By Sean Zimmerman-Wall
What would you dare to accomplish if you knew the only possible outcome was success? A new line at your favorite ski hill, the second pitch of a daunting climb or perhaps the big hit in the park? This mantra has been the guiding concept for an intrepid bunch of young women who strive to push themselves, and others like them, in the outdoor realm. Welcome to She Jumps. The brainchild of co-founders Lynsey Dyer and Vanessa Pierce, She Jumps started out as a blog for the two young athletes to share their love of sport with friends.
SheJumps.org hit the World Wide Web in 2006 with the goal of showcasing women interacting with each other in the outdoors, whether it be skiing, climbing, biking, hiking or just hanging out. Dyer’s background as a pro skier with an artistic mind and a flair for graphic design meshed perfectly with Pierce’s journalistic talents and prowess as an accomplished collegiate athlete. Together, the two began creating and posting various accounts of their adventures; within a year they had a cult-like following of women from all backgrounds and ages.
In a very short time, the team of “Jumpers” grew rapidly as the gals formed stronger bonds and fashioned innovative ways for their crew to get outside and try something new. Perhaps one of the wildest bits of creativity came when the group put out a post for interested women to climb the Grand Teton. At just a shade under 14,000 feet, The Grand is a formidable adversary. However, the challenging nature of the endeavor only fueled their resolve, and in July of 2007, a group of nine women, possibly the largest female group in history, stood atop the massif and gazed into the valley below. As if reaching the summit weren’t enough, the team proceeded to hula hoop in the thin air and scorching sun. Unlikely outcomes, such as this, are what the women of She Jumps crave, and their recent outings and upcoming events further illustrate what this organization is all about.
Conversing over a fine PBR tallboy at a local watering hole, Executive Director Claire Smallwood and I touched on some of the lesser-known intricacies of She Jumps. A strong skier and international traveler, Claire has an impressive resume of her own. From placing well in freeskiing competitions, to working on her quad-lingual talents, to an infamous Chilean shot-ski phenomenon, Claire has dared to accomplish anything, even if success was not the only possible outcome. After graduating from Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, Claire was anxious to put her knowledge to good use. Joining with the She Jumps crew early on, Claire’
s enthusiasm took the organization to the next level. Realizing the potential of the She Jumps concept, Smallwood went to work formulating the plans for a non-profit.
“We were excited about She Jumps becoming a legitimate organization and the party was just beginning. However, once I started putting in the paperwork and the IRS got involved, it was less of a party,” said Claire. Staying in tune with their philosophy, Smallwood stuck with it and She Jumps received its 501c3 status. The organization could now begin pushing towards its ultimate goal of raising awareness and garnering support for continued female empowerment in outdoor activities.
Since the upgrade, She Jumps has been on the forefront of creating programs that reach and inspire ladies of all ages to step out of their comfort zones and try their hand at greatness. Programs like She Jumps Into the Canyon are aimed at attracting the never-ever crowd to the mountains and helping them discover what is just outside their back door. By partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Salt Lake City, She Jumps has taught scores of young people how to enjoy the independence that skiing and snowboarding offers.
“The opportunity to build a community of snow riders is great, and we don’t want to shut out the boys either, they are just as welcome to come out and try something new,” added Smallwood.
As She Jumps leaps into the New Year, developing imaginative initiatives and increasing the level of outdoor education for its followers will be a top priority. From avalanche training to climbing and cycling clinics, you can bet the ladies will be pushing their limits to attract more and more women (and men) to test themselves and become extraordinary. For more information on upcoming events, check out shejumps.org.