Chile? But You Know Its Not Winter, Right?

For the first time in my (almost) 30 years, I’m leaving winter in pursuit of summer. In some ways, its a strange feeling. But since this trip has purpose I find myself not the least bit mournful of the month of Utah’s winter I’m about to miss. The smog and lack of recent snowfall make my departure even easier. Alas, I hope the snow does fall in excess while I’m gone, and when I’m back you can feel free to buy me a beer during aprés for taking one for the team.

Shots? Check. Packed? Check? Chilean wine tasting?  Well, Duh ;)

Shots? Check. Packed? Check? Chilean wine tasting? Well, Duh ;)

But wait. Why AM I going to Chile in January? I know I’ve referenced this trip time and again on Facebook over the last couple of months, so I guess I shouldn’t keep everyone in the dark! Through my job working at the Patagonia Outlet in SLC I was able to apply for an Environmental Internship offered through Patagonia’s Environmental Department. I was able to select any Environmental Nonprofit around the world to volunteer with, and if the store is able to cover my shifts while I’m gone and my application is accepted, I’m in! While there are probably thousands of groups I would want to work with, I was drawn to Conservacion Patagonica, founded by Kris Tompkins.  Kris worked for Yvon Chouinard in the early years of the development of the company Patagonia, eventually becoming the CEO.  She, along with Yvon and her husband Doug Tompkins, fell in love with Patagonia and responded to a need they saw for the conservation of its amazing ecosystems.  For more about this story, click here…and also be sure to watch to documentary 180 Degrees South!

I can’t say it wasn’t a bit of work to apply to both Patagonia and Conservacion Patagonica, but I know its going to be worth all the effort, planning and money I put in. Being a Patagonia employee is what made it possible, because for these internships the company pays you for the time you’re gone as if you were still at work! In case I haven’t told you yet, I work for a GREAT company:).

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it is I’ll be doing. I could be pulling out fences that have fragmented the landscape, removing invasive plants or building trails…really I and the group of people I’m volunteering with will spend 3 weeks doing whatever is needed to help get the NEW Patagonia National Park ready to open by December of 2014.  Volunteering is organized in 3 week sessions, and I’ll be working with others who applied with Conservacion who are from all around the world. Our group has been in touch by email, and I’ve connected with some on Facebook, sharing our plans and tips for travel. I’m incredibly excited to meet everyone and embark on this new adventure which I’m sure will fly by! After 3 weeks of volunteering I’m taking almost a week of vacation to do a little exploring of my own. I’m trying my best not to have too many expectations or a schedule, other than to HAVE FUN and appreciate every day. I don’t know what kind of internet access there will be, but I’ve decided to leave my laptop behind.  And once I leave the Dallas airport this evening the SIM card is coming put of my phone…so feel free to follow my blog or keep an eye on Facebook and I’ll share updates as I’m able!  Thank you so much to all of you who have given me support and advice through this adventure called life.

This is one of those trips where I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I have this feeling that I’ll be changed by it.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Skiing & Trees

Skiing and trees…two things that are very near and dear to my heart. My identity is most often tied to being a skier or an environmentalist. Or even a tree hugger. Fortunately for me, Utah is a great place to be both of these things.

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Most of us are aware that Utah is well known for its skiing, largely due to the legendary feet upon feet of fluffy white powder that piles up in the mountains each winter. But how about trees? When is the last time you saw an advertisement touting ‘the greatest trees on earth’? If that ad does exist, its more than likely that the great state of Utah doesn’t make the cut. But not being ‘known’ for something certainly doesn’t mean it lacks significance or importance! Trees, its turns out, are of the utmost importance in Utah for many reasons. Oxygen anyone? [It doesn't suck. (haha! That's what I wanna say, but won't) No matter your beliefs or interests, you can't really make a valid anti-tree argument. -remove] Shade from the desert sun, water and air filtration, food, and increased property value are just a few benefits, and if you head over to the TreeUtah website you’ll find many more environmental, social and economic benefits of trees. TreeUtah is the only non-profit of its kind serving the entire state of Utah through its mission to increase the quality of life for present and future generations by enhancing the environment through tree planting, stewardship and education.

Alta Ski Area shares TreeUtah’s sentiment about the incredible importance of trees. Ski resorts and towns with somewhat precarious locations such as Alta, have unique perspectives regarding the vital roles of trees. A look into the history of Little Cottonwood Canyon reveals a dramatic relationship between humans and trees. Wood was needed by settlers for construction, fuel, and mining. But the mountains needed the trees to hold the soil and snow in place. It was a hard lesson to learn as the town of Alta was destroyed by monstrous avalanches numerous times, and even with trees now largely reestablished, avalanches remain an ominous seasonal player in this mountain soap opera. But since the establishment of Alta Ski Area in 1938, trees have new found importance out on the slopes. If you have ever gone out skiing down an open bowl in the midst of a snow storm, you know what I’m talking about. With the passing of time there are now other threats facing the trees of Little Cottonwood Canyon and around Utah. If you care about skiing, we suggest that you care about trees as well.

IMG_0504In recognition of the value of both skiing and trees, Alta Ski Area is hosting a fundraiser for TreeUtah on Friday, December 6th, 2013. TreeUtah invites you to join us on the slopes to consider how trees help us live, work and play! We will start the morning with a fun pre-public skiing session at 8am to be followed by breakfast on mountain at Watson’s Shelter. Before spending the rest of the day skiing at your leisure, we will feature a provocative panel discussion with forestry and tree experts, which will wrap up around 11am. What is the state of Utah’s forest? How do trees effect your business or personal life?

A single ticket is only $50 if purchased by Friday, November 29th (a $185 value!). That price will rise to $75 on Saturday, November 30th. You or your business can also consider being an event sponsor. 100% of proceeds will go directly to TreeUtah!

RSVP and invite others on Facebook, and buy tickets HERE.

For more information on event sponsorship please contact me at volunteer@treeutah.org or by calling (801) 364-2122.

 

A Way of Being

Wow.  It has been so long since I’ve blogged!  Well, for my own site at least.  Most of my time over the last year has been spent between SheJumps, TreeUtah, Patagonia, and trying to have a life:).  So here’s a little something I wrote for SheJumps about my great experiences gained in recent years.

Find it on SheJumps.org or scroll down here!

Loving life, loving Alta, loving trees:)

Loving life, loving Alta, loving trees:)

SheJumps is so much more than a name, and more than an organization to me.  It is a way of living.  A way of being.  I was a jumper long before the nonprofit existed, as were so many of us.  We were lucky to have the passion and drive that saw SheJumps into true manifestation, already living inside us.  The wonderful founders started talking about a vision out loud…and the rest is history.  There must be millions of girls and women around the world who also share this passionate zest for life and have never heard of SheJumps.  Many never will.  I feel so fortunate to have become a part of this amazing community, and it has been one of my passions to share this organization and its inspiring mission with as many of those millions as possible.  I am a better human being because of SheJumps, and because of all the amazing ladies I have met along the way.
 My name is Hannah.  I have been involved with SheJumps since 2007 when I met Claire Smallwood on the US Freeskiing Tour.  It would take far too long to share the many stories along the way that led me to be more involved with the chapter here in Utah.  Mostly what I want to share is that the growth and challenge that happened over the last 6+ years has been inspiring on so many levels.  Easy?  No.  Laughter.  Tears.  Moments of epiphany.  Some of defeat…which never last long!  Strength.  Blood.  Truth.  Frustration.  Exaltation.  Friendship.  Worth it?  Every.Single.Moment.  We all experience life differently.  Embracing those differences can allow us to gain so much more from the experiences and opportunities along the way.  Will we always see things eye to eye?  Will I get along with everyone I meet?  Of course not.  But I still strive to appreciate each person I meet for who they are and the potential they have to share with me and the world.  SheJumps helped teach me some of these things.  All of this has made it so hard to take a step back from my heavy involvement at the Regional Director in Utah.  But not doing so also would have been counter to what I’ve learned.  I will always be a SheJumper.  And I have taken my now better self forward toward fulfilling my passion for giving back to the earth that gives so much to me.
Most people that know me, know I’m a bit of a passionate environmentalist, ‘tree hugger’, or whatever you want to call me.  Again, I could go on and on about my thoughts and feelings about caring for the earth.  About my fears and my visions of hope.  And someday, hopefully you do hear more from me.  But for now lets just agree that the earth is amazing, just as humans and other creatures are amazing.  I personally hope to continue working toward a career that gives back to the earth.  Currently I’m doing this by working for the wonderful clothing company Patagonia, AND by not only being a tree hugger, but a tree planter with the non-profit TreeUtah.  As TreeUtah’s volunteer coordinator I draw both on my schooling in Ecology and Environmental Science and the many personal and professional skills I learned with SheJumps.  I love sharing my passion with others so involving volunteers (and recruiting friends) is a perfect outlet for me!  With help from our small TreeUtah staff, Alta Ski Area and the Alta Environmental Center I recently organized almost 130 volunteers to plant 2,400 little trees all around Alta.  It was a wonderful and challenging day.  Each time I have a moment of triumph like this planting, I am reminded of the great influence SheJumps had in getting me to that place.  I hope that each day I might in turn inspire and positively influence someone else.  Not necessarily to be like me, but to be themselves.  Embrace your passions.  Embrace your fears.  Embrace what makes you unique.  Embrace challenges and embrace life!  Be a SheJumper.  Or a HeJumper?  Absolutely.  Just be you and be an open book so you can become the best version of you possible.  Just a few thoughts from someone who is still learning…and I hope I never stop!

Connected: A Social Media Nightmare?

In some ways I feel like a slacker having not blogged at all in over a year. But then I think, well DUH, you were too busy! If I’d wanted to or been able to make it a priority, I would have. And I really enjoy a lot of the stories that my friends post regularly. Maybe I haven’t had things I felt were worth sharing…but mostly I think I was just going through some life transitions and was focused elsewhere. Granted I spend plenty of time posting on Facebook for myself and SheJumps. I manage to fit in so many fun activities that once I do have a chance, I want to share them with people! And of course it benefits me as an athlete, and SheJumps, as a marketing tool. Really there’s reason for it all…all this social media. Connecting to one another here, there and everywhere. It can be used and abused, appreciated and loathed.

I’ve decided to say, to each their own! As long as we all know to take resposibility for what we decide to share with the world. In my opinion, things get a little too personal online sometimes. But then again I’m sure I’ve posted things that others might feel that way about. Nonetheless, I’m not ready to bail on blogging OR Facebook quite yet! Although I do sometimes envy those of you who have avoided Facbook…

Rosneft Sochi 2014 Olympic Commercial in Silverton, Colorado.

Yes, its true.  I can now add something to my resume that I never would have expected.  I’ve been in a commercial for the Olympic Games.  Granted, my sport of big mountain skiing is not an Olympic sport…but I certainly didn’t mind!  My boyfriend Kyle Sul and I joined our friends Suzanne Graham and Jesse Hall for our first skiing adventure to Silverton Mountain, Colorado.  Suz and Jesse were brought in as the primary stunt doubles for the commercial, as they wanted to have a Ski BASE to top off the excitement.  Kyle and I were invited pretty last minute as back up stunt doubles, and of course it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up!  We drove from our home base of Salt Lake City Utah down through the beautiful San Juan Mountains, picked up a hitch hiker in Ouray, and made it to the small town of Silverton, Colorado.

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Right off the bat we had all of the logos on our gear covered in black gaffers tape and were given outfits that made us almost identical to Jesse and Suz.  Then we settled in for a night of sleep in our very pink and supposedly haunted Grand Imperial Hotel.  It was super exciting to meet the crew from Warren Miller Entertainment and Adore Creative and get the run down for the week.  It was all about the race and the chase!  Kind of an “anything you can do I can do better” theme!

The 3 days to follow were a whirlwind of filming chase scenes with big cameras mounted to our chests or Cineflex helicopters overhead, jumping off cliffs, battling the weather and avalanche danger, drinking rum at the Montanya Rum Distillery, smiling, laughing, getting the shots, and TRYING to get enough sleep!  Our guides were fun and amazing, but also all about keeping us safe…which of course included making sure we made it safely to the rum bar each night:)  Kyle, Jesse, and Suz are all BASE jumpers so I’ve been on quite a few BASE adventures with them.  However, Jesse jumping out of a heli with his skis on was a new one!  His Ski BASE went great but we didn’t get to watch it in person.  On our last day of filming we had to make a big sweeping turn, then ski at one another and try to grab hands and spin in a circle…without ripping each other’s arm off if possible!  When you watch the final product you’ll see why we had to do this strange shot, because we magically turn into figure skaters!  We even got heli rides to film these hand holding segments!  Check out the ad AND the behind the scenes excitement!

Watch for the Blizzard tornado logo on the ski bases to know if its me or Kyle!

Exciting, right!  All in all it was great times for 4 good friends who love skiing.  We celebrated Kyle’s 26th birthday on our last night in Silverton.  Then we enjoyed the beautiful vapor caves and hot springs in Ouray, lunch in Telluride, and got a hotel in Moab.  Watching the three amigos BASE jump Tombstone in Moab the next morning just finished our trip off perfectly!  Thank you to everyone who made this adventure possible!  The season isn’t over yet…

Women of Skiing

I was very excited this past fall when I was invited to be a part of an online series for Skiing Magazine called Women of Skiing.  The first of these stories was Women of Jackson Hole, and it saw incredible success.  My friends and fellow competitors Crystal Wright, Lynsey Dyer, and Jess McMillan were part of the success of those articles and I was honored to follow in their footsteps!

Articles like this sometimes bring up opinions about women, specifically female athletes, showing some skin in photos or on the silver screen.  I think that some of this comes from the fact that we want to see female athletes as role models to younger generations.  Some say that showing skin, or sexualizing yourself, is not setting a healthy example to younger ladies who look up to you.  You can imagine from my segment as a ‘Woman of Alta’, that I do not feel that taking a photo without all of my clothes on takes away from my ability to be a role model.   Being a role model is very important to me, and I am very proud to be a part of the non-profit SheJumps which allows me to connect with so many amazing females.  These female inspire me, and I hope I do the same for them.  To me, my photo and many others in this Women of Skiing series, show female strength, beauty and independence more than sexuality.  Attractive?  Yes.  I think just about anything can be turned into something sexual.  But you certainly do not need to take off or put on anything you’re uncomfortable with in order to be beautiful.  As cheesy as it sounds, I personally think it’s mostly important to be true to yourself.   Whether this puts you on the same page as me or not, that’s just fine.  I certainly know that not everyone will agree with me.

There is so much more I could say on this subject, but its one that will continue to be debated.  I’d really like to know what other females out there think.  Whether you’re an athlete, a mother, or someone who looks up to female athletes, I know there is a lot to hear!  You can find an awesome forum for all kind of discussions with other ladies who love the outdoors at the SheJumps Clubhouse.  Its a female only network so I hope you’ll create a profile and connect with SheJumps!

Hannah hits A-Frame in Patagonia!

Like the captions says, I was eyeing up A-Frame for a while.  Granted I’d hit it a time or two before but I wanted to go bigger!  For those of you who don’t know, A-Frame is an aptly named cliff in the Rocky Point area of the Alta sidecountry.  Its a very popular spot since its easy to get to and there are a few good sized, low risk cliffs to hit.  The freaky thing about A-Frame is its blind take-off…its like a ramp into space!  But once you hit it and land in a poof of powder, you’re stoked!  Thanks to Re Wikstrom for getting this great shot!