star Pass – our first turns on the way down were some of the deepest snow in a sparse season. At sunrise, Whetstone Mountain was bathed in pink light. By the time we skated our way back to the end of Brush Creek Road our friends were at the checkpoint with hot coffee.

At other points in the race we flailed. At the top of Star Pass as the temperature plummeted towards zero both of our waters froze (even though we had sewn them into the front of our shirts to take our body heat). Trying to shed speed, Julie deviated five feet off the course and was sent soaring by an obscured stump (there’s now a chunk missing from her touring gear). Sarah’s skins iced so bad they repeatedly peeled off; we brought seven pairs of skins and ended up going through six pairs. Variable course conditions meant that five miles of the race were either bone-dry, bootpacking conditions, or a thick mud. By the end of the race our feet were wrecked from hiking for miles in AT boots while we carried our skis.

The Grand Traverse is tough and at times relentless. We were prepared to suffer and at certain moments we did. What we didn’t anticipate? How much fun it would be. Sarah’s husband Paco jogged to the Ambush Ranch checkpoint in the middle of the night to shout words of encouragement. SheJumps’ Online Event Coordinator, Sierra Cucinelli, and Sam Higby greeted us with hugs and hot coffee after a night of no sleep. The support we felt from our friends, family, and SheJumps team during the race was overwhelming – and together we raised over $3,300 to get more ladies out there. We’re thrilled to have crossed the finish line as girafficorns!

RECAP: SheJumps Whitewater Rafting in Richmond, VA

Article by Alicia  Monahan, Southeast Region Ambassador

We were stoke to hold a Whitewater Rafting event in Richmond, VA, especially since there was so much interest in doing a whitewater rafting trip via the Facebook group. There was stoke, as well as hesitation, as some wanted to raft, but did not want a crazy and intense adventure. This trip was perfect for those who wanted an intro to rafting, and/or to simply experience the James River.

Over a week out, the forecast was calling for rain, but we still had participants registering for the event. I mean, you’re going to get wet anyway, right? May as well dance and play in the rain!

The morning that the event was planned turned out to be a downpour, the forecast was correct. SheJumps Ambassadors arrived on scene and set up a pop-up tent so we could have a place somewhat dry for participants to sign in, and look at merchandise to purchase, if they chose to. We were hoping to have a more social intro to the trip, but the rain kind of rained on that parade…pun intended.

Once the rafting company vehicles arrived, it was time to load up and hit the river! All the SheJumpers loaded up onto one bus and we headed to the river. There, we were given a safety briefing, and the equipment needed to get down the river, helmets, PFD’s, and paddles for all!

Southeast Whitewater1

Three lucky participants even had the special privilege of paddling a bucket boat down the river, with Southeast Ambassador, Alicia Monahan, as their guide! Most of the rafts are self-bailing, meaning the water from the waves is able to get out of the boat on it’s own…this lucky crew had to bail the water out of their boat using their helmets. Teamwork!

Southeast Whitewater1

The group had some smaller rapids to warm up, before paddling hard through Hollywood Rapid, a well known Class III+ rapid which is located right next to Belle Isle. By this time, I think most of us had forgotten it was even raining, as it had definitely slowed down to a drizzle.

Southeast Whitewater3

The group got to experience the city of Richmond from a vantage point only those who paddle get to see, floating past the city skyline at the pace of the water.

Southeast Whitewater4

We stopped at an island called “Blackbird,” where we refreshed with water and pineapple slices, and got to swing off a rope swing. Weee!

Southeast Whitewater5

After that we headed downstream, where we were promised, “Surf’s up!” What fun that was! Much different than our beach surfing event earlier this summer!

Southeast Whitewater7

The trip was a blast, and at the end, we paid homage to the river gods for a safe journey down their waters. The great thing about whitewater rafting, is it’s a team endeavor. Everyone had to work together with their guide to get safely down the river. As with any SheJumps event, remember these words from the Maori tribe of New Zealand, “He waka eke noa,” meaning, “We are all in this together.”

We are currently planning to have another whitewater rafting trip in the late Spring/Early Summer, which will hopefully bring higher water, and a greater adventure, so those who enjoyed this trip and want more, will have a completely different experience if they come back, and those who want an awesome ride, sign up if you missed out on this one!

The Right Kind of Sunscreen: Do Your Part

By Tessa Samuels and Tiffany Thio

Imagine, just for a moment, plunging deep into the most biologically diverse ecosystem on earth. You sink 150 feet down through blue water that flickers and catches the light that only the shallow areas of the ocean can catch, coming to stop by a bright calcium carbonate structure. Millions of bright, spotted, striped, speckled and patterned fish swim by, their bodies moving sand away from the surface of the coral revealing the billions of coral polyps that make up this brilliant ecosystem.

Coral reefs occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor yet are home to more than 25% of marine life. They protect coastlines — and many coastal towns — from waves and tropical storms, they are vital to the world’s fisheries, a source of medical advances, and help with carbon and nitrogen fixing. While the Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world, there are hundreds of small reefs that play an equally important role in nutrient recycling and providing habitats for many marine organisms.

Something that is becoming common knowledge is the endangerment of coral reefs. Global warming, overfishing, nutrient-rich fertilizer runoff, hot water run off from power plants, pathogens, and trash alongside many other cases has impacted coral bleaching — when the water is too warm and corals expel the algae living in their tissues which places them under stress and increases the vulnerability of the populations — and the loss of our coral reefs. Another potentially dangerous activity to coral reefs is the use of sunscreen. NOAA estimates that 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen washes off our bodies and into our coral reefs every year.

There are two categories of sunscreen you may have seen at your local store: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens function by first absorbing the energy of UV rays, then re-emitting them as energy of longer wavelengths that are less harmful to skin1. Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, utilize inorganic ingredients such as zinc oxide (ZnO) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) to simply reflect UV rays.3 You may say, these sunscreens work in different ways, but they achieve the same outcome, don’t they? Well, not exactly. Physical sunscreens tend to be better for the marine environment that you swim in.

Many popular chemical sunscreens contain either oxybenzone, which absorbs UVA-II (320-340 nm) and UV-B (290-320 nm)1,3, or octinoxate, which absorbs UV-B2. The presence of these two compounds in marine habitats have been linked to a whole host of detrimental environmental effects.

Research done on this issue has also informed recent policy-making. In their 2018 legislative session, the state of Hawai’i passed a bill prohibiting the sale and distribution of chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.5 The listed effects on coral reefs include, but are not limited to, decreasing the resiliency of corals toward climate change, detrimental impacts on endangered species, and increasing reproductive diseases, endocrine disruption, and causing deformities in embryonic development for certain species.5

If you are working or recreating near reefs, or in a marine habitat, choose to purchase sunscreens such as Stream2Sea instead of those containing harmful compounds. (Note: Using sun protection is extremely important for the prevention of skin cancer.) Beyond sunscreen, pollutants such as waste discharge from ships, industries, and coastal cities all have a massive impact on these coral communities. Additionally, the issue that is currently causing the most damage to coral reefs is not sunscreen, but climate change. As such, voting, working within and outside your communities to advocate for these issues, and changing the way we consume are all ways that we can change the current trajectory of the environment.

We’re grateful for Stream2Sea for donating to SheJumps. 10% of proceeds from your purchase will benefit SheJumps when you use the code SheJumps at checkout. Go to: Stream2Sea.com

Partner Profile: Shredly

We don’t have to tell you, summer is mountain biking season! This year all over the country SheJumps is bringing intro to mountain biking, skills clinics, and downhill mountain biking events to a location near you. We hope you jump in and give it a try! SheJumps is about fun, color, and costumes. We wouldn’t be surprised to attend an event to see a lady shredder in a full unicorn onesie show up on a bike. That’s why were so excited to have Shredly partnering on our events this summer! Look out for their fun shorts, you might just get lucky and win a pair at the raffle. If you’re not so lucky be sure to find them on their website at www.shredly.com

What is Shredly?

In 2012 SHREDLY was created to bring a burst of fresh style and color into the world of women’s mountain biking and beyond. Each collection is thoughtfully designed to be fun and beautiful, while carefully engineered to be used for the many outdoor (sometimes indoor) activities that we all love. SHREDLY is a woman-owned and operated company that only designs apparel specifically for…you guessed it, women. Our goal is to make the fun of every adventure begin the moment you get dressed.

How did you start the company?

The idea was born when my girlfriends and I started riding a lot but all had complaints about the lack of fun, comfortable, MTB bike shorts for women. The idea of awesome bike shorts was something that started to keep me up at night and a year or so later I left my full-time job for a part-time job that would allow me to spend more time on what was slowly but surely becoming something more tangible. Then SHREDLY was officially launched on Kickstarter and after a successful campaign the momentum continued and… here we are today!

What does being a female boss mean to you?

In my current position and in the MTB industry it means that I get to be part of a paradigm shift that is overdue. Being a woman has been nothing but advantageous to me from the beginning of SHREDLY, so now that I am in this position it means that I get to build a business where this trickles down. And represents the values, ratios, and practices that will eventually become the norm.

Why did you decide to support SheJumps?

As a women’s-specific apparel brand whose purpose is to outfit women for adventure and enhance their outdoor experiences in every way possible, we could not align more in mission, passion, and reason for being than with SheJumps. Having a connection with nature, embracing community, and empowering ourselves with outdoor education are all matters near and dear to our hearts. We are thrilled to partner with SheJumps to further their mission of increasing the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities and look forward to growing our communities together. – Ashley Rankin, SHREDLY Founder and Designer

 

2018 Wild Skills Basics: Boise

Boise summers are filled with camping, rivers, lakes, hiking, biking, and all sorts adventures. We want our community of young females to possess the skills they need to safely explore the outdoors with their families. On June 2nd twenty-nine girls flocked to the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center for the third annual Boise Wild Skills. SheJumps’ Wild Skills youth events teach young girls the survival and technical skills they need for outdoor adventuring. To help us out, we were excited to welcome back some of our favorite community partners; Outdoor Exchange, Air St. Luke’s, Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue, and Albertsons.

The girls started off the day meeting their color coded teams. Once they were decked out in either purple or yellow, the girls took part in a dance party and yoga to kick off the day. They then rotated through the following fun filled stations:

In it’s second year, was the mountain biking station. We were thrilled to include bike and helmet donations from Boise Bicycle Project. We also enlisted the help of a friend and licensed MTB coach, Carolyn Park.

Carolyn shows the girls how to ride a technical section.

After learning about trail etiquette and pre-ride safety checks the girls took off to explore the wealth of trails Boise has to offer (some for the first time ever). There were multiple instances when some rock sections proved to be challenging for the girls. As a group, we stopped to scope out the best lines and talk about how to safely ride the technical features. We only had two minor crashes and zero bandaids! The girls that crashed even hiked back up to successfully try again. The huge smiles and and happy squeals let us know the immense amount of pride the girls felt after tackling the trails.

After crashing on the first try, Annie hiked up to ride again. She successfully cleared the rocks!

In addition to mountain biking, the girls went through stations filled with valuable education on Shelter Building, Navigation, 10 Essentials & Leave No Trace, and First Aid. In Shelter Building, a Tracy Crites, owner of Outdoor Exchange, taught the girls what to pack for shelter, and also how to make a shelter using items found from their surroundings if they were ever stranded. The girls saw this as a fun opportunity to build with tarps, emergency blankets, and even garbage bags.

Navigation was lead by the experts from Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue. They taught the girls the basics of how to read a topographic map and of course to Never Eat Soggy Waffles. The girls even used real compasses to put “Red in the Shed” to find true North.

Next up was 10 Essentials & Leave No Trace. SheJumps Regional Coordinators, Stacey Hopstad and Kim Holloway, took the lead to teach the girls how to pack and prepare for an adventure as well as how to protect the beautiful places they visit. The girls took turns telling stories about a time when they were disappointed to find garbage or other ways humans had disturbed the animals or plants around them. They all left inspired to be advocates and experts at Leave No Trace.

The last station was First Aid. The girls were able to learn the process of what to do in case of an injury when they are out in the wild; Stay Calm, Get Help, and how to use their packed First Aid items. During the class the girls drew fake injuries with markers ranging from scrapes and broken bones to more elaborate/creative cougar attacks. They then treated these injuries with the help of the Air St. Luke’s experts.

Wild Skills Boise was made possible by a our special group of volunteers who gave their time to help make this an event the participants will never forget. Delicious volunteer lunches and snacks were donated by the ever generous Albertsons and snacks for the day were provided by Clif and GoGoSqueez. Thank you all to helped make this such a special event for these young ladies!

To learn more about our community partners, visit them at:

Albertsons: http://www.albertsons.com

Boise Bicycle Project: http://www.boisebicycleproject.org/

Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue: http://www.imsaru.org/

Outdoor Exchange: http://www.outdoor-exchange.com/

St. Luke’s: https://www.stlukesonline.org/

Clif: www.clifbar.com

GoGo Squeez: www.gogosqueez.com

SheJumps Wild Skills Adventure: McCall

It’s always a treat to wake up to a chilly summer morning in Idaho and that’s exactly what we did on Sunday, July 22nd at Brundage Mountain Resort. Our Wild Skills adventure morning warmed up quickly with an enthusiastic group of girls and their families flocked to the mountains for a fun day of hiking and education.

Kathy Schon started off the morning off by leading us through a fun and refreshing yoga practice.

Once we were warmed up, the crew filled their packs healthy snacks provided by GoGo Squeez and Clif Bar to help fuel them for their upcoming adventure.

Brundage Mountain patrol led the team through a group first aid activity that showed us the keys to completing a successful and safe trail rescue. The team learned the importance of staying calm and being prepared when it comes to providing a safe environment for you and your adventure buddies.

They also learned that candy is a worthwhile use of space in your pack. Spencer, the head of Brundage summer mountain patrol, then showed how a litter wheel is used to assist in summer trail evacuation.

After a quick snack break and review of our 10 Essentials, we hit the trails for a hike to practice some of our new found skills. The Nature Trail offered the perfect amount of challenging terrain to give our crew a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

With lunch time approaching, we mounted the Bluebird Express and enjoyed a short chairlift ride to the top of the resort. The views and the lunch gave our crew the energy they needed to achieve one more summit before the end of our day. The short scramble up loose rock and dirt proved to be worth the effort when we were rewarded by a 360 degree panoramic view of our beautiful surroundings.

A huge thank you to Clif Bar and GoGo Squeez for keeping our hungry crew fed and thank you to Brundage Mountain Resort for welcoming the SheJumps crew with open arms. We look forward to more great events in the area!

Wild Skills Junior Wildland Firefighter: Hood River RECAP

Kickstarted by an idea to spin off our successful Junior Ski Patrol program, SheJumps Wild Skills along with the help of dedicated volunteer Meaghan Gaffney, USDA and Oregon Wildland Firefighters created Junior Wildland Firefighter; a day camp that introduces girls to the facets of wildland firefighting while interacting with the strong women of the firefighting community.

The day camp mimicked the experience of a hand crew throughout the day. In a real fire situation, a hand crew of 20 or so people is broken into squads of 5-7 people.  Each hand crew has a “crew boss.” In the mornings the crew boss attends an incident briefing and then comes back to the crew to brief the rest of the crew on expected weather, current and expected behavior of the fire and what the mission for the day is. From there the crew hikes onto the fire line.  Once on the line, the squads will breakout from each other. Each squad has a specially trained “type one firefighter” in command; we call this person the squad boss. Sometimes the squads will have similar assignments or other times completely different.

First thing in the morning, girls were divided into squads by age, the lead firefighter acted as their squad boss and SheJumps volunteers helped manage the group. All teams took part in the morning briefing lead by Lauren Clark who explained the weather outlook, day’s mission and goals for the day. Next up, Loretta Duke (who’s been fighting fires since 1989!) discussed and demonstrated how to properly build a fire. Ranger Cat jumped in and had the girls identify burnable, small diameter fuel for the fire and taught them about the fire triangle. The triangle illustrates the three elements a fire needs to ignite: heat, fuel, and an oxidizing agent (usually oxygen). A fire naturally occurs when the elements are present and combined in the right mixture.

In no time, the fire was blazing and Loretta called on Lidi from the Central Oregon unit to put it out. During this time, Lidi and the rest of the squad leaders introduced themselves and shared how they got into fighting fires. Many didn’t even know it was a possible career when they stumbled into it. Thanks to events like this, young girls not only gain fire safety and outdoor skills but have first hand experience with women who are truly leading by example in their field.

After the meeting, we were treated to a surprise visit from the local wildland fire engine. Each team got a tour of the engine, it’s components and even got to spray the engine hose!

After touring the engine and spraying the hose, the squads hiked out to the ‘fire line’ which were the stations that we set up. Each team spent approximately 1 hour at each station learning vital outdoor skills.

Navigation was headed up by Kati Santini. The girls learned directional basics, familiarized with topographic maps, how to shoot a bearing and then follow that line until they reach the flagging that has the next bearing. For this station we set up two different compass courses each ending in a surprise treasure.

First Aid led by Adrienne Vought & Danielle Lipsky. At this station, girls learned about first responder practices, minor splinting ideas, how to stop bleeding, and basic first aid kit supplies. It’s also very important for firefighters to know about hydration and electrolytes so we talked about that and what to do if someone is displaying signs of heat stress. A favorite of the teams was creating a make-believe injury and the team responding to it with the correct remedy. Injuries range from being ran over by a truck to bear attacks – it gets pretty wacky!

Team Building & Communication was directed by each squad. They worked through many variations of the Hot Fire Game where each team worked together to find a way across the hot fire (the ground) using only the boards they were provided with to make a bridge. If they step off the boards they must go back to start line! This prompted talk about times where they have experienced challenge and triumph as a teammate and individual. Girls also learned about radio communication and the important role it plays in wildland fires.

Weather & Fire Behavior led by Meaghann Gaffney taught weather basics, how weather & environment affects fire behavior, and situational awareness. The teams started off by discussing what types of weather and terrain affect fires. Then walked through the trees, tuning into nature to notice the slightest chances in wind direction, speed, temperature change and cloud cover. They studied fire weather cloud charts, identified the clouds in the skies, talked about lightning’s role in starting wildfires and discussed what to do if we get caught in one. The station wrapped up with a dynamic fire board demonstration, placing matches on two boards to demonstration a ‘thin’ and ‘dense’ forest. Then lighting them and increasing the slope to see the effect to each.

The day was supposed to wrap up with a group demo of line construction and chainsaw demonstration but 4 of our all-stars were called out to an area fire! The all lady engine crew promptly responded to the Lambert Road fire. The next available resources would have come from Portland to fill out the engine for this fire. The fire ended up being 7 acres and needed lots of ‘mop up’ to be completely put out. We were bummed to miss out on the planned demonstrations but stoked to watch these strong women roll out and get the job done!

Sticking true to the Wild Skills moto of ‘work with what you got’ we shifted gears and fit in a few extras: a colorful lesson in the 10 Essentials, review of Leave No Trace principles and a focused sound mapping exercise that required the girls to observe their surrounding only by what they could hear.

The day wrapped with a AAR ‘After Action Review’ that recapped the day of learning, challenges and rewarding experiences. For some, their favorite part was the fire board experiment and others it was their first encounter with using a compass. Each participant was presented with a Wild Skills Junior Wildland Firefighter certificate & congratulatory handshake!

This event was made possible thanks to the commitment of longtime SheJumps volunteer, Meaghann Gaffney, who put in the time & effort to create the curriculum with Wild Skills Director, Christy Pelland. Gaffney also reached out to her contacts at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (CRGNSA) who were already looking for opportunities to create more youth education programs in response to last year’s devastating Eagle Creek Fire. Gaffney’s desire to provide outdoor adventures and educational opportunities for young girls continues to inspire all of us at SheJumps. We are incredibly grateful to have her as a teammate.

If you think this program is as RAD as we do and want to bring it to your area. Contact Wild Skills Director, Christy Pelland, for more details: cpelland@shejumps.org

Special thanks to our presenting partner: Clif Bar

Event Partners United States Forest Service and United States Department of Agriculture,

Supporting partners Adventure Medical Kits & GoGo Squeez

The Seventh Annual Alpine Finishing School presented by Arc’teryx

Words: Beth Lopez

The seventh annual Alpine Finishing School went off without a hitch, with two sessions of about twelve mountaineering girafficorns assembling at the Selkirk Lodge outside Revelstoke, British Columbia. A huge thank you to our presenting partner, Arc’teryx, for their continued support of this women’s ski and splitboard mountaineering course. 

The first session and the first summit. Primrose Peak! Photo by Abby Cooper

The Alpine Finishing School aims to teach women well versed in backcountry skiing how to properly up their game in mountaineering. (When we say “properly” we mean with professionally guided seriousness sprinkled with inside jokes and fireside giggle-fits.) Each participant spends a week on glacial terrain learning advanced terrain management, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, navigation, anchor-building, and the finer details of mountain adventure.

The girafficorns go marching in, one by one. Photo by Abby Cooper

The Selkirk Lodge is perched high above a convergence of ice fields in the rugged Canadian alpine. It was built thirty years ago by the matriarch of the Selkirks, Grania Devine, who still oversees lodge operations today. Her daughter, Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) certified ski guide Kate Devine, leads the Alpine Finishing School instruction.

Photo by Abby Cooper

SJ Executive Director Claire Smallwood and the legendary Grania Devine, owner and operator of the Selkirk Lodge. Photo: Claire Smallwood

Each day included focused instruction both indoors and out, with the day’s curriculum depending on the weather. Each participant filed downstairs from the cozy upstairs bunks each morning at 7am sharp for a classic Claire Smallwood breakfast, a sack-lunch assembly line, and a discussion of the day’s curriculum. In the mountains of British Columbia, the weather can turn on a dime, so each day’s plan was fine-tuned on the morning of.

Photos by Abby Cooper

After a debrief on the weather and the day’s expectations, each girl filed upstairs to prepare her gear and layers for the day, then meet for instruction. Some days included a little more classroom time, but every day included adventure time. Even the mellow explorational tours filled the slower-paced vibe with discussion on route selection, avalanche risk assessment, trip planning, and navigation. Meanwhile, the bigger tours were exhilarating — topping out with the full gang on Primrose Peak or ascending the Albert Icefield glacier in a methodical procession.

The final summit push to Primrose Peak (above) Guides Kate Devine (right) and Shannon Werner (left) demonstrate crevasse rescue. Photos by Abby Cooper

By halfway through the week, each participant was able to jump in on tasks they may not have managed as handily before: coiling a rope for backpack carry, charting a compass course across low-visibility terrain, or burying a pair of skis to serve as a rappel anchor.

Practicing rope ascension inside the lodge’s basement. Photo by Abby Cooper

The mood varied from occasional jitters to outright exuberance, with the all-female atmosphere making it comfortable for everyone to feel what they felt and talk about where they were. Grania and her sister Reinet took turns supervising the lodge for week one and week two of the Finishing School, and they did more than make sure the lodge was cozy and warm. They served as the most experienced mountain women in the group’s midst, dishing out sage advice and wry laughs.

The Alpine Finishing School provides goggle tans, endless laughs, and rope-untangling 101. Photo by Stella Liechty

At the beginning of the week, freshly exhilarated from the stunning helicopter ride into the lodge, the group sat down around the hand-crafted wooden dining table and shared their intentions. The goals included feeling more confident touring in new parts of the mountains, building leadership skills in a group outdoor setting, or even skiing a certain objective someday. (The AFS Session II Class of 2018 has its sights set on Denali now.)

The group spends time practicing crevasse rescue scenarios. Photo by Stella Liechty

Every attendee mentioned a desire to build more confidence through practice and instruction in an atmosphere where everyone felt safe and heard. The guides were intent on lifting everyone up, giving an ear to every question and concern, and building each girl’s confidence that she, too, could lead a group and make decisions she could stand by.

Over the course of the week, every participant built a stronger sense of self-assuredness along with rote skills like knot-tying, anchor-building, self-arresting, compass navigation, and even the generally hilarious act of glacier-skiing while roped up with a group.

Skiing while roped up might not be that fun, but knowing how to do it is crucial. Photo by Stella Liechty

Dress code: Hawaiian shirt with matching (perfectly coiled) rope. Photo by Beth Lopez

Nights were filled with the exceptional multi-course meals only Claire Smallwood could prepare, followed by wine, laughter, Hawaiian shirts, a Kangaroo outfit, unicorn headpieces, and dad-dancing to party jams.

Session two had no fun at all, as you can plainly see. Photo by Stella Liechty

But in addition to all the evening levity and daily corn-turn whoops, the Alpine Finishing School left each participant changed on a deeper level too. Each woman learned more about the mountains and more about herself too. As the helicopter came by on the final day to pick up the newly graduated girafficorns, there were a few tears and lots of long hugs. The Alpine Finishing School had made its mark in this, the prettiest place in the world. And the graduates were ready to venture out in it with greater strength and sharper skill.

The 2018 Liz Daley scholarship recipient, Steph Mawson. Photo by Abby Cooper

 



Photo by Beth Lopez

Thank you Munk Packs for all your SheJumps support! (Photo Abby Cooper)

Thank you Abby Cooper for your beautiful photography and to Beth Lopez for taking the time to pen this piece.