One of just eight internationally certified female guides in Canada, Jen Olson has guided and adventured some of the highest peaks this world has to see. All the way from Canada, to Pakistan, Nepal and some of the most exotic, hard-to-pronounce peaks in South America (Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Ilinizas and Tunguraua anybody?).
That’s an impressive outdoor adventure resume by any standards, but now she’s adding to the list in a big, glamorous way. This Canmore-based mountain guide has her bags packed for yet another adventure: representing Canada in ice climbing as a Cultural Event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Getting to the Olympics required you to fund competitions and travel yourself. How has the ice climbing community and fellow Canadians supported you in this journey?
Many have donated money in a time when generally people don't have a lot to give. People cheering me on and telling me that my journey is meaningful to them or to the sport has also been really big.
What do you expect the 2014 Sochi Olympics will do for the sport of Ice Climbing?
Raise the profile of the sport – hopefully making it more accessible for people both in availability of guides and equipment. It’ll also help to change the public belief that ice climbing is a high-risk activity.
What are you most excited about/ looking forward to at Sochi?
Seeing the ocean and the mountains close together. Also meeting Canadian Olympians and sharing the sport of ice climbing!
You are one of only several women competing in this event. What does it mean to represent Canada in this way at the Olympics?
I feel so honoured to share my passion with other Canadians and the world.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the travel and adventure… exploring the wilderness and connecting with like-valued people.
You’re such a role model for all Canadians, and particularly women. What advice can you give to those trying to achieve a goal that can sometimes feel out of reach?
Take it one step at a time. Perseverance. Dream big, but have a plan B. Sometimes the Plan B ends up being better than the dream!
Although the Olympics are the next big thing on the horizon, what adventures do the rest of 2014 hold for you?
Some new endeavours in writing and maybe training in broadcasting! And lots more climbing.
Tune in on your TV and see if you can spot Jen amongst the Canadian athletes. Wishing her lots of luck and safe and speedy climbing in Sochi!
Support Jen’s journey by visiting her website: jenolson.ca and donate a dime or two using the “paypal” button. For Olympic updates check out her Facebook page (Jen Olson) and twitter feed (@mountaingurrl).