I Love Jumbo Wild: Leah Evans
You will all recognize Leah Evan’s smile from the Jumbo Wild ski shots. Born and raised in Rossland, BC, Leah is a pro skier, Patagonia ambassador and founder of Girls Do Ski, a company focused empowering girls to get out in the mountains and take the lead. Leah can usually be found ready to drop a chute that would make your stomach turn, her skis plastered in I Love Jumbo Wild stickers and her-tell smile lighting up her face.
Robyn Duncan, Jumbo Wild: When did you first hear about Jumbo Glacier Resort?
Leah Evans: I first heard about it when I was 13. My parents brought us up there on a fall camping trip. I ended up writing an essay on it at school when we got back.
RD: Wow, it must have made quite the impression. What did your essay say?
LE: I didn’t want to see a resort go in because I saw (first hand) how amazing it was up there.
RD: Do you remember what it was about being there in the Jumbo Valley that made it so special to you? The view? A feeling?
LE: Yes, totally…it will always be in my mind: the larch trees and their golden colour and the crisp blue water.
RD: So basically you’ve been a radical Jumbo Wilder since you were 13?
LE: Haha, yes, and that comes from my parents – they love it and really love being in nature like that.
RD: As you grew up, you got really into skiing, eventually becoming a professional free skier – has that shaped how you think of mountains? Of wilderness?
LE: I was actually always into skiing. I ski raced and wanted to be Nancy Green and then my parents couldn’t afford ski racing and I found out how much fun powder skiing was/is. I LOVE being outside. I feel strange if I’m not outside, I like being connected to nature and learning everything I can from it.
RD: As a skier, was there ever a part of you that thought it would be good to have a ski resort in jumbo?
LE: Hmm.. I’m not sure if I ever wanted a ski area in Jumbo. From a young age I was taught how important that area was for the bears and, heck, I had a great place to ski in my backyard…and in Nelson, Salmo, the list goes on.
RD: Your career has evolved and you are now a ski ambassador with Patagonia.
LE: Yes, and I’m super stoked about it. As I do more within skiing, I’ve realized that I don’t just want to be an action figure, I want to use my voice to speak for places/people who need help.
RD: You are one of the featured skiers in the Jumbo Wild film that came out this fall. Can you tell me what it was like to be part of making a film about an issue you’ve been passionate about since you were 13?
LE: A dream come true. It really made me realize that everything you do sets you up for some stage, and to be on the Jumbo stage was such a honour—as a person from the Koots [Kootenays], from BC, from Canada, and as a female and athlete. I’ve got a sticker on my skis and people ask me about it all the time.
RD: You toured around with the film throughout BC and the USA. What was the response to the film like?
LE: I did. In British Columbia, it was amazing how many people may have not known that this was happening in our own backyard, and in the USA it made me realize how much Canada and Jumbo is the promise land with its space and wild nature.
RD: One of the things that touched me so much throughout the tour was how many people resonated with the film and how it inspired action on land-use issues in their own backyard. Did you hear feedback like that when you were on the tour?
LE: Yes, for sure. It was amazing when we went to Durango in Colorado, as it sparked and resonated with the Wolfe Creek proposition that is happening in their own backyard. Jumbo is a global, local issue.
RD: You’re a professional skier who spends most of her time outdoors in the mountains. Do you think that people who recreate in the backcountry, in the wild, have a responsibility to protect it?
LE: Yes, for sure. Because like my parents did for me, I want to show my kids these wild spaces. It preserves a part of your own inner wild too.
RD: You have a unique perspective on the issue. You’re a local and a professional skier. There are so many reasons to oppose the Jumbo Glacier Resort, but what is the reason that stands out as the most important to you for keeping Jumbo Wild?
LE: We have enough. As a skier I’ve still been to Jumbo and didn’t need a lift. Also, as a skier it’s a really serious place to go skiing (terrain and snowpack) and once you put a lift in that valley the everyday skier will be exposed to some serious hazards. If people wanted a ski resort there, there would already be one there.
RD: Very good point. Why do you think people should take action and get involved in the campaign to Keep Jumbo Wild?
LE: Because we need to let the grizzly bears sleep in peace; it’s time to keep it wild forever. People should take action because this is our future.
RD: Before we wrap up, do you have anything else that you’d like to touch on?
LE: Everyone can make change. How are you going to do it? How can you help? I’ve been brainstorming myself how I can use my own platform to help and contribute.
RD: Jumbo’s lucky to have you on her side.