On Thursday 11/3/16, Spokane SheJumps hosted its second annual Avalanche Awareness Clinic in partnership with Gonzaga Outdoors and Gonzaga University. SheJumps partnered up with local avalanche experts at IPAC (our local avalanche center) and Idaho Panhandle Backcountry, an organization that promotes local backcountry skiing and splitboarding. I always look forward to this clinic because it’s women-specific, it’s fun and educational, and avalanche safety is something close to my heart. I love collaborating on anything like this that will help get people educated about the risks as well as the rewards of travelling in the backcountry. Contrary to popular belief, our avalanche clinic is designed to encourage ladies to get out in the backcountry, not just scare them to death about its potential dangers. It’s designed more to educate and inspire so those travelling in the backcountry can make the right calls, have a great day with friends, and come home safely. It’s actually something I discussed with Kjerstin Bell at Fox 28 News when she interviewed me on live television just days prior to the event.
That’s right, our clinic got the attention of the local news and garnered a tremendous amount of support from local and national sponsors. Avalanche safety is a hot topic right now and support of avalanche education spans across all kinds of interests, both locally and nationally. Where we live in the Pacific Northwest, it’s something that affects all of us. It’s also another reason why I stress that this clinic is not only educational, it’s FUN! It’s fun because sponsors donate goodie bags and throw down gear and prizes each year and help make it one of the best raffles in town!
As always, at our SheJumps events our national sponsors at Treeline Coffee Roasters, Munk Pack, and Eco Lips hooked up the first 10 ladies who registered with swag bags full of their goodies!
Kind Snacks also came to our event and set up a table full of their latest snacks for everyone to sample and take home. A few lucky winners in our raffle also walked away with a couple boxes of Kind bars to help fuel their backcountry adventures this season!
There were so many special moments at this year’s avalanche clinic but one of my favorite things about this year is the sheer number of young people and families who attended – it really surprised me (in the best possible way). SheJumps events are women-specific and are geared towards increasing the engagement of young girls and women in outdoor pursuits. That being said, we had so much interest in this avalanche clinic that I had to elucidate that SheJumps events are not made to be exclusive but rather they are inclusive. Everyone should have the opportunity to become more knowledgeable and safe in the backcountry and that’s what this night was ultimately about. We had dads bring daughters, moms brought sons, and wives brought husbands and it made for one remarkable night!
Just like last year, we had local splitboarder and backcountry expert Larry Banks from Panhandle Backcountry instructing at our clinic. Panhandle Backcountry is an organization promoting backcountry skiing and splitboarding in North Idaho, Eastern Washington and Northwestern Montana (check them out online, it’s a great hub of local resources). We also had skier Kevin Davis, the previous Director of IPAC (Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center), joining us again but with some new and exciting changes at the center: he brought with him fellow instructor, Jeff Thompson, who is now the new Director at IPAC This year! Another exciting change to our clinic is that we had Angie Nyland join us as an instructor this year. Angie also works at IPAC, is a ski patroller at Schweitzer Mountain, and she is a huge SheJumper who supports our local efforts here. We were very fortunate to have such a diverse amount of local backcountry knowledge all collected in one room.
It was inspiring to see how seriously attendees took this clinic and how responsive people were to the materials and videos presented. For many, this was their first exposure to the curriculum but we also had return attendees from last year’s clinic who brought someone new with them this year. There was a great deal of note-taking going on and excellent questions were asked after students had a chance to warm up to the eye-opening amount of new information.
Attendees also got the opportunity to see and demonstrate the use of avalanche safety gear which was really fun! Thanks to Jeff, we learned (and saw and heard) how a Recco search device works and learned from Larry about the different kinds of beacons, shovels, and probes available and where to purchase them. Local shredder Macy even demonstrated for us how to properly use an avalanche airbag!
Oh yeah, and did I mention that we also had a SWEET RAFFLE? Because we did.
We received a prodigious amount of support for our raffle from these amazing local businesses: The Sports Creel, Wild Walls, Spokane Alpine Haus, Sneva MFG Skis, Fitness Fanatics, Barre at the Studio, Physical Therapy Associates, Farm Girl Fit, Spokane Public Facilities District, TicketsWest, Fourth Avenue Chiropractic, SOLE, IPAC, Panhandle Backcountry, Gonzaga Outdoors, Gonzaga University, and Longleaf Wilderness Medicine.
We also received a received an extraordinary amount of support and prizes from our national and international sponsors at Outdoor Research, GNU, Mervin Manufacturing, Genuine Guide Gear (G3), Arbor, Tailgate Industries, One-Ball, Spark R&D, Warren Miller Entertainment, Athleta, and Kind Snacks! There were bags, jackets, ski and snowboard wax, goggles, shirts, and even a splitboard with unicorns on it (thanks GNU!) that were raffled off! Proceeds of the event went to SheJumps.org to aid in keeping our youth events free and a portion of proceeds also benefited our local avalanche center (IPAC) so they can continue to help keep us all safe in the backcountry!
Finally, the most special moment for me personally was when we gave away the Kip Rand Scholarship. This scholarship provides the recipient with a free youth AIARE 1 avalanche certification course and it was created and donated by SOLE (Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education) in honor of Kip Rand, an amazing individual and HeJumper gave so much to our outdoor community. Kip taught our SheJumps/SOLE collaboration AIARE Course last year and he tragically passed away this spring.
It’s a very special scholarship and who better to win it than local SheJumper and Schweitzer Mountain celebrity Sierra “Skirra” Ullman. It was the perfect ending to a memorable evening of community and education.
If you’d like to learn more about what an amazing individual Kip was and the Kip Rand Scholarship, please visit this site.
Photography Credits: Danika Pariseau
These events don’t just happen on their own, they are a partnership of extraordinary efforts, as you have seen. I can’t say thank you enough to our instructors who donated their time and drove hours to be there, our sponsors for their generosity and support of our event and raffle, and especially to our volunteers who give energetically to SheJumps to make it all come together – you know who you are. Because of all of you we had several women pledge that they would take the next step and get their AIARE Level 1 certification this year! Our next local SheJumps event is a women-specific AIARE 1 that will be taught once again in collaboration with SOLE on January 20th-22nd, 2017 in Libby, Montana. You can learn more about the course here.
BIG Thanks to our sponsors!