Thursday, December 6, 2012

Super Sally Celebration

I’ll never forget the day fellow Babe Force member Sarah Felton called asking if I had heard anything about an accident on Once is Enough, a gnarly line on the backside of Cody Peak in the Jackson Hole backcountry. It was a warm, sunny Saturday around noon, and I was just getting ready to head to Village. At first, it didn’t sink it. But, as Sarah kept speaking, she said the rumor was that it was a woman in her 20s.
Immediately, I knew it was you.

After calling Don and Kendall to see if anyone had heard from you, Patrick or the Jeff’s, they both assured me—and themselves—that you guys were all good. It was hot, so it just must have been taking a long time to skin back from the Martini Chutes two canyons over from the Resort.

Reality set in, however, and by that afternoon, we were by your side in your Idaho Falls, ID ICU room.
More than eight months have passed since that day, and not a day has gone by where I don’t think of you and wonder what you did on that particular day to impress the doctors, family and friends. It all takes me back to when I first met you at The Meeting a few years ago. Immediately, we were friends. When you moved to Jackson in February, I couldn’t believe we had never actually skied together, only partying at random ski industry events where our almost identical worlds often collided. To say I was stoked to add to my skier girl posse would be giant understatement.

Now, you’re here, back in Jackson for a party in your honor this Saturday evening at the Pink Garter. The entire community is behind you and looking forward to supporting the organizations—Jackson Hole Ski Patrol, Teton County Search & Rescue and High Fives—who have helped you and continue to help you.

Cheers to your continued incredible recovery, Sal! The dance parties commence this Saturday!

<3 Julie W

Friday, November 9, 2012


I am really excited to announce that myself, Kim Havell, Jess Mcmillan and Karissa Tuthill are coming out with a short film called Hecuba, "she walks purposefully." When I first thought of the Jackson Hole Babe Force it was in relation to not having very many women in films and seeing all the Jackson ladies ripping and pushing themselves. I have always looked up to all the Jackson Hole Air Force guys since I was a kid and always wondered why there not very many women part of the group, so I decided we should have our girls club. We had our first Babe Force ski day last winter and 40 women showed up! It was so awesome to see so many good skiers/snowboarders of all ages ripping around with one big group! As women in a sport dominated by men it is sometimes hard for us to excel and we feel more intimidated by big terrain. Over the last 5 years I have seen the women's level of skiing increase dramatically depending on what they are skiing everyone is pushing their ability in the sport. This goes from the competitive big mountain scene to the ladies of Jackson pushing their limits on a difficult mountain.

Hecuba Teaser from Apr├Ęs Visuals on Vimeo.

The other 3 ladies that I am working with on this project are all inspiring to me in different ways and when Karissa who is cofounder of Apres Visuals came to me wanting to make a film telling a story about skiing and our link to the sport, I thought it was such an awesome idea. Karissa was  my first Babe Force patch recipients and she is one of the more inspiring women I have ever met and is always pushing the limits. I watched her throw a back flip in her second big mountain competition ever, she did not land it, but had such a smile on her face when she came through the finish. (so awesome!) She is always so stoked to ski and be with all the ladies. We all have known each other, but have known skiing differently and it has inspired us in different ways.

Karissa and I. I do drink bigger beers oops..
Jess I gave my second patch to, we grew up together and have always had a sisterly relationship and been pretty competitive, but I have always looked up to her in so many ways and she has always been there for me in competition on and off the hill. We both were on the podium together last year in Revelstoke, it was so awesome to be up there with her and she was more excited for me than I was!

Jess and I on the podium in Revelstoke!

Kim is my newest friend in the group, she is also one I have looked up to from afar and when we finally met I felt that we became automatic good friends. She is such a genuine person and is always looking out for everyone. She also has skied some amazing mountaineering lines around the world, but is the most humble person I have met. It is like pulling teeth to here about her adventures, she always wants to know how I am doing!
Fun times on the horses!

Together I feel that we make a great team to make a short film happen. This is something I have always wanted since I started competing 6 years ago. We hope to bring more ladies into the mix and inspire more women to go above and beyond what they think they can do! We also hope to inspire the men to do the same! Ha! ha!

The patch!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ladies ski West Hourglass and attempt Middle Teton Glacier!

Heading into the backcountry to ski spring/summer conditions, with a brand new partner, in a mountain range you’ve never entered is a generally a bad idea. climbing and skiing partnerships are earned not forced. Hadley and I haven’t known each other long. We’re both Marmot athletes, but last weekend’s adventure in Teton National Park was our first. We’ve been training together at Mountain Athlete, which has given us the opportunity to see each other’s physical and mental strengths. Our assignment from Coach Shaul was one of teambuilding, mountain awareness, and orientation. He sent us into Teton National Park to ski West Hourglass one day, camp at the Platforms, and ski the Middle Teton the next.
Pip Hunt and Hadley Hammer Garnet Canyon
We started our day at 5:15 am. Weighed down with camping gear, food, and ski equipment, we slogged our 60 lb packs up to the Platforms. After a near-fall into the creek (I don’t suggest sitting down on a rock to rebalance with a massive pack on, especially when your ski tails get stuck on the other side of the rock. Standing up looked something like a sandbag get-up).  After unloading our camping gear, food, and repacking our ski equipment, we set off for the West Hourglass Couloir.
West Hourglass, rose just to our left, narrowing before the top doglegged out of view.  The climb was easy and straightforward, with just crampons, an ice axe and whippit. The snow was soft, but still easy to climb.  As we rounded the corner of the dogleg and spied the top, we realized that the last 100 yards to the saddle had melted out. We did attempt to scramble to the top, but after the scree field started to slide, and we bailed immediately. Safety first! The descent was perfect spring corn, on a sustained 45 degree pitch. The sun was beating down on the Meadows, and we made our way back to camp for lunch, and a little bit of reading and relaxation next to the creek.  Fun skiing followed by a cool creek, sunbathing, and summer camping? I could get used to this.
The next morning we awoke early again and were hiking by 5:30. We anticipated it taking us at least 4 hours (if we were booking it) to the top of the Middle Teton Glacier, and with yesterday’s temperatures we assumed we would need to be skiing down no later than 12.
Hadley Hammer heading up Glacier
We were moving at a solid pace. At 9:20, we were at the bottom of the last pitch, parallel to the two crevasses, splintering out from the Northeastern cliffs. I turned to Hadley “At least this wind will buy us time by keeping the snow cool,” I said before falling back into a steady rhythm of pick, step, pick, step, pick, step.  I spoke too soon. The gusty wind had been threatening to knock us of our feet all day, but as we entered the shadows on the looker’s left side of the couloir, the wind disappeared. A rustling, wind-chime like tinkle collided with the breeze and I looked to my right. A small wet slide about 5 feet wide and an inch and a half deep was slowly moving down the glacier. It didn’t gain momentum or pick up much snow as it slid towards the crevasses, but it still made my stomach clench. The run, though steep, appears straightforward, until the crevasses. They turn this basic pitch into a gamble; a gamble that made me think twice about a couple inches of wet sluff.
I turned around and asked Hadley what she thought.
“We’re only going to the saddle right?” She clarified.
 “Right. Let’s get above that next rock outcropping and assess from there. I think it is flat enough that we could put our skis on safely if we need to bail. How are you feeling?”  I asked.
“Well, you know me, I’ve always got something in reserve, so I could push it.”
And push it we did. I tripled my pace, felt my heart race and turned my feet and arms over, propelling myself through the shadows.  As we neared the rock, we were momentarily forced into the sun-softened snow. I slowed, breathed, and focused, making sure that each point made firm contact before placing my next. The snow was loose, and difficult to gain purchase. I dug my ice axe in harder with every step. We gained elevation over the rock and realized our mistake. The pitch was even steeper above than below, and the snow was rotten and sluffing easily, gaining momentum as it released from each of my steps and passed Hadley.
“Pip, I’m not sure how I feel about this,” Hadley shouted up at me. I was thinking the same thing. I wasn’t sure if I felt safer in crampons or on skis. But I did know that I wanted to be off of this pitch.
“ I’m not sure what is safer, attempting to put our skis on here, or hustling to the top and having a safe platform to change modes quickly,” I replied.  We were so close, maybe 5 minutes from the Summit.
“What if we just downclimb?”  Hadley suggested. I took two seconds and thought hard. Do I really want to ski down this once I get to the top? Can I avoid my own sluff, can I avoid putting both myself and Hadley in danger of falling into the crevasses if one of us makes a mistake? We started our descent. Slowly, again ensuring that we had three points connected at all times, that our pieces had purchase, and that the rapidly dissolving snowpack supported our feet.
It took us twice as long to downclimb what we had ascended, but the adrenaline left me drained, starving, and grateful.
“I think it’s a good thing to have to turn around sometimes,” Hadley stated, “it keeps you humble. It reminds you that you can say no when you have to.”

- Pip Hunt

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Meet Liza Sarytchev!!!

I met Liza Sarytchev at a SheJumps Get the Girls Out day this winter at Jackson Hole. We had a pretty big crew of ladies, some my close friends, some I had seen around the hill and some I had never met. From the first run we all took together, Liza immediately stood out. She was a phenomenal skier. But, that wasn’t the only thing that made her noticeable. She was smiling ear to ear from the second we loaded the Gondola and was just pumped to meet other skier girls and spend the day with these people in the mountains. The combination of her skiing ability, humble and fun attitude as well as her clear love of the mountains was refreshing, and for that, she is my first patch recipient. –Julie Weinberger
Name: Liza Sarytchev
Age: 21
Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD
Home Mountain: Whitetail
Favorite Color: Sea Green
JW: Tell us a little about yourself… 
LS: I grew up skiing in Siberia where my dad would drive the family 10 hours each way every weekend to ski a resort that consisted of one groomed run accessed by 1 double chairlift or 2 t-bars. When I was 9, we moved to Maryland and my family started skiing at Whitetail in PA. Needless to say, I learned to appreciate ice and bumps. When I'm not skiing, I like to cycle and rock climb in my free time.
JW: You are my first Babe Force patch recipient. Are you excited?
LS: Way excited! I love the idea of an all female ski club. I've has so much fun skiing with the Babe Force and I can't wait for more Babe Force ski outings so I can get to know the girls better.
JW: How long have you lived in Jackson? What led you to come here?
LS: I've been in Jackson for about five months now. I came here over winter break last year and totally fell in love with the place. After my trip, I quickly decided to take next spring semester off and come to JHMR for a full ski season. Best decision ever! I'm looking to come back again next season and move to Jackson for good after I finish my undergrad. 
JW: Your positive, fun attitude on the hill is admirable. Tell me a little about your mindset when you’re on the hill.
LS: When I'm on the hill, I'm always having a blast. Most days I'm on the last Gondi getting excited about tomorrow. I get more and more stoked on skiing every day I ski. I just love the sport and there's nothing I'd rather do.
JW: Anything else?

LS: I just wanted to say that I'm grateful that I met so many amazing people this season, one of them being yourself. I’m glad to be a part of the Babe Force community and I look forward to coming back next season, re-connecting with old friend and making new ones.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Meet Kaki Orr - our newest Babe Force recruit!

You may have noticed our Kaki ripping up the sidecountry this season.  This 27-year old former investment banker in New York City knew there was more to her life than moving money around. She moved to Jackson Hole in 2010 and proceeded to demonstrate the quintessential definition of babe-ness: epic adventure, facing fear, and sharing the stoke!

When Kaki was a kid her family moved to Switzerland and she learned her turns in Morzine, France.  She remembers, “back then I was always jumping, always showing off!”  That spirit followed her to Jackson.  She remembers her first winter here, the epic 2010 season.  It didn’t take her long to find a group of guys willing to take her OB. Her first excursions to Sarcophagus, Mario World and into Granite were her falling-in-love moments with Jackson Hole. “It’s like nothing else on the planet for shredding deep powder, the most amazing, steep, fun terrain you’ll ever see. It’s so hard to get here,” she says, “but once you’re here you find this amazing nucleus of people who don’t want to leave, and who love the outdoors, not just at the village but skiing the park, mountain biking, ice hockey, you name it.”

If 2010 was her education year, 2011 was her expedition year.  I have to tell you, this girl skied Central Couloir this past winter, twice.  Here’s the story.

“The first time was with Tigger, we climbed Cody and I was just going up to watch and learn, my plan was to ski Four Shadows. When we got to Central there were two guys there, and the first guy skied it and radioed up, ‘it’s the best I’ve ever skied it – it’s now or never!’ And the next guy skied it with one pole, and I thought, if he can do it I can! So I did it, I skied it, got to the crux and it looked like a more extreme Corbetts – on a good day. And – I just went in – it’s a double – a 10-footer then a tabletop and another 15-footer.  It was soft and deep and so worth it!” 

Kaki really caught my attention at the first Babe Force ski day.  “After that first day I saw that the Babe Force was all about blowing people’s expectations. When we all set out I thought, ok, we’re really going to ski with 40 girls? How is this gonna work? But it did, and when we all got to the lifts at the same time every run, clogging up the maze with this amazing ripping fast group of girls, I knew it was for me.”
Kaki’s favorite “progression session” this winter was putting skis on her friend Bailey from Tennessee, who had never been on them before, and within two hours teaching Bailey how to ski from the top of the Gondi. Kaki says, “her smile was the exact same as a girl who had just hucked Fat Bastard or skied Corbetts for the first time.”

This iconic Wyoming girl (and I’m a native so I can say that) also plays hockey for the Moose and is a wrangler in the summer for the Gros Ventre River Ranch.

Kaki said the best thing to me: “What’s I love about the Babe Force is that it was started for all the right reasons – it’s inclusive – those who want to inspire others are welcome. On the first ski day it was not only following the girls who were so fast – it was the girls who weren’t as fast, coming up to say, you inspired me – ‘cause that’s what I’ve been saying to boys my entire skiing career – thanks for showing me how to get down the mountain that fast and for showing me it’s possible. We girls love to ski with the guys, but we want to ski with the girls even more.”

Congratulations Kaki, I’m honored to patch you up girl!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Meet Natasha Krochina

I met Natasha at a yoga teacher training two winters. Everyday, without fail, on our lunch break she would pull on her ski socks and run out the door. While everyone else was eating and drinking tea or taking a nap, she was getting in a few tram laps. That is when I knew I had met a girl that was truly dedicated to the winter lifestyle of Jackson Hole. Natasha is one of the most genuine and inspiring women I have ever met and I am proud to have her as the recipient of my first patch. 

Natasha moved to Jackson the winter of 2008-2009, which was the year of the new tram. She grew up in Anchorage, AK and lived in San Diego before moving to Wyoming. She loved the beach but missed the mountains and riding. 

She began her career skiing in the third grade. "My dad would drop me off at the bus stop with a coupon book of tickets which I would use one for my bus ride, one for the rental, one for the lift ticket and one for the lesson," she said. 

It wasn't until the end of high school and the beginning of college that she started snowboarding. You can find her on the mountain, everyday, still doing both. 

"My favorite thing about the ski community in Jackson is how excited people are to be here. There are so many amazing people who are motivated to get out there and explore the beauty of the surrounding area," Natasha said. "I am really excited about joining the Babe Force and riding with some other amazing women who live here. It's nice to have a group to bring us all together and share our love for the outdoors!"


Monday, May 21, 2012

JHBF Patch Recipient Karissa Tuthill!

Karissa doing what she knows best!

Hiking Cody!

I am in the  backcountry at the JHMR with a bunch of girls doing some powder filming shots when I see Karissa and a bunch of boys hitting a jump doing different tricks. The girls and I stop to watch as Karissa lines up and goes bigger than the boys throwing a huge back flip. I met Karissa at the beginning of the season, because she was coming off a major injury that she sustained while mountain biking. Karissa fractured her sacrum, fractured her L 1 and had to have cartilage cleaned out of her knee. She was lucky to be alive because she had fallen about 70 feet down an embankment into a river. Karissa had compted in mogul skiing the last couple years and wanted to try big mountain competitions,so I was excited to help get her strong and help her with competing in big mountain. For those of you that do not know Karissa her smile is contagioous and she is one of the most positive, exciteable people I have ever met. I could not believe that she was ready mentally to try and compete after sustaining serious injury in August. She has worked super hard to get strong again and is skiing better each day! In the last competition she threw a back flip in a place that a lot of boys would never try, just 5 months after the injury and never really competing in a big mountain compeition. This was very inspiring to me and a lot of other women! She also showed a ton of support to all the ladies on Babe Force ski day, which was inspiring for the other ladies. Karissas support of the other woman and pushing herself physically and mentally earned her one of my first patches.

-Crystal Wright