Chavarriaga scores a pow day in the Teton backcountry.

Essay

VANESSA CHAVARRIAGA POSADA

THANKS TO SNOW: FINDING SPACE IN NEW HEIGHTS

Do you remember the first time you saw the snow? Long before moving to Jackson Hole, WY, and becoming a professional mountain athlete and advocate for access, I was a small child in a new world. This place was intimidating, a natural environment that was completely unfamiliar and far away from Colombia, the only home I’d ever known. My life now is far larger than I ever could have imagined as a child, and a large part of that is thanks to snow.

But it didn’t start that way. All of my early memories of snow are pretty negative: getting lost in the suburbs of my aunt’s West Michigan neighborhood because everything looked the same. My parents’ frustration with not understanding how snow pants, gloves and base layers worked. The feeling of getting left behind as all of my classmates spent time in ski lessons and on mountain vacations with their families. Seeing snow for the first time, however, was a different beast entirely…

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