ADVENTURER PROFILE: JULIA PICKERING

Have you heard of Julia Pickering? You may have if you are an adventurer or move in adventuring circles. This is a profile of her; one of the world’s greatest adventurers. Only 35, she is a veteran adventurer, a snowboard mountaineer par excellence… Oh and a husky dog fanatic! She was the first female and the second only person ever to have climbed and snowboarded the three highest peaks in the Arctic Circle.  More recently she trekked deep into Alaska to scale the remote Mount Bear, height- a mere 4,520 metres.

Julia grew up in a small village in the Ribble valley, in Lancashire, Northwest England. She now lives in the Lake District during Summer, but is out and about in her solar-powered wood-burning-stove-equipped thirty years old mobile home. She began her love affair with snowboarding at 23, which is quite late. As with many snowboarders, she began by skiing and then moved on to snowboarding. That led her into rock climbing and hiking because she wanted to get more and more off-piste and deeper into the mountains.

Going to Alaska was a dream come true for Julia- it allowed her to indulge all of her pleasures in one place. She decided to climb Mount Bear, one of the top 20 highest mountains in the US, deep in the Wrangle St Elias mountain range that is quite difficult to access. Unfortunately the weather was really bad, at the summit of Mount Bear it was minus 45! The actual ascent took much longer than planned and afterwards she was trapped in base camp for a week because of relentless snow and wind. She just had barely enough supplies before the plane finally made it to pick her up.

Julia loves the self-sufficiency of hiking. You have to rely on your own efforts (and those of your accompanying hikers) and the achievement of reaching a destination be it a mountain top, a glacier, or the foot of a steep ravine on a snowboard. She also likes the views and the experiences of the far north, especially aurora borealis (the Northern Lights).

She was asked recently if there was a particular mountain that she would like to climb and descend. It was her namesake mountain- Mount Julia in the Watkins range. She plans to hike/climb to the top of it and then snowboard down it.

Julia also goes in for some of the more “fringe” sports and pastimes associated with snow, such as ski joring, which is essentially driving a horse or dog on skis. Fort example it can mean putting harnesses on two very badly behaved Siberian huskies and letting them pull her around! There’s also snow kiting- where you are pulled along on your skis or snowboard by the wind alone.

I wonder if Julia does any less extreme (and more boring) snow-related pursuits like throwing snowballs or building a snowman?!

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