Jans Teaming Up With The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance
By Julia Geisler
A little over a decade ago, I landed in Park City with my snowboard and my big red suitcase. I was coming straight off the travel bus. Having hiked the Appalachian Trail, traveled through South America and lived in Japan for the previous year, I was planning to stay in Park City just for a winter to be a ski bum and then hit the road again. That’s until I wandered into White Pine Touring and saw they had a rock climbing program. I had never climbed before, but thought that guiding rock climbing sounded like a fun summer job, so I asked for an application. That moment is when I met Charlie Sturgis, the former owner of White Pine Touring. Charlie, with his uber-friendly smile, took one look at me and said, “You’re hired! We need more women.”
From that point on Charlie became my climbing mentor. He taught me how to climb and guide climbing tours. Fast forward to a few years ago. Charlie and I were in IME, a local climbing shop in Salt Lake City. One of the guys who works there, Shingo, told Charlie that the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA) was looking for an Executive Director. Charlie reminded Shingo that he already ran Mountain Trails Foundation, but suggested that I apply for the SLCA position instead. I had no idea what SLCA was, nor did I know the first thing about running a non-profit. Charlie assured me that he would show me the ropes. I knew that if that was anything like him showing me how to rock climb, I was in for an adventure.
Five years later, I can honestly say that my climbing experience has been enriched through my advocacy work with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, I had no idea what “advocacy work” even meant. Now I know that it’s not just about the rock and sending the route. It’s about having a deeper connection to the places I love to climb through stewardship and a greater understanding of what goes into keeping access open to public and private lands for outdoor recreation. It’s about being a part of a greater community of outdoor enthusiasts. It’s about policy and laws that try to balance use on public land. It’s about connecting the outdoor industry and local businesses with the places they depend on to sell their climbing gear and guided experiences.
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