Marissa Klein attended her fourth Rippin Chix ski camp in 2020 and will likely be back for a fifth. She traveled from Boise to Nelson, BC, to participate at the Whitewater Resort location because “It’s great to have experience, tools, and confidence early in the season. I keep going because it’s a great way to brush up on skills before I head back out to do something wild.”

She has attended fancier clinics with après and yoga, but she loves Rippin’ Chix because of the small group numbers and no frills.  “It draws more people who are serious about skiing. That’s all they are there to do. They’re not there to be wined and dined. They are there to learn to ski better.”

Last year Klein attended with her daughter-in-law, who is an intermediate skier. “She had a great time, and it gave her a lot of confidence.”

And Klein also found what she was looking for: a challenge. “In the group I was in, I was just barely hanging on for my life. All the women in my group were all from Canada, all 50-ish, all really good skiers.”

Kristin Wenzel from Spokane was also up from the U.S. When asked what she wants to learn from the weekend, Wenzel isn’t sure. Like all of us, she wants to get better, and like a lot of us, she isn’t sure precisely what that means. It’s hard to know how you want to improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.

A Rippin Chix skier goes down a steep and deep run.
A Rippin’ Chix skis the steeps. // Photo: Jeff Thomas.

That’s the magical element of these camps. A good instructor can tell you want you’re doing wrong, but a great instructor can suggest incremental changes that allow you to feel what it’s like to do it right. She gives you mantras to remember in a context that will make the small corrections stick.

Wenzel started the day skiing, in her words, like an “action figure.” Her legs were rigid, and she was stiff through the shoulders. As she traveled down the slope, her skis and body pointed to one side of the slope. When she initiated a turn, her head, hips, and shoulders, and skis all pointed to the opposite slope.

At the end of the first day, Wenzel and I debriefed in the sauna at the Adventure Hotel, which was lit up by the world’s smallest disco ball. She was starting to feel looser and found it easier to keep her chest pointed downhill.

“I was impressed,” she says. I liked it a lot. Going into it I was worried about how you could actually get $500 worth of information in 2 days.” But the download of information and opportunity for practice and correction was so helpful that “even if I had to go home right, now I wouldn’t be mad,” she says.

The full endorsement for the camp came after day two. “At the end of the day, even though skiing much harder terrain, I felt equipped to just go with it…Lines that I normally wouldn’t have picked to ski, I was choosing them and feeling good about how they went.”

On the calendar right now are Alta, Utah on Feb. 11-12 and March 20-21. The dates for the British Columbia-based camps are Jan. 16-17 at Whitewater, Feb. 8-10 for Backcountry Snowcats, and Feb. 21-23 for a ski touring camp at Journeyman Lodge. It’s hard to say if the border will be open by then, but if it’s not, consider saving for next year’s camp.

Coach Meredith toasts to a great day. // Photo: Trish Bromley.

Summer Hess plans to attend an avalanche rescue course with the Selkirk Powder Guides this winter.