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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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:

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

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:


Boise Bicycle Project:

Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue:

Outdoor Exchange:

St. Luke’s:


GoGo Squeez:

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:

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. 

Partner Profile: Outdoor Research

Have you noticed on our Outdoor Education flyers this spring that we quietly announced our new presenting partnership with Outdoor Research? Well now we’re ready to share the big news! We are so excited to be working together in a much bigger way this year with Outdoor Research as a title partnership for SheJumps Outdoor Education Initiatives.

Outdoor Research already has been supporting our annual Rainer Climb which raises money for our Wild Skills Program. Now they are contributing financially to our organization to help us continue to grow our Outdoor Education programming. Additionally, Outdoor Research is always working to develop better products for women so stay tuned for an opportunity to take part in a product development collaboration in the coming months!

We recently chatted with Kjersti Gedde, Field Marketing Coordinator at Outdoor Research and she shared more about their broader commitment to supporting women in the outdoor arena.

SheJumps: Give us a little background on Outdoor Research’s community commitments

Kjersti: Increasing access to the outdoors individuals is a huge part of our company and culture platform at Outdoor Research – we work diligently to create better access for all through: supporting land access, improving the outdoor experience, and supporting organizations that work with underrepresented communities in the outdoors.

SheJumps: What campaigns do you already participate in that support female athletes?

Kjersti: Five years ago, we started #SheAdventures to celebrate women of the outdoors… fast forward some years and it’s become a celebration that empowers through an outdoor-focused scholarship, creates dialogue with women empowerment at the center, and helps foster a supportive community.

To learn more about the #SheAdventures, read about it here.

SheJumps: What drives Outdoor Research to support SheJumps?

Kjersti: The partnership with SheJumps was such a “no-brainer”! We’ve been “un-officially” supporting SheJumps events ever since our staff experienced some of the early PNW ski events. SheJumps mission to “increase the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities” directly aligns with our missions and passions as well. We were psyched to “officially” sponsor the Rainier fundraising climb last year and look forward to supporting this year’s fundraising climb, SheJumps education events, and collaborate further.

Make sure to sign up for our email newsletter to claim a great discount for Outdoor Research and to participate in our product development collaboration.

Summer Raffles 2018

Announcing Our Summer Raffle Partners

This June, SheJumps is kicking off another season filled with fun and educational outdoor programs. Everyone who’s been to a SheJumps event, knows our raffles are not to be missed! This summer we are grateful for the continued support of partners we’ve worked with already like Deuter, Hestra, Mountain Khakis, Rumpl, and Western Rise. We’re over the moon to bring new raffle partners as we announce working with Flylow, Orvis, She Emerges and Shredly.

Our raffle partners support SheJumps ability to bring outdoor education to communities across the country. These companies believe in creating opportunities for women of all ages and backgrounds to get outside and take a jump! We hope you win some of their sweet gear at our events, or look to them the next time you need an upgrade.


Deuter has been making packs since 1898. Even from the beginning, the company was built on technical function, precise fit, and passion for being in the wilderness. We’ve been making women’s packs for decades and believe in celebrating differences in women’s fit. Just as functional, just as radical, but with a fit that’s designed for women. Cheers to that! This summer, Deuter will be sending out packs to our mountain biking events.


Moab, Utah

Flylow has been a long supporter of SheJumps and we are excited to have them on our raffle roster! As SheJumps has been rolling out its new strategic plan, a major tenant is environmental stewardship and sustainability. That goes from reducing single use plastics to our events, to the decisions we make on our partnerships. We we read about Flylow’s Remnant Tote, we thought these would be perfect. The tote is made from fabric scraps from the production of their jackets and pants. Flylow is also including a Flylow Ecovessel and some sweet ski socks in their prize pack. Learn more about the Remnant Tote and the Flylow Spring line here.

Hestra Gloves

“Hestra is proud to support SheJumps and getting more girls and women involved in the outdoors and the activities that we love.”

Hestra Gloves is a family-owned company that was started in 1936. In the beginning, with the help of his family, Martin Magunusson produced gloves for the local lumberjacks. He used the best leathers he could find. Over 80 years later, the technical possibilities are greater, but Martin’s legacy lives on – warm, durable gloves made of the finest leathers.

Today, they make gloves for snow sports, mountaineering, biking, golf, dress, work, and gardening. Great care is taken in designing our women’s styles to specifically to fit a women’s hand. For Hestra, gloves will always be a craft.

Hestra is showcasing it’s new line of gloves for mountain biking at our events this summer.

Mountain Khakis

We are having a hard time picking our favorite Mountain Khakis items – from adventure ready pants and skirts, to jackets and cute beanies, to a wide array of adventure lifestyle wear. Lucky for us, we don’t have to! Mountain Khakis is donating $75 gift cards to events this summer.

“As the MK brand has evolved, so has the need to get everyone is comfortable and functional outdoor apparel. With this said, MK is proud to partner with SheJumps to help women and girls get outside! Education, knowledge and adventure are key functions of this partnership and we look forward to helping these folks reach their highest potential through the outdoors.”

Orvis 50/50 on the Water

SheJumps is excited to work with Orvis this summer at our Flyfishing events. Orvis will be supporting raffles and sending out swag from their 50/50 on the water campaign. We’re stoked on this campaign, as our events have long been trying to lower barriers for women in fly-fishing.

50/50 On the Water aims to inspire and celebrate women in the sport we all love. The campaign embodies three main goals: 1) making it easy for women to participate in the sport, 2) celebrating the unique connection between women and conservation and 3) showcasing authentic experiences of real women fly-fishing.

ORVIS commits to lowering barriers for women in fly-fishing by acknowledging safety concerns and instigating solutions like increased access to group excursions. Taking the mystery out of selecting gear and offering pathways to skill- & community-building will also provide greater confidence. More options for families and children will also be an important focus as ORVIS makes fly-fishing an easier sport for women to adopt. Finally, social media will be leveraged to foster a community of women anglers, providing a venue for addressing topics of interest on a consistent, grass-roots basis.


If you get yourself wrapped up in a RUMPL blanket you will literally never want to go without. From van life, to camping, to hammock time, Rumpl’s are the snuggliest thing going. Think your softest puffy jacket made into a blanket. Win one at an event or grab your own on their site.

She Emerges

She Emerges’ mission is to empower females to do the things they love and show the world their limitless potential. “We create lifestyle apparel that enables you to make a statement from your heart to the street and every adventure in between. Organizations like SheJumps embody the very spirit of our brand. Together we can inspire women and girls to challenge themselves, embrace new experiences, and create a sisterhood of strong females that lift each other up during a lifetime of unforgettable moments.”

Founder Nicole Hardy wanted to create a brand that ignited a feeling of confidence in every woman to fearlessly show the world what she’s made of.

“I spent 15 years in corporate America but always knew something was missing. She Emerges essentially was born during my journey of self-discovery and I wanted to inspire other women to live a life filled with purpose, excitement and fulfillment.”


Fun prints, great function, and a lot of attitude – that’s what we love about SHREDLY. This summer at our Mountain Biking events a lucky gal get’s to sass up her kit if she wins these shorts.

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.

“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

Western Rise

“At Western Rise, we value the preservation of our public lands and outdoor education. We are pleased to support the efforts of SheJumps female-focused Outdoor education programs.” -Kelly Waters

Western Rise’s Kelly Watters was named by Outside Magazine as one of the coolest new small brands. We’re grateful for Kelly’s support in our raffle program this summer. All mountain-town girls appreciate that fact that quality layers keep her warm, happy and active. Western Rise as donated 100$ gift cards at select events.