2017/2018 JHBF Scholarship Program recipient Elizabeth Peltz moved to Jackson this past winter and jumped right in by applying to the JHBF Scholarship Program's "Progression Session 1" scholarship. She, along with 11 other women, took an Avy 1 class with the American Avalanche Institute this past January. Read more about Elizabeth's experience below!
There are few things more powerful than women in the mountains. When women come together to support each other, to push our limits, and to learn about our mountain environment, we put our “wild heart” forward, and when we do that… well, we become invincible.
Brene Brown, a social researcher with volumes of data on courage and vulnerability, describes our “wild heart” as our true self – a place where we know ourselves and where we face and overcome self-doubt. My wild heart is out in the mountains, and it is a big part of why I ski, but that other part, where self-doubt is faced and overcome, well that has been harder to know and find, and even harder to embody.
So, I’ll just admit, while I was honored to receive a JHBF scholarship for a Level 1 Avalanche Course, I was also terrified. I worried about all kinds of things: being cold, not being a good enough skier, being slow when skinning, and being old (can’t believe that thought even crossed my mind). With apprehension, I showed up to the first classroom session, but I instantly found some relief from the self-doubt. While nothing assuaged my fears, I found distraction in the immensely enjoyable lectures. The instructors’ passion for snow science and backcountry travel was contagious and I loved the opportunity to learn about things like, “faceted crystals” and “orographic effect.” I sensed, in the silent room, that we all loved this opportunity.
We had two fabulous evening classroom sessions, but these inevitably came to an end and I was left with just my self-doubt about the field session. The night before, I tossed and turned and listened as it rained the whole night. Before I knew it, we all stood in the windy and cold parking area booting up and heading out for day one.
My self-doubt stayed in that windy parking lot; and, I went out to learn about snow.
Over the next two days, we practiced avalanche rescue, we dug snow pits, and we talked snowpack conditions, terrain features, and route-selection. The field sessions passed by in a blur of snow, sleet, wind, and giggles – it got a little out of hand in the snow pit, but they say humor helps build memories and I remember what I learned from those snow pits.
I am so unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to take a Level 1 Avalanche Course - I came away from the experience with an arsenal of knowledge and a new set of resources. I also came away with new friends and new ski partners; and I am a safer, stronger team member to those I ski with in the backcountry. But on another level, I faced and overcame some of my own self-doubt and as a result, I also came away better able to embody my true self.
Since we’ve be asked what advice we’d give to younger or less experienced “Babes,” I’d say: go seek out that wild heart of yours, protect it from doubt, and find the adventures you seek in your very soul. You are invincible.