AGES: 18 and Older
One day, we envision this to be the final step in a journey that perhaps started for a young woman when she ‘JUMPED IN,’ and now, she is a full-on mountain woman making decisions on her own, knowing she got there by taking many small ‘jumps’ along the way.
We recommend an advanced skiing level—at least be able to negotiate all different kinds of snow and terrain—and also have a high level of physical stamina for hiking with a heavy pack-load all day long. Oh yeah.. and save some energy for dance parties on top of mountains too. We like to celebrate life!
Alpine Finishing School 2013, by Kate Hourihan
Photos by Emily Polar
On April 19th, eight women from places as diverse as Santa Fe, New Mexico to Seattle, WA convened on a heli-pad in Revelstoke, BC for the second annual SheJumps Alpine Finishing School (AFS). This course brought us together for many reasons. But as a week long ski-mountaineering intensive, we all came to advance our skills in the mountains. As participant Katy Hoover-Smoot put it, “I’ve really wanted to put myself in situations where I can learn more about alpinism and mountaineering, and begin to initiate my own decision making.” Of course, another draw of the course was something only an all-girls adventure could offer. AFS student Jamie Bobb appreciated a balance that females in this situation share: “It’s very rare that women in my rather small, almost microscopic community like to ‘get after it,’ so this was a great way to acquire new skills in an incredible backcountry environment while also remembering there are ladies out there who like to jump in and enjoy life…”
We arrived at the Selkirk Backcountry Lodge via helicopter. The beautiful two-story building sits high in a remote range of peaks and glaciers in interior British Columbia. A fresh blanket of snow welcomed our arrival. Only a 15-minute lodge orientation and we were skiing. The next several days were spent the same way—skiing thousands of vertical feet of good new snow and emphasizing hands-on coursework. And the week continued as such; in between laps on high alpine and glaciated terrain, we learned everything from navigation to rope skills, and got plenty of practice time with ice axes and crampons. Evenings were filled with more coursework, hearty meals, and just hanging around getting to know one another.
ACMG guide Anne Keller led the course with help from ACMG Assistant Ski Guide Kate Devine and long time NOLS instructor, Michelle Smallman. Selkirk Lodge owner Grania Devine and SheJumps Executive Director Claire Smallwood also spent the week with us, meaning there was no shortage of inspiring women in our midst. Our group’s experience varied from first-timers in glaciated terrain to experienced ski mountaineers looking to hone their skills. But no matter where we came from, we all walked away from the week with new and refreshed skills, as well as memories that only an all-women’s trip deep in the mountains can bring you. Julie Youngblood, recipient of the SheJumps Alpine Finishing School scholarship, summed it up nicely, “Not only did I get to participate in the course, surrounded by amazing guides and breathtaking backcountry, but I gained a new network of friends who I know I can call and rely on for the rest of my life.”
CURRENT ALPINE SCHOOL:
Current Date: April 18-25 2015
Selkirk Backcountry Lodge (http://www.selkirklodge.ca)
The 2015 Alpine Finishing School will be held April 18-25th at the Selkirk Lodge. We are still finalizing details for this, including a scholarship to be offered in Liz Daley’s honor. Please check back here and on our social media channels for more information in the coming weeks. (updated 11/20/14)
The Alpine Finishing School is an all-women’s ski mountaineering course taught by Diny Harrison, the first North American female to be certified as an IFMGA guide. This course is an opportunity for advanced skiers to learn the skills of big-mountain backcountry skiing in a supportive and encouraging environment. Topics covered included glacier travel, crevasse rescue, avalanche safety, route planning, and navigation. This course was founded by ACMG guide Anne Keller.
Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Diny Harrison was the first North American woman to become an internationally certified mountain guide in 1992. Her IFMGA guiding career has since taken her from her home in the Canadian Rockies to Alaska, Morocco and Argentina. Did we mention the European Alps in there as well? From teaching mountaineering camps for Thompson River University in British Columbia and avalanche courses for the Canadian Avalanche Association, Diny also worked for 17 years as a heli-ski guide for CMH (Canadian Mountain Holidays). Presently working as a lead guide for Mustang Powder Cat skiing in the winter, she resides in the lovely Revelstoke, BC. Obviously a fan of sliding on snow with skis, Diny is also an avid climber and mountain biker and has a new passion of kitesurfing–often travelling worldwide to fuel this lifetime of adventure!
Diny has served on the Canadian Avalanche Association board of directors and was the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides president from 2003-2006. We are honored to have her as an instructor for the 2014 SheJumps Alpine Finishing School.
Kate Devine: ACMG Assistant Ski Guide
Kate Devine was born into a mountain lifestyle. Her family owns Selkirk Backcountry Lodge near Revelstoke, BC. She started ski touring as a kid with her parents and went on to pursue a guiding career. Passing her first guides exam at 24, Kate is a great role model for young, independent mountain women. She has been teaching for the Alpine Finishing School since its inception and brings an amazing amount of experience to the course. She has an incredibly thorough knowledge of the terrain surrounding the lodge and is passionate about sharing it with people from all over the world.