Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn


Uncertainty. Most of us avoid it with everything we’ve got. We grasp tightly to what we know. We seek out safety, stability and confirmation. We aspire to be in control. In fact, most of us have spent most of our lives learning skills to help us stay in control. Whether it’s on mountain slopes, in a classroom or at a business meeting, we practice repetitive behaviors that are meant to keep us composed, certain and, ultimately, safe.

So what about the risk takers? What about those people who willingly leap into the unknown? Those people get ideas that haunt them, that push and drive them until they step into unchartered territory.

Some may call it insanity. Others call it faith. Webster’s Dictionary defines faith as a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof” or “complete trust.” Belief and trust, like love, are totally intangible and yet they are the catalysts for evolution—evolution of self, evolution of consciousness, evolution of humanity.

And what inspires faith? Love. Passion. Curiousity. Desire. The belief that there is something more to life than what is being experienced. There comes a time when safety and certainty no longer offer satisfaction. And that is when we choose to explore what else is possible in ourselves, on this earth and even, perhaps, in the universe.

Jackson Hole is home to lots of physical risk takers. We are known as a mountain community of extremists pushing ourselves on jagged peaks, exploring our potential and our limits. Why do we do this? Because it makes us feel alive. It’s about living life 100 percent. When dancing on that fine line between fear and faith, we have two choices: to retreat toward the certainty of safety or leap wholeheartedly toward what is possible.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out. People get hurt. Sometimes they die. These are consequences that seasoned athletes understand as potential reality. And yet they continue to go for it.

It seems that once they have tasted the sweet flavor of uncertainty, once they have surrendered their souls to the mountains and the unknown, they long for more. The sheer love of the experience supercedes fear and vulnerability.

And that’s when the magic happens. It’s no longer about proving how gnarly you are. It’s not about checking something off the bucket list or pushing physical capabilities. All of a sudden, at that moment of surrender, when they turn their board or skis downhill, the mind gets clear, the ego falls away and it’s about becoming one with the moment—fully present, alive, and in the flow of life.

Ever interested in understanding and connecting to that flow of life and what it’s like to leap into it, I sought out five very accomplished extreme mountain athletes who were willing to share their perspectives on love and fear and being present on the razor’s edge between life and death. They also spoke about how those feelings relate to everyday life.


“I’m interested in sustainable riding. We all want to come home at the end of the day,” says world renowned Snowboarder Travis Rice.

Yes, these athletes, are committed and disciplined in their craft. They are not egomaniacs carelessly hucking themselves for cameras. They put their time in logging hours both on the snow and in the gym to hone their bodies and their skills before they are ready to leap. It’s their job and they take it seriously.

“When it comes to a big physical risk, it’s not frivolous. You have to put the time in with the training and education. Showing up day after day and practicing. That’s how you gain confidence and get the trust. I put in the work. It’s the daily grind. The trust comes because you’ve put the time in and you’ve built upon things,” says skier Lynsey Dyer.

“When you see it on the screen it looks crazy, but what they don’t show is how much has been put into it….When you practice as much as I do, it’s comfortable,” says snowboarder Rob Kingwill. “You learn to make things more effortless. When you are just beginning, you get beat up and it takes so much of you. Ultimately, you learn to move with the mountains
versus fighting against them.”


A full sensory experience, staying innocent and trusting your intuition is necessary for being successful when the risks are so high.

“You have to take time to listen,” warns Rice. “To truly know something, you have to become it. There are so many whispering signs showing the danger – signs everywhere you look, in the snow, in the temperature. There is a beauty of not going into it with preconceived notions. I walk the line between years of experience
making it easy to fall into habit and keeping open to
new signs and the unexpected.”

Snowboarder Bryan Iguchi agrees: “I grew up as a skateboarder and a surfer. As a kid surfing, I had to learn to wait for everything to come together. Skill. The weather. The waves. Everything has to come together for it all to work out. When everything feels right, you’re in the zone. It’s hard to put into words. You just feel it, then you know.”

Iguchi also trusts when it’s time to say no. “A key to survival in the mountains and in life is trusting my gut. When in doubt it’s better to just walk away from it. If I get up there and I can’t clear my mind, if I can’t visualize it going right, or something doesn’t feel right, I won’t do it.”

Rice concurs: “When you make the leap, if you bring hesitation, if you don’t visualize the landing, it’s probably not going to work out.”


These athletes are not fearless, in fact their respect for risk is immense. But rather than turning away from uncertainty and what is scary, they chose to face it head on and look within.

“It’s interesting how massive risk show us how powerful we can be,” Dyer explains. “The thing we are afraid of shows us what we are made of.” Rice feels the same way. “Putting myself in uncomfortable situations, that’s how I’ve learned the most about myself,” he says.

Climber and Freerider Kelly Halpin finds that risk forces her to quiet her mind. “Risk helps us get back in touch with a survival thing that we really don’t need anymore. Absolutely putting yourself out there on the edge makes you feel more alive. It puts you in the moment, the real moment…You use the fear to get total clarity.”


Unquestionably, these risk takers are choosing to do so because it makes them feel alive and connected to everything that is around them. While they take risk and their job seriously, they also love what they do, and they let that love consume them.

The Power of the Mind - Share this...Biofeedback and Visual Imagery for Healing and Performance Successful athletes visualize success before they’ve succeeded. The 90% mental, 10% physical percentage illustrates the power of the mind in relationship to the body. And if athletes happen to encounter an injury, they can use these same visualization skills to heal. The sophisticated power of the…


“It’s about those moments of stoke when you feel alive and engaged,” says Kingwill. “That balance of progressing your skills that you can let go and let spirit move through. It’s a wonderful feeling to let if flow through you. One of the cool things about being a winter athlete is you get to see that breath—that force flowing through you.”


Most importantly, these athletes are aware that what they are doing in the mountains is teaching them about living their everyday lives.

Through both her accomplishments and challenges in skiing Dyer learned, “I had to find self-acceptance. I realized that anything we resist in ourselves can block our power,” she says.

Rice has learned about himself as well. “Snowboarding has been the tool for me to open up and unlock my creativity and open-mindedness that anything is possible,” he confesses. “My biggest aspiration is my conscious decision to take what I’ve learned in these extreme situations into my daily life—to take the peace of mind that I have in the mountains and bring it down.”

Kingwill recognizes that “snowboarding has taught me about being in that slow state, being present, mindful,” he says. As a result, he shares what he’s learned with his Live Activated Technique, based on his coaching techniques and when he’s “in the mountains and scared to death.” It’s geared toward being a freestyle athlete, but is applicable to just about any challenge and teaches how to calm down your amygdala and choose a path that calms your fear. It also helps people understand how their brain works. You can check out the technique at

While courage, perseverance, discipline and strength are all necessary for launching into exposed terrain, the ultimate factor is trust. Trust in the self, faith in the experience. It is an act of love. Every leap is a belief that the flow of life will take you on the ride of your life.

About the Author

Samantha Eddy
Samantha Eddy loves to connect the dots of body, mind, and spirit and how the inner and the outer world mirror each other.  She is the founder of Teton Spirit Connection, an online resource and semi-annual magazine featuring holistic wellness in the greater Jackson Hole and Teton area. She owns Spirit: Books, Gifts, Life in Wilson, WY. She is also an energetic facilitator for expanding and clearing consciousness.

Read Next

Week of the New SolLunar Cycle in Capricorn - Share this...Star Signposts: New SolLunar Cycle ~ January 16 – 23 New SolLunar Cycle in Capricorn “Sedona Cathedral” photo by Lyn Dalebout (above) The places I go for spiritual reflection and renewal ~ my churches ~ are most always in the wild outdoors. I grew up as an avid skier and hiker in the granite…
Leap of Faith: Extreme Athletes on Fear and Trust - Share this...  Uncertainty. Most of us avoid it with everything we’ve got. We grasp tightly to what we know. We seek out safety, stability and confirmation. We aspire to be in control. In fact, most of us have spent most of our lives learning skills to help us stay in control. Whether it’s on mountain…
Week of the Last Quarter Moon in Virgo - Share this...Star Signposts: Last Quarter Moon ~ January 8 – 15, 2018  Last Quarter Moon “Seeding Possibility” poem and paintings by Trea Christopher Grey Thank you, dear friends, Trea Christopher Grey and Kimall Christensen, for the gift of your futuristic, positive oracle, Worlds of Good Fortune, no better way to honor, in art, the beginning of the New Year…
Happy New Year! A Full Moon to Welcome You to 2018! - Share this...Star Signposts: Full Moon ~ January 1 – 7 2018 Full Moon in sidereal Gemini/Sagittarius “Igniting Passions” painting by Trea Christopher Grey (above) This Moon is Super for several reasons. Astronomically, such close proximity of the Moon to Earth always heightens and amplifies the emotional waves of everyone, even the animals and plants. In addition,…
Week of the First Quarter Moon - Share this...Star Signposts: First Quarter Moon ~ December 26-31 First Quarter Moon “Simply Here” poem and paintings by Trea Christopher Grey   Thank you, dear friends, Trea Christopher Grey and Kimall Christensen, for the gift of your futuristic, positive oracle, Worlds of Good Fortune, no better way to honor, in art, the beginning of the New Year of 2018.…
Week of the New SolLunar Cycle in Sidereal Sagittarius - Share this...Star Signposts: New SolLunar Cycle/First Quarter Moon ~ December 17 – 25 New SolLunar Cycle in sidereal Sagittarius “Emergence” detail of painting by Trea Christopher Grey (above) Ah. Deep in-breath. A sigh of out-breath. We have arrived at years’ end as well as the beginning promise of a New Year. Winter Solstice takes place on…
The Edge of Possible - Share this...An Extreme Athlete’s Vision Quest: My quest began at 2:00 pm on September 17, 2014 in Grand Teton National Park as I plunged my toes into the icy water of Jenny lake and started the first phase of the “Around-the-Clock” triathlon, my personally-created endurance (or as I like to call it: sufferfest) test. But…
What Do YOU Want? - Share this...When was the last time you sat, really sat and asked yourself, “What do I want in this life – in my profession – in my relationships, etc?” I don’t mean for 10 minutes at your counter with coffee in the morning, or the flittering thoughts as you’re driving to a meeting or to…
Week of the Last Quarter Moon in Leo - Share this...Star Signposts: Last Quarter Moon December 10-16 Last Quarter Moon “Life at the Edge” painting by Susan Pitcairn Here is a description of the qualities of the Last Quarter Moon phase compliments of my friend and sidereal colleague, Nick Anthony Fiorenza at Lunar Planner: “This phase completes with our Inner Needs surfacing to consciousness, to become aware…
Week of the Full Moon In Sidereal Taurus Scorpio - Share this...Star Signposts: Full Moon/Last Quarter Moon December 3 – 9 Full Moon in sidereal Taurus Scorpio “Precious Waters” painting by Susan Pitcairn (above) This week’s Full Moon/Super Moon on destabilizing steroids is intimately linked to the unfolding planetary political dramas. The Moon is aligned with Aldebaran, Taurus the Bull’s red eye, ruler of the House…
Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply