Our training philosophy was born of the mountains, of high standards and hard work. No matter the athlete, our craft applies: wield the “tools” of a unique training environment to create a better, faster, stronger, more conscious human being.
Our goals are to train the mind of the individual along side the body, for the mind compels the body to endure and to achieve. To injury proof the body all the while encouraging the athlete to excel. We have created an environment of support, where honesty, character and integrity are paramount; and where motivation, instruction, and guidance are given to those with the desire to change.
These practices do not apply to just the “elite” of the athletic world. They apply to each and every one of us. We are all athletes! We all desire health, strength, happiness, and the capacity to excel in whatever we choose to do, at any level.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
Ripple Effect Training Center is a private facility. To effect positive change in a single individual or a small group; focused work must be done. All training is individualized to meet the needs of the athlete. Whether or not it is a general recreational athlete who just wants to enjoy his days off, a high end athlete who’s performance during a season or for a specific event is imperative to her, or the individual who just desires change and is seeking an environment of knowledgeable instructors and support.
Knowledge can only be gained only from experience, at Ripple Effect our instructors bring a life time of experience not only from the mountain environment but that of this unique gym environment. Our ethos is to enhance performance and to grow a community. Our Athletes are a reflection of our dedication.
The focus of my work and my life is to engage others in activities that create positive self change, to inspire, mentor, motivate, encourage, educate, and if that means changing the world one person at a time, so be it. I derive the deepest satisfaction from seeing others succeed, however I will be the first to tell you it is not just about being faster or stronger – it is about being a more conscious human being.
Carolyn is a life-long climber and mountain guide who has made the successful transition into full time coaching work. Carolyn is founder and lead instructor at the Ripple Effect Gym in Carbondale, Colorado.
Carolyn’s personal pursuit of progress with her climbing led her to training. Training led her to Mark Twight and Gym Jones. In 2010 she earned her Gym Jones Certified Instructor credential. Carolyn can lead 5.12 rock, M8 mixed, and ski 50 degree couloirs. She has ski guided Mont Blanc, the famous Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route and the Italian Ortler Traverse multiple times. In 2001 she attempted to climb Makalu by a new route on the South Face with a small 4-person team. Most recently she has been competitive in mountain runs such as the Imogene Pass run, R2R2R Grand Canyon, Sandia Crossing, Four Pass Loop Elk Mountains, Power of Four Skimo Race.
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Stats (Gym) and Skills
Dead Lift 265#
Front Squat 155#
Back Squat 175#
TGU 65# oly bar
Pull Ups 24 (weighted single rep +55#)
Row 500m 1:49
Row 2000m 7:57
Leads 5.12 on rock
Leads WI 5+ on ice; Lead M8 mixed routes
Ski 45/50 degree slopes; has guided multiple Haute Routes in The Alps, Argentiere to Zermatt, and the Ortler region of the Italian Alps.
Comfortable on Grade V alpine routes: has guided ascents 40+ summits in Bolivia, Ecuador, the French and Swiss Alps, WA, Canada.
Climber and Expedition sponsorship coordinator: American Makalu Expedition 2001, Makalu 8,463 m Nepal Himalaya
Former USCF Cat 2 Road & NORBA Expert Cyclist
Competitive finishes in Imogene Pass Run and Sandia Crossing, numerous times.
Elite Coach for Uphill Athlete
Gym Jones – Fully Certified Instructor
AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Wilderness First Responder, EMT – WEMT
2019: Turned 50 – Guided a ski mountaineering trip in Antarctica Nov 2019. Ran a trail 50k, Road back to back 50 milers, road bike.
2018: Expanded and moved the Ripple Effect to new location in Carbondale, Climbed in Sicily.
2017: Four Pass Loop, run in a day, 27 miles, 10,000 felt of elevation gain 8.0 hours
2016: Power of Four SkiMo Race, 25 miles, 10,000 vertical gain. 8 hours.
2015: Four Pass Loop, run in a day, 27 miles, 10,000 felt of elevation gain 8.5 hours.
2014: Rim2Rim2Rim, Grand Canyon: 43 miles, 22,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, 13 hours running time
2013: Ski Ascent Mt Blanc, Chamoix France, April/ Summit Mauna Loa, HI 13,670/ Surfed La Jolla, Nosara-Costa Rica
2012: Learned to Surf, started Surf Like a Girl clinics coordinated with Surf Diva, La Jolla CA; Surfed 30+ days, La Jolla, Nosara – Costa Rica, Tavarua Island- Fiji, Waikiki & Hawaii Kai, HI
2011: Redpointed 5.12b, 5.12c, Repeated redpoint of Autumn Ivy, Sandia Wilderness, 5.12 Trad
2010: Hit loads of new PR’s in gym, see stats
2009: FFA/Red Pointed “Autumn Ivy”, Sandia Wilderness, 5.12 Trad; and Sport 5.12a & 12b. Heliski in Terrace BC; Guided a 12-day Ski Mountaineering trip in the Ortler Region of Italy; 100,000 vertical (up & down) mostly self-propelled.
2008: Opened a private, invitation-only training facility, hidden in the foot hills of the Sandia Mountain Wilderness, aka RIPPLE EFFECT
2007: Guided the Haute Route (ski mountaineering tour through the Alps, from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland following the Verbier variation), 60 miles, 20,000′ of elevation gain.
2006: Passed AMGA Rock Guide Exam, Red Rock Nevada. Guided the Haute Route (ski mountaineering tour through the Alps, from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland), 60 miles, 20,000′ of elevation gain
2005: Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon (Ride, Run, Ski, Snowshoe – 43 miles, 4800 ft elevation gain), 1st place (35-39), 7th female overall in 5:19:35; Established NM based guide service and created her women’s rock and ice climbing series “Climb Like A Girl”.
2004: First ascent of “The Promised Land”, Sandia Wilderness, Grade V, 5.12c
2003: Defined Fitness Duathlon Albuquerque, NM, Run 5k, Bike 20k, Run5 k, 1st place
2002: Founded RIPPLEFFECT Training, FFA- Dancing on the Moon 5.11, 2xBW DL 255# at the time.
2001: Expedition to Makalu: Climber and Trip Sponsorship Coordinator for the American Makalu Expediaton; the 5th highest mountain in the world.
1999: Climbed “Nemesis” on the Stanley Headwall, Canadian Rockies, 150m, WI 6;
1998: Climbed Mt Stewart – TH to TH in 12hrs;
1997: Climbed a Grade V in a day, “Epinephrine”, Red Rocks, in 5 hours. Guided 20+ 5-6,000M Peaks South America, Ecuador and Bolivia.
1996: Climbed “Iron Hawk” 5.9, A4+, VI El Capitan, Yosemite
1993-1994: Began Climbing guiding career, education with AMGA, first training certification, Imogene Pass Run 93 & 94 – 1st age group 20 – 29,3rd overall. 1994 Sandia Crossing Run 27miles 1st Female.
1988-92 USCF Cat 2 Road Cyclist, NORBA Expert Mountain Bike Racer, Winter Telemark- ski ascents: SF Baldy, Truchas Peak, Lake Fork Peak, Wheeler Peak. Founder of Women’s Mtn Biking Clinics: Bike Repair/Technique for Riding. EMT-Basic, WFR, W-EMT. Level I & II Avalanche Training
Guided and or climbed 1996 – 2013
South America: Cotopaxi (19,300ft):
Cayambe (18 ,995ft):
Illiniza Sur (17,600ft) and Norte (17,300ft) in Ecuador.
Pyrimide Blanca, West Face AI 3,(17,200ft);
Peq. Alpamayo, Normal Route & West Face AI 4 (17,700ft);
Huayna Potosi, Standard Route AI 3 (19,800ft);
Illimani, West Ridge (21,100ft); in Bolivia.
North America: North Ridge Mt. Baker (10,781ft) AI 4 Grade IV, Coleman Deming Route, Easton Glacier Route.
Glacier Peak(10,541ft), Frostbite Ridge AI3 4th class;
Mt Shuksan (9131ft) Fischer Chimney’s and Sulphide Glacier Routes:
Mt Daniel, (7960ft) Daniel Glacier Route;
Forbidden Peak (8815ft) West Ridge AI 3 5.7;
Mt. Stuart (9,415ft) Stuart Glacier Couloir”, IV, WI3, 5.6, WA, car-to-car in 16hrs.
Enclosure Couloir & Northwest Ridge”, IV, AI3, 5.7, Enclosure, Tetons, WY,
North Ridge of the Grand Teton (13,770ft) 5.8 V,
CMC Route Mount Moran (12,065ft),
NW Couloir Middle Teton (13,200ft) AI 4 easy 5th.
East ridge of Teewinot (12,325ft) 5.8 var. Teton National Park, WY
France: Mont Blanc, Ski Summit 15,781ft; Chere Couloir, D, Mont Blanc Du Tacul (AI4+ M4); Cosmiques Arete PD+, Aguille du Midi;
South Face Aguille du Midi, Contamine Route III 11.a,
Rebuffet Route IV 5.10; Point Lachanel;
Pollux AD SW ridge; West Flank of Dom Peak, Switzerland, highest peak (entirely) in Switzerland.
5.12 I Autumn Ivy, Sandia Wilderness NM;
5.11a lll Midsummer Nights Dream/Sex Comedy, Black Canyon, CO;
5.11a lll Comic Relief, Lightning Bolt Cracks, Black Canyon, CO;
5.12c V FA The Promise Land Sandia Wilderness, NM;
5.11b/c I Spaghetti Western, On sight, Indian Creek, UT;
5.10b III Johnny Quest Questa Dome, NM;
5.10+ IV Inti Watanna, Red Rock, NV;
5.11b/c ll FA Sister Sledge, Sandia Wilderness, NM;
5.11a ll Western Justice, On sight, Sandia Wilderness, NM;
5.12a lll VooDoo Child, Sandia Wilderness, NM;
5.11a IV Levitation 29 Red Rock, NV;
5.8 A2 V Lowe Route, Angels Landing, Zion, UT;
5.8 A3 IV Super Glide, Sandia Wilderness, NM;
5.9 A4 VI Iron Hawk, Yosemite, CA;
5.11c lll North Face, Monster Tower, Canyon Lands, UT;
5.10d lll Washer Woman Tower, Canyon Lands, UT;
5.10a lll Chapelle de Gliere, Chamonix, FR;
5.11c lll Voix Contamine, S Face Aguille du Midi;
5.10b/c IV Voix Rebuffet, S Face Aguille du Midi;
5.11b/c IV Luna Bong, Verdon, France;
5.10b/c ll Coeur de Verre, Verdon, France;
5.11 A0 IV The Grand Wall, Squamish, BC;
5.11 c/d ll SA Dancing on the Moon, Sandia Wilderness, NM;
5.11a ll Fine Jade, Castle Valley, UT;
5.11 d ll Crime of the Century, Squamish, BC;
5.11d IV Cloud Tower, Red Rock, NV;
5.9 V Epinephrine, Red Rocks, NV;
5.11a lll Lightning Bolt Cracks, North Six Shooter, UT
The Rigid Designator WI 4/5 II;
The Fang WI 5/6 II; Redstone Pillar WI4;
Secret Probation M7;
Dexter Creek Slab WI3/4 III;
Skyrocket WI5 III;
Senator Gulch WI 4/5;
The RibbonWI4 V;
The Skylight WI 5 M5/6;
Choppo’s Chimney WI 4/5 II;
Slip Sliddin’ Away WI4 M5 II;
Slippery When Wet WI 4/5 M5 II;
Chockstone Chimney WI 4/5 II;
Horsetail Falls WI 4/5 II;
Coronet Falls WI4 –;
The Fang WI5 II;
Bridalveil Falls WI5+ IV;
Silver Pick Falls WI 4+/5 I;
Ames Ice Hose WI 5 III;
Ames Falls WI4/5 I;
Cracked Canyon Ice Fall, WI 5 M5;
Sundance WI 4/5 I;
Cataract Creek WI 3/4;
Direct North Face WI 4/5 III;
Snowblind WI 5 III;
Bad Ass Pencil WI 5/6 I;
Whore House Hoses WI 4/5 IV;
Stairway To Heaven WI 4 IV;
Gold Rush WI 4/5 III;
Second Gully WI4 III;
Haflin Canyon WI 4/5;
Lime Creek WI 4+ II;
Treasure Falls WI4+ II;
Moratorium WI 4/5 II;
The Mean Green WI 5 III;
High on Boulder WI 4+ III;
Gibraltar Wall WI 4;
Essondale Right WI 4+ III;
Carlsberg Column WI 5 III;
Louise Falls WI 4 – 5 II;
Lower and Upper Weeping Wall WI 5+ IV;
Mixed Master 5.8 WI 5 IV;
Ice Nine WI 5+;
Kitty Hawk WI 5 IV;
Rainbow Serpent WI 6 III;
Malignant Mushroom WI 5 II;
Professor Falls WI 4 III;
Murchison Falls, My Daddy’s a psycho Variation WI 5+ III;
SARS on Ice WI3/4 III;
Five Seven Zero WI 4 III;
Pilsner Pillar WI 6 III;
Nemesis VI, WI 6.
Betsy grew up in the Pacific Northwest, with the mountains, rivers and rocky coastlines as her playground. Remote landscapes, harsh conditions, and the company of those who “get it” energize and inspire her.
Betsy has been working with Carolyn since 2012. She is dedicated to the continuous learning of new tools and techniques – both inside and outside of the gym – that effect self-growth, injury prevention, and blasting through obstacles. In addition to her work at Ripple Effect Training, Betsy teaches AIARE avalanche rescue and safety classes for Paragon Guides and Colorado Mountain College, runs trips domestically and internationally for International Mountain Guides, and teaches climbing and rock rescue for Colorado Mountain College. She also most recently helped Tanice Kitchener, DPT (Rocky Mountain Therapros) develop and launch her Blood Flow Restriction Training Program.
More About Betsy
I grew up on Mercer Island, WA, just outside of Seattle, and spent summers exploring the rivers, coastlines, and mountains of the Pacific Northwest with my parents and two older sisters. After high school, I studied environmental engineering and product development at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and the successful completion of my Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. A month later, I moved to Albuquerque, NM to work as a mechanical and manufacturing engineer at a rapidly growing solar and LED lighting company. Within a year, the operation moved to L.A., and though I followed I was contemplating my “options” a few months into the move.
Life wasn’t all that bad, but after sprinting through high school and college straight into my career, I was feeling a bit burnt out on engineering, was unhappy with the city life in L.A., and couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I was missing out on something important.
So, I decided to quit, slashing my income and moving back to northern New Mexico, a place I had unexpectedly fallen in love with, to get some perspective and piece things together. Soon enough, what was going to be a quick summer “break” turned into a launching point for an entirely new direction in life. What, in all logical views, would have seemed like a massive destabilization of my life, felt like the most grounding action I could have taken: I saw I had a chance to live by my ideals, and I took it.
In the more than eight years since then, I have pursued white water rafting and river guiding, swift water rescue, rock climbing, alpine climbing, high angle rock and alpine rope rescue, technical glacier mountaineering, ice climbing, rock guiding and mountain guiding, ski patrol, wilderness and emergency medicine, mountain biking, back country skiing and ski mountaineering, and avalanche safety and rescue. Perhaps more importantly, I was introduced to a community of people who didn’t follow the traditional rules that I’d been exposed to, and all of a sudden I had the chance to reimagine what was possible and viable in life. I had found “my people” – who not only cherish the solitude of wild spaces but also viscerally need those landscapes in our souls to survive.
In the background, complementary to all of my zigs and zags, was the Ripple Effect. After working part time with Carolyn in New Mexico for a few years, I transitioned to full time seasonal work, mountain guiding in the PNW and working as an EMT for the Ski Santa Fe Ski Patrol in New Mexico, and Carolyn moved to Carbondale CO to launch the RE as we know it. Coming through Carbondale to say hi was always a highlight in my shoulder seasons, a way to earn some extra cash, to connect with community and keep my body strong and bulletproof. I became fascinated with the human body – its resilience, its capacity to adapt to different inputs, to heal and strengthen around injury sites and to unlearn and relearn movement patterns. In essence, I had found an intellectual match for my nerdy engineering-brain – in biomechanics and exercise physiology – and I love that there is still so much for me to learn.
All of which is to say, of course, I eventually moved to Carbondale – to create more of a “home base” of sorts, training at RE and teaching and guiding in the mountains. I am constantly inspired by the people I work with, who try hard and push outside of their comfort zones and ultimately trust me to “keep them on the mountain.” I love the creativity that is required to train for mountain endeavors – be it professional or recreational – pulling across disciplines and developing unique tools and processes that meet the demands. There is no “one size fits all” approach, each individual body and mind is indeed different, requiring different challenges to create excellence and different motives to trigger that drive to “dig deep.”
In the mountains we often look for the “path of least resistance” – a line that flows with the landscape and just “fits.” Sometimes though, looks can be deceiving, and we can get off track. The path in front of us or above us may not be The Way. We may need to pivot, to go down, or backtrack, before going back up. To test suspicious looking rock, pull the big scary looking roof, stick a hand in a rose bush to stay on route. We also have to trust our belayer, even when we’re out of sight and neither party can hear each other. And, of course, we must earn their trust as well.
I believe in showing up, in working hard, in putting in not just sweat, but focused, detailed work. In the strength of community and partnerships, in trusting that you will have people to lean on when (not if) you need them, and in being that safety net for others. In lifting each other and ourselves up, because we are all only as strong as our weakest and most vulnerable link. In knowing that your crux may not be the same as mine, and that we all bring different strengths and weakness to the team. In staying vigilant, for complacency is what often leads to catastrophic failures.
So, in life as in the alpine, we trust our feet, and pull the scary moves, and dig deep, and learn that we can rely on ourselves and on each other.
Betsy’s Stats (Gym)
Dead Lift 225#
Front Squat 135#
Back Squat 160#
Over Head Squat 80#
Bench Press 95#
30” Box Jump
Pull Ups 15, Single Rep Max @ +20#
Row 500m 1:48
Row 1000m 3:59
Row 2000m 8:11
AD 1:00 All Out 36cal
AirDyne 10:00 All Out 182cal
NCSA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist
StrongFirst Barbell Level 1 Course
StrongFirst Kettle Bell Course
SFMA Level 1 Certification
AMGA Rock Guide Course
AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Certification
Wilderness First Responder
American Avalanche Association Professional Level 1 Certification
AIARE Avalanche Course Instructor
AIARE Level I & II, Instructor Training Courses
Rigging for Rescue Waterfall Ice Climbing and Rescue Course
Swift Water Rescue Technician
Leave No Trace Master Educator
Power of Four SkiMo Race, Aspen CO
Expedition Leader, Cordillera Blanca, Peru:
Mount Pisco (Pisco Oeste), 18,871 ft, SW Ridge, Alpine PD+, 30°- 45°
Mount Ishinca, 18,200 ft, Normal Route, Alpine PD-
Expedition Leader, Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru:
Diablo Mudo, 17,552 ft, NW Ridge, Alpine PD, 45-55º, 5.6 rock
Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit, 80 miles @ 12,000-17,500 ft
Mount Rainier (14,410 ft), Washington, 40+ summits since 2014, via the Disappointment Cleaver, Kautz Ice Chute and Emmons Glacier Routes
Ski Descent, Emmons Glacier, Mount Rainier
Ski Ascent and Descent, Ski Hayden Peak (13,316 ft), Colorado
Ski Ascent and Descent, Mount Sopris (12,965 ft), Colorado
Castle Peak (14,279 ft), Colorado
Conundrum Peak (14,064 ft), Colorado
Middle Truchas Peak ski ascent and descent, Truchas Mountains, New Mexico
Expedition Guide, Aconcagua (22,837 ft), Argentina
Mount Baker (10,781 ft), Washington, ski ascent and descent via the Coleman-Deming Route
Mount Shuksan (9,131 ft), Washington, via the Sulphide Glacier Route
Little Tahoma (11,138 ft), Washington
Aguja Guillaumet, Argentina; via the Brenner-Moschioni Route (300m, 30º, 6b)
Mt. Tocllaraju (~19,790 ft), Peru, via the Northwest Ridge Route
Mt. Ishinca (~18,200 ft), Peru, ascended Northwest Ridge, descended Southwest Ridge
Mt. Urus (~17,900 ft), Peru, via the Normal Route
Grand Teton (13,770ft), multiple summits via the Owen Spaulding Route and Upper Exum Ridge
Garibaldi Neve Traverse with Clinker Peak Variation, 30 miles single push on skis, Coast Mountains, British Columbia
ROCK (Multi-pitch Traditional)
Bird on a Wire, 5.10, Joshua Tree, CA
Dappled Mare, 5.8, Joshua Tree, CA
Right On, 5.6, Joshua Tree, CA
Western Saga, 5.9, Joshua Tree, CA
Taliban Blues, 5.9-, Grade II, Hagermann Pass, CO
Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre, 5.8, Questa Dome, NM
Serpentine Crack, 5.8, Tres Piedras, NM
Casually Off Route, 5.9, Grade II, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, CO
Sifuentes Weber (5.9, Grade II, 100m), Aguja Frey, The Frey, Argentina
Naca Naca Crunch Crunch (5+, 120m), El Abuelo, The Frey, Argentina
Clemenso (5+, 150m), Torre Principal, The Frey, Argentina
Shiva la de los cuatro brazos, (5+, 100m), El Pirimidal, The Frey, Argentina
Diedro de Jim, 5+, Aguja Frey, The Frey, Argentina
South Face / South Sixshooter (5.7 Grade II), Indian Creek, Utah
Jah Man / Sister Superior (5.10c Grade II), Castle Valley, Utah
Angel’s Crest (5.10b, Grade IV), Squamish Chief, British Columbia
The Squamish Buttress-Butt Face Variation (5.9, Grade III), Squamish Chief, British Columbia
Holland-Davis Route (5.10c, 400′, Grade III), Index, Washington
Outer Space, 5.9, Grade III, Leavenworth, WA
Warpy Moople (5.9, 800′, Grade III), Sandia Crest, Sandia Mountains, New Mexico
Caitlin grew up in Carbondale, where her passion for the mountains and the outdoors began. She is a graduate of California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, CA. Through also living in Baja Mexico, Bend, Hood River OR, Australia and traveling to places such as Europe, Bali, New Zealand and Australia, she found that her heart truly belongs back in Carbondale.
In terms of the mountains, Caitlin enjoys skiing, skinning, hiking, running, and mountain biking. To her, the mountains are her meditation, her grounding force and where she feels she belongs. Outside of mountain sports, Caitlin enjoys surfing, kite surfing, yoga and riding her horse in the local Carbondale rodeos.
To her, Ripple is more than just a gym. It is a safe and positive place to encourage people to become the best version of themselves both mentally and physically. The uplifting characters and unique backgrounds of those who walk through the door constantly inspire her. She loves the sense of community that Ripple brings, as well as the opportunities that allow her to consistently learn tools aiding in self growth, correct alignment, injury prevention, and how strength conditioning can transform a person’s ability to move through life in the best possible way outside the gym.
Caitlin feels incredibly grateful to be apart of such a unique, quality team at the Ripple Effect. Her passion for the outdoors, love for movement, desire for learning, teaching and wellness all interplay into her role at the gym.
Dead Lift 165#
Front Squat 135#
Back Squat 105#
Bench Press 85#
30″ Box Jump
Row 250m 1:00
Row 500m 2:06
Row 1000m 4:48
Row 2000m 9:15
Haute Route Trek From France to Switzerland, Europe
Longs Peak, Estes Park CO
Sopris Peak, Carbondale CO
Great Ocean Road Trek, Australia
Mt. Batur, Bali Indonesia
South Sister Peak, Bend OR
Yosemite Half Marathon, Yosemite CA
Aspen Valley Half Marathon, Aspen CO
Lord of the Wind Showdown Kitesurf Competition, Los Barriles Mexico
Kiteboard 4 Cancer, Hood River OR
CKA Ladies Wave competition, Morro Bay CA
…to continue to learn, explore and expand herself through the mountains, people and opportunities that the Roaring Fork Valley has to offer.
Jim first came to the Ripple Effect to work on his recovery from a spinal cord injury that had originally left him paralyzed from the sternum down. Fast forward six years and hundreds of hours of gym work, physical therapy, research, willingness to try and try hard Jim has regained the ability to ride a mountain bike, skin and ski, walk with no external assistance, pack raft, and live a life full of mobility and adventure once again.
The balance point between psychological acceptance of his disability and the continued will to lean against his limitations are always in flux. Jim’s role as a RE trainer and athlete helps him achieve that balance while continuing to improve his physical proprioception. Jim is delighted to be part of the RE team.
He is additionally a talented photographer and artist, so when not here or out with his friends in the mtns or on the river he can be found at his studio at SAW.Read More
Six years ago, Jim Harris’ life made an abrupt turn. Jim had traveled to Chile for an expedition he and frequent travel partner Forrest McCarthy had dreamed up. The idea was to ski and packraft 350 miles down the length of the Patagonian Ice Cap. However, while practicing with a snow kite just before their departure, Jim fractured nine vertebrae and was instantly paralyzed from sternum down.
Prior to that accident, Jim’s life was intertwined with mountain sports. 2005 he graduated from college with degrees in Biology and Fine Art. Before starting grad school he opted to be a ski bum for one winter first, skiing by day and tuning skis at night. Soon Jim was working as an outdoor educator, teaching mountaineering courses with Outward Bound and Alaska Mountain Guides and avalanche safety classes with AIARE. He has yet to enroll in grad school.
In 2009 Jim spent a month backpacking Wrangell St Elias National Park in Alaska and the photos he posted online went viral, making the front page of Reddit twice. His trip report attracted the attention of pro ski mountaineers who invited him on an Alaskan ski trip. So, Harris bought an inexpensive SLR camera and became the expedition’s photographer. Powder Magazine published those photos in a feature story Jim wrote about the trip. Other opportunities for photo and video work soon followed. His client list grew to include National Geographic, Camp4 Collective, and dozens of magazines and outdoor brands. And his trips grew more ambitious. Until he found himself paralyzed in a small Chilean hospital.
It took more than a week to reach definitive care and, since recovery outcomes from nerve trauma are often linked to how quickly circulation is restored to damaged tissue, doctors had little reason to believe that recovery from paralysis would be possible for him.
Improbably, Jim began to wiggle a toe several weeks after returning home. Soon more muscles began to twitch and six months after his spine injury Jim was able to stand with aid from a walker. On the one year anniversary of his accident, he and his brother Kyle skied the bunny slope while evening news cameras rolled. Since then, Jim has continued to push the limitations of his disability via mountain biking, skiing, hiking, and paddling.
Jim began training at Ripple Effect in 2015, about ten months into his SCI recovery. Carolyn and Jim spent hundreds of hours training together at RE as Carolyn sought ways to improve Jim’s neuromuscular coordination and strength. Over the following two years Jim progressed from using a walker to crutches, to trekking poles, and eventually to walking unassisted.
Training at Ripple Effect has translated both to Jim’s mountain sports capability and to his “real world rehab” goals like putting on pants while standing or carrying all the groceries in just one trip. The balance point between psychological acceptance of his disability and the continued will to lean against his limitations are always in flux and his role as a RE athlete and trainer help with both. Jim is delighted to be part of the RE team.
Some outdoor accomplishments:
2009: Southern Spiral Traverse, AK, First foot crossing of the Granite Range.
2010: Ski first descents in Revelation Range, AK
2011: Ski first known descents of 20k’ peaks in Bolivia
2012: Ski descents of Mt Waddington and surrounding peaks
2013: Ski traverse of Northern Mongolia on assignment with National Geographic
2014: Ski descent of Grand Teton in powder conditions
2015: Relearned to walk, skied bunny slope
2016: Rode 101-mile White Rim Trail in three days
2017: Rode White Rim Trail in 13 hours, solo and unsupported
2018: Stopped caring particularly much about the achievements, and decided he’s more motivated for enjoyable outings and human connections.
You can connect with Jim on Instagram at @perpetualweekend or see his art gorgeousstorm.com
Kristine began training at Ripple Effect soon after moving to Carbondale in 2020. Drawn by the RE training philosophy, the community, as well as the opportunity to pursue her lifelong passion in coaching (previously fulfilled in youth swimming and rock climbing), she joined the RE coaching staff in early 2022.
More About Kristine
Kristine believes person powered play is the purest avenue to knowing about ourselves, others, and the world around us. She learned this lesson through first-hand experience in graduate school in Southern California. Movement on the wall and on the yoga mat provided a means to expand her awareness beyond the realm of matters of the mind- the moving meditations of rock climbing and yoga opened doors to embodiment, and ways of knowing beyond the logic of Science.