Janelle Smiley is all about firsts. It’s not her intention to get firsts but it seems to happen often. She was the first woman to ascend the South Face of Mount Waddington. She was the first woman to climb Mount Saint Elias—and ski down it on the longest vertical run in the world. Janelle was the first and only woman to cross the entire Alps on skis or foot. Her most impressive first yet: attempting all of the climbing routes from the world famous guidebook Fifty Classic Climbs of North America, in a shared project between Janelle and her husband. That’s over 150k vertical feet.
What’s been your biggest achievement in life? Or last week?
The Committed Project: I never realized just how much commitment it would actually take. I thought we could tackle all 50 routes in about two years. It took seven, to attempt something no one has done before. The feeling is indescribable. And to share that with Mark was such a gift. When we first met, I didn’t know what our future would look like. We just knew it wouldn’t be boring.
What drives you to keep on getting out there time after time, to do more, to experience more?
It gives me life to go out and push myself to see what is possible, I just really love it!! Everyone has something that gets them going. Whether it’s climbing, skiing, filming, cooking, whatever. Physically pushing my mind and body, overcoming obstacles and fear to reach a summit for the first time is really inspiring. I live for experiences. I want to one day look back on my life and think, that was wild. Whatever inspires you, make the choice to fill your life with it.
Why do you use GORE-TEX gear?
I’ve been using GORE-TEX products for as long as I can remember. I rely on them completely. I wear them when I’m climbing remote mountains . Skiing down an untouched run. Traversing for days in freezing temperatures. Through every high, and every low, they’re with me. And I can just focus on whatever challenge I’m facing.
In ten words or less, what would you say you’re “made for...”?
Experiencing the gift of life to its fullest..
Our Mount Saint Elias expedition was one of the most epic things I’ve done. You ski from 18,000 feet down to the ocean. It’s unreal. I felt so grateful to stand on the summit in such perfect conditions with two incredible partners. Blue sky. Ocean below. GORE-TEX products kept everything out. Snow, rain , streams, cold. It didn’t get to me. I love adventure, I never want to miss out, and I always love to cover as much ground as possible.
- First and only woman in a team of men to cross the entire Alps in a record time of 36 days , 1,917km ski-and-foot route from Vienna, Austria across the Alps to Nice, France
- FKT (Fastest Known Time) of the Teton Grand Traverse in Wyoming, U.S. Normally a 3-day expedition with 12,000ft (3,700m) elevation. Time of 12 hours 17 minutes
- First woman to climb and ski down Mount Saint Elias in Alaska, U.S. Elevation: 5,500m.
- First woman to ski down Huandoy Este in Peru. Elevation: 6,800m.
- First woman to climb South Face of Mount Waddington, in B.C., Canada. Elevation: 4,000m.
- 7x Ski Mountaineering Champion.