KMS alumni, Jim Ryan (‘09), has become a recognizable name and face in the freeski industry. Known as a “hucker”, Jim is the kind of athlete who likes to ski fast and go big. Jim describes himself as “thick-legged, built for impact, and as having a healthy relationship with Earth’s gravitational forces”. These feats are noticeable in Jim’s video parts in Warren Miller Film’s “Face of Winter” (2018), “Timeless” (2019), and “Future Retro”,which is set to release in 2020.
This past spring, Jim found himself face-to-face with one of the hardest challenges of life: the unexpected loss of his childhood best friend. At first, Jim was able to turn to skiing to help him grieve and cope with losing his best friend. When skiing no longer became an outlet for coping, Jim looked for something “... all encompassing… something [he] was terrible at… something that would require attention and labor”. Enter “The Picnic”, a behemoth Jackson lore that consists of a “ 24-mile bike from Jackson Town Square to Jenny Lake; a 1.3-mile swim across the lake; a free solo ascent of the Grand Teton via the Owen-Spalding route–an extremely airy rock climb on the snowy north face of the summit block–and then all of it again in reverse”. A feat that few have attempted and even fewer have completed.
The ability to overcome adversity has always been one of the KMS core values. “The Picnic” forced Jim to stare adversity in the eye and look within himself to find the strength to help overcome not only the physical challenges life threw his way, but it also allowed him to work towards overcoming mental challenges. Part of the KMS mission is that our athletes and graduates will be able to face challenges with courage and grace. Eleven years after graduation, Jim Ryan is still living the core values of KMS and navigating through some of life’s hardest challenges with courage and grace.
You can read Jim’s personal account of “The Picnic” by following the link below: