Jim Harris – New Instructor

Cycling coach and injury rehabilitation with Jim Harris

It is with great honor and pleasure that we welcome Jim to the Instructor Team at Ripple Effect Training. And selfishly I am thrilled that a dear friend is working with us once again so we can connect more often.

I have known Jim since 2015 and consider it an honor to call him a friend. His candor, positive energy, desire to learn and thrive are seemingly endless and He continually inspires me to be the best person I can be.

When I first met Jim he was coming to work with me or shall I say work together as a team 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 mtn bike, skin and ski, walk with no external assistance, pack raft, and live a life full of mobility and adventure once again.

If you haven’t already met him while he was shadowing classes and learning more about the art of instruction at RE, You’ll be seeing Jim soon covering classes and sharing his shining spirit. 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.

You can connect with Jim on Instagram at @perpetualweekend or see his art gorgeousstorm.com

Below is a short bio on Jim:

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.

You can connect with Jim on Instagram at @perpetualweekend or see his art gorgeousstorm.com

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.