Kula Adventure Series - Kit DesLauriers, Professional Ski Mountaineer, Mother and Author
Hi Kula Community! I'm absolutely thrilled and honored to introduce the incredible Kit DesLauriers on the Kula adventure blog today. Kit is a professional ski mountaineer who is the first person in the world to ski off the seven summits. In addition, she was selected as one of the National Geographic Explorers of the Year in 2015 for her work merging science and adventure as a part of the We Are The Artic project (you can read her essay here).
The purpose of the Kula blog is to share stories about adventurers who are leading by example and paving the way for others to create change in the world of stewardship and Leave No Trace ethics. By reading the stories and the words of others who care deeply about the earth, our own resolve and our own ability to cultivate change is strengthened in a meaningful way.
Change doesn't happen overnight, but it starts with each of us. It starts by being consistent about adventuring with intention. It starts by taking little steps that have the ability to create a massive effect. A tiny stone can create a ripple that spreads across an entire pond. Similarly, each of us has that opportunity every single day. We can choose to do the small things that will have a bigger impact than we can ever imagine.
I'm so incredibly grateful to Kit and her willingness to share her story and her passion with the entire Kula Community.
Tell us who you are and what excites you most in life!
I am a mother, mountain climber, skier, ski mountaineer (professional at the last one!) plus a lover of all things wild including animals, places, and pursuits. I’m excited by challenges, big and small, internal and external. I’m also drawn to balancing out those challenges with grounding practices which sometimes includes quiet contemplation in the outdoors and other times attempting to find simple space between thoughts wherever I am.
What does Leave No Trace mean to you? Why is it so important?
Leave No Trace means to me, that we humans move through the natural world while doing it no harm. LNT is important because we are a part of this world and we depend on clean air, water, soil, yet to foul it is disrespectful to that which sustains us. I understand that some people may have a hard time drawing a parallel between their small actions and the big picture, but to belittle our individual role in keeping the planet clean and healthy is akin to saying that one spiteful comment in a marriage or relationship doesn’t have a negative impact. We all know that it does.
To draw another parallel, our country was founded on the principal that we are all created equal and our unalienable rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. At about the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 our world transitioned from home production of goods to mechanized factory production thanks to the invention of coal and steam power. This transition was the beginning of distancing ourselves from our connection to the natural environment and in my opinion, the beginning of a need to balance the pursuit of happiness as it relates to an easier life with the pursuit of happiness that comes with a deep connection to our surroundings. In our country, many people’s pursuit of happiness includes spending time in the natural world. Irrespective of assigning deep ecological beliefs of rights to the natural world, at the very least we can respect our fellow human beings’ pursuit of happiness and practice Leave No Trace ethics.
You are the first person in the world to ski the 7 summits! When did you decide to tackle this project, and is there an underlying mission that inspires your skiing in the mountains?
I decided to try to ski the 7 Summits (highest mountain on each continent) in May 2005 and completed the project with my descent from the summit of Mt Everest in October 2006. Skiing is my medium for exploring myself and my connection to the world. Back to the basics: I’m inspired by challenges both big and small, external and internal. While climbing Everest, I decided that I’d try to be less selfish (self-proclaimed!) and start a family after I got back. The journey of motherhood has been the best of one of my life.
Anything else you'd like to add with regards to Leave No Trace/ Stewardship?
When I was 19 I spent a summer in Alaska with National Outdoor Leadership School. It was so long ago that it was before NOLS had even coined the term LNT, yet the practices made total sense. I challenge anyone to go live outdoors for a couple of weeks straight and then question your thinking about preserving and protecting our shared natural world. I’ll venture to guess that the toilet paper you’ll inevitably see ‘hidden’ behind a tree on your next weekend hike will cut you to the core with a sense of sadness and a renewed commitment to your pursuit of happiness.
You can learn more about Kit and her incredible contributions to the world of ski mountaineering and stewardship here:
And you can find a link to Kit's book here: Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits
All photographs provided by and used with permission of Kit Deslauriers. Black and white portrait credit to: Clayton Boyd https://www.
Ski mountaineering photos, credit to Brittany Mumma