Rachel Medaugh, University of Miami
Throwing yourself down a mountain over and over doesn’t seem very logical. In fact it may border on the line of insanity, but that’s what I have been doing for the last hour and a half. Moving from one side of the Lemon Creek Glacier to the other and finally on to the Ptarmigan. Attempting pizza turns on tele skis down the massive slope of the Ptarmigan was my breaking point. My butt had spent more time in the snow then in the air and I was done.
Ibai, our resident Spaniard and safety/skill instructor was not letting up. He was going to get our group down that slope come hell or high water. He turned to look back up the slope at my sad self, a few yards up the mountain and said, “ski-ING Rachel! Not ski-stop, its ski-ING. The act of doing something!” I wanted to cry by that point; couldn’t Ibai tell I had nothing left to give? I wanted to sit on the side of that slope and say, “No more! I’m cold, I’m tired, and I want to go back.”
It would have been great if Ibai had let up on me, let me head back to camp, but that’s not how you JIRP. He forced me to swallow my tears and make it down that slope, and then all the way back up it. Yes, it sucked, but I learned a key JIRP survival skill that day: embracing the suck. You have to learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, so much so that sometimes you even forget what the pleasure of dry socks feels like. But, as long as you just keep doing something, getting back up from your 100th fall that day, learning how ski-ing works, you will become a real JIRPer. No matter how sucky a day can be, the next day can always be better, and pushing through whatever hardship faces you during your time on the Juneau Icefield is what makes you a better person. So even if you’re stuck ski-stopping for a while, have faith, you will eventually start ski-ing.