top of page

Alpine Finishing School 2024 presented by Arc'teryx

Each year, the Selkirk Lodge joins together women to heighten their skills and confidence in the high alpine backcountry.


Photo: Louisa B.

East of Revelstoke, beneath the rocky peaks of the Selkirk Mountains, is a small wooden lodge perched just above the tree line at 7,200 feet (2,000 meters). Known as the Selkirk Lodge, it's equipped with a deck perfectly positioned to take in the views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.


Established in 1986, the business has been a family-run affair - in 2019, it passed ownership from Grania Devine to daughter Kate Devine. Kate grew up ski touring and hiking the surrounding terrain with her family as a kid and became a fully-certified ACMG Ski Guide in 2014. 


For over a decade, the Selkirk Lodge has served as the home base for Alpine Finishing School, a SheJumps program presented by Arc'teryx. Participants' first introduction to the lodge is from the seat of a helicopter as they crest over mountain ridges. It’s the first glimpse of the remote corner of the Selkirks before touching down for the week. 



Photos: Sarah Foster, Louisa B.


Alpine Finishing School education-based ski mountaineering program teaches advanced technical and leadership skills for skiers and splitboarders traveling through high alpine environments. Claire Smallwood and Anne Keller spearheaded the idea in the spring of 2012, with Kate’s involvement in the program beginning at the same time as an apprentice ski guide. Since, Kate’s joined as an ACMG ski guide each following year along with fellow ACMG guides Christine Feleki and Shannon Werner. 


“I love seeing women progress throughout the week and become more confident in themselves out there…It's just fulfilling work I love,” said Kate. “I really believe in the program.” 


Photo: Louisa B.
Photo: Ali Shuparski

At Alpine Finishing School, instructors go over route-planning and decision-making in challenging and complex terrain in ever-changing weather patterns. There’s a strong emphasis on giving participants the correct tools and guidance they need to decide their course of action in the backcountry, which differs from guiding, in which the guide makes the majority of the decisions. 


“We often see them, over the years, progressing through their careers as skiers,” said Kate. “Some of them have definitely taken it to quite a high level, and while I don’t believe SheJumps should be credited for all of that, I like to think that we were at least a positive part of that journey, which is pretty cool.”



Photos: Sarah Foster, Louisa B.


For Vanessa Chavarriaga Posada, the course offered an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and into a leadership position in the mountains. She had previously taken her Avy 1 with SheJumps in the Tetons through the Snowpack Scholarship


“This course left me feeling inspired by the community of women breaking into leadership in snow sports,” she said. “It's encouraging to be around such an amazing crew and be able to put my guard down as I am not trying to prove myself. It feels good to belong in a space.”


Vanessa noted that the Alpine Finishing School was one of her first times being in big mountain terrain where the group worked together, and did not compete, against one another. “This allowed me to feel much safer, ask questions, be curious, and have more fun,” she added. 


Photos: Sarah Foster, Brittany Peterson


This year, the program took place from April 20-27th under the ever-changing conditions of a warm spring snowpack. Hot days with above-freezing temperatures, coupled with snow overnight led to interesting avalanche and ski conditions. 


“I feel like an inside joke came out of it. We were always like, pivot!, because we’d create this plan in the morning, change it, then halfway through a tour change again,” said Ali Shuparski, another of the participants in this year’s Alpine Finishing School. She noted that as a group, they’d learn with every pivot made. 


“Learning from women is always just such a different space, it's so much more open, you can ask what you think might be a silly question and it’s taken very sincerely,” Ali added. “I feel like I went in with such impostor syndrome. And after coming out of it I thought, wow, I shouldn't have felt that.”



Photos: Ali Shuparski, Louisa B.


Ali also works with Indigenous Women Outdoors (originally called Tá7elnexwtway), an organization founded by Myia Antone that reconnects Indigenous women and youth to the land and water through outdoor recreation. 


“She [Myia] saw the gap to try to get indigenous women out on their own lands to bring back healing through recreation,” said Ali. “And now, the programming branches from backcountry skiing to hiking to trail running to snowshoeing and mountain biking…It’s great to kind of reconnect to your heritage.”


She noted that at Indigenous Women Outdoors, many of the mentees become mentors, with the goal of creating leadership positions for Indigenous women in the outdoors. 


“It’s a great program…It’s been really nice learning culturally, in a safe space, while recreating in very male-dominated industries,” said Ali. “The power and commitment of so many of these Indigenous women to bring communities back is pretty incredible.” 


Photo: Guru Larson
Photo: Rhonda Thygesen

In 2025, SheJumps is excited to continue the partnership with Selkirk Lodge and Arc'teryx for its twelfth year of Alpine Finishing School and is looking forward to how this year’s participants will use their skills and knowledge in the mountains. SheJumps also recently launched the Ski Suite, a leadership and personal development course based in the backcountry. Want to be the first to know when registration opens for these popular events? Make sure to join our newsletter! (We always announce there first!)


 

SheJumps increases the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. Partnering with nature, SheJumps creates educational outdoor experiences for girls and women that nurture growth and transformation. SheJumps is an inclusive organization. We welcome all women and girls—transgender and cisgender, as well as non-binary people.

98 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page