Hey ladies why not challenge yourselves with an awesome Elevate Women’s Camp at Jackson Hole, America’s most challenging resort?
Rhylla Morgan signed up for the Elevate Women’s Camp last winter and discovered a new side of Jackson Hole and herself.
One of my resolutions this year was to get a bit more badass. Not necessarily wrestle a crocodile or build my own cabin in the bush (although that is on the list for 2018), but step things up.
Luckily for me I started the New Year in one the best possible places in the world to unfurl this plan, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. To top it off, I managed to do so in the midst of a deep and stormy winter, when wave after wave of snow had been rolling through.
Very few people simply become badass on their own however, so it makes sense to get some help from those who are already further along the scale, and who are willing to help you, like the coaches running Jackson Hole’s Elevate Women’s Camp.
It’s 8AM on a bluebird morning and I join my fellow campers stamping like horses in a crisp -20C at the Jackson Hole resort base. The Tetons loom over us. Everyone is friendly and most are a little nervous. We met the night before over some welcome drinks in the Four Seasons, but of course we barely recognise anyone now we all have helmets on. Suddenly we are on the gondola thanks to our early-up privileges soaring high into the sunshine, already swapping stories and introductions in our small group of five. We hail from between the East Coast US, Jackson Hole and Australia.
The coaches have grouped us according to the survey we completed based on our ski level and how hard we want to push ourselves. To make sure we’re in the right groups we all do a ‘ski off’ down a steep but perfectly groomed run. It’s daunting but surprisingly not as scary as you’d expect. We’ve all just met but there’s already plenty of stoke, encouragement and cheering one another on.
The mantra of the week is “It’s your camp. It’s all about what you want to achieve, not about anyone else.”
The group dynamic is a bonus as there is always someone at a different stage than you – she wants to nail bumps, you might just want to work out how to not have an anxiety attack when you see them!
My legs are a little sulky after the long first day but I am fired up. This morning sees us back on the early gondola before most of Jackson Hole has downed their first coffee.
Later in the day we are told we’ll be riding the tram. You can almost smell the badass on the tram. It’s dialed to 11. No pussies here. Certainly none Donald Trump would dare to grab. You press in against people wearing harnesses and beacons, with fat skis and backcountry packs.
For me today is all about riding the bumps instead of having them ride me. Yes, I eject from my skis. More than once.
I take deep breaths and remind myself, “If you’re not falling you’re not trying”.
The highlight is riding with Paralympic medallist Lacey Heward. If anyone could inspire us to pull up our big girl pants and get on with it, it was Lacey. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone more positive, more present. She is fizzing about her first ride up Jackson’s famous red tram. And wow, she can ski. Sitting down, on one ski a foot or so off the ground. She speaks about commitment and about pointing it down the hill.
Seeing her take on a bumps run is something I’ll never forget. It was something I was struggling with, because I wasn’t committing. I was scared. Watching Lacey point and send it, making it look easy as she did, all on a sitski, was amazing.
At the end of the day Lacey gives a talk and even sings a few songs for us. She’s getting into song writing now she’s finished on the winter paralympics competition circuit! I mentally add Lacey to my list of ‘badass’ mentors.
It’s a rest day. I wake up and my knee is looking like a dropped pie so it is heaven to have a sleep in and rest up.
After a really good coffee in the General Store I see Nate at Jackson Hole Mountain Sports for some boot work. It transpires part of my battle is stemming from my feet, which are sliding around inside my boots. New footbeds and a few tweaks and I’m excited for the second half of the camp.
It’s snowed overnight and our early lift access means we get incredible runs on a dreamy few inches of fresh powder. There is hooting and hollering as we feast on Wyoming ‘cowboy powder’. My cheeks hurt, I’m grinning like a loon.
Today we have a video analysis session. Of course, I manage a yard sale crash on camera. Good to know I’ve nailed my spot in the blooper reel. At the end of the day we go over our footage. It’s so helpful to see what we are doing, and in my case review my fall frame by glorious frame.
More fresh snow. It’s a dream day and our reward is to spend it rallying around the mountain going to great spots with our instructor. She peppers in helpful tips, we sneak in a few more exercises on our side slips and rolling over drop offs. We cheer one another through terrain I realise I’d have not even attempted a few days earlier.
Time for a shower before our final celebration dinner at the beautiful Terra Hotel in the village. Big round tables and even bigger smiles fill the room. The highlight is the camp video where we all have a few moments of fame and get to see what all the other groups have been doing all week.
We share a shot-ski and are all planning our next trip. Camp has only made us keen to learn more.
WHY DO ELEVATE WOMEN’S CAMP at Jackson Hole?
• It’s a great way to commit to do something for your own skiing.
• The best souvenirs you can have from a ski trip are some new skills and a serious confidence boost.
• A whole week of your own coach, your own ski posse and permission to make your skiing a priority – that is golden.
• You’ll meet locals, you’ll make new friends from around the world and you’ll discover parts of the mountain you’d never come across on your own.
• It’s really good value for a week of instruction, lunches and fabulous final dinner.
Also, with La Niña back they are predicting another huge snow season following last year’s record breaker at Jackson Hole.