Skiing in the Shower

Confessions of a Mountain Girl

This is not to say I won't be up for the odd ski trip now and then, but the focus of my life is changing. For more details, keep reading. If you get the gist and want to grab a spot on one of the last fantastic ski adventures I'm running this year, just go here: and grab your spot as soon as possible, then come back and read the rest. :)

I started working as a ski instructor in February of the 2006/07 season, where I met my first coach, Mike Hickey and my first training partner, Shannon Griffin. I was a total newb, a lousy skier, and an overweight and slightly unhappy mom of 2 very young children. Skiing has changed my life in so many unbelievably positive ways.

When I started skiing, it was because I needed affordable care for my kids so I could get some exercise and feel like a person outside of the tragic circumstances that had brought us to Montana. (My painting studio had burned to the ground and we had lost our business all in the space of a week, but that's another story.)

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First trip to Whistler as a traveling instructor

Little did I know that Bridger Bowl's offer for me to teach skiing would lay before me a decade of challenge and growth which would help me heal from so many things in my life. I was unhappy when I started NOT because I was overwhelmed by recent tragedy, but because I didn't know where my own self worth was. I had lost my compass over time, and skiing, and the people in it, gave me a road map for continual self-examination. I was constantly set the task for becoming better, not just as a skier, teacher, and colleague, but as a person. This meant facing who I thought I was, how I was perceived, and stepping willingly into who I knew I was capable of becoming.

Growth is challenging and it split up my marriage, and it's a good thing it did. Over the next twelve years, I sank my teeth into the life raft of a new life, a new sport, a new group of misfit friends, and didn't let go. And it saved me. Because it forced me to save myself.

I have no words for the gratitude I have for the people in my life who pulled me into their arms, folded me into the ski world, and made me feel, finally, like I belonged somewhere, giving me a challenging and demanding laboratory in which to work on myself. This revelation that there was a family of like minded people - people who wanted to challenge themselves to be the best version of themselves, people who were strong, hard, undaunted by weather, fear, or physical challenge, people who could 'rally', people who gave selfless hours and hours of instruction for the benefit of the growth of those struggling hard to understand, this revelation made me resolve to give back to the community. They didn't know they had saved my sanity and helped me become someone I could be proud of, but that's what they did, and would continue to do.

I realized this about the ski world about three weeks into my foray into skiing. I looked around, and I noticed that the people who did this the best, the people who could really give everything they had in service to the development of others, the people who could send a lifeline out to people like me, these were the educators, the team members, the directors of ski programs. I set my sights high. I wanted to become who I was capable of becoming, not an expert skier, but a person who could first grow themselves into a whole person, and then extend that courtesy to others. Far from the reaches of everything I had known and everyone who had known me. I wanted to invent myself into a version of Kate who had never been touched by doubt, fear or judgement. I divorced myself from my past and threw myself into my own development with an eye towards doing that same service to anyone I could find along the way who needed to learn to believe in themselves.

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First back country trip in a new land with a stranger for a partner: Big Girl Pants Time

Along the way, I found clients who became friends, who became champions. Peter C. was the first ski client I ever traveled internationally with, and his faith, trust and support made me realize that I could do this, I could make trips and help people travel without fear, and Transformational Adventures was born because of him. Ten years later, I was honored to be a grooms woman at his wedding to a wonderful, adventurous woman who I adore. Skiing has woven us into each other's lives in a way that has been an agent for powerful change. This has happened with so many of you, on so many trips, here in Aspen or navigating the steeps at Chatter Creek.

It's been a brilliant twelve years. There's more for me to say than I could ever say in one simple email. I need to express amazement at the support of companies who took me on board as an athlete, who sponsored me and my camps and trips and made this dream possible. There is so much as I reflect back that it is overwhelming.

And, when enough time has passed, I will probably write more about it. But for now, the point of this email is that we all come to a place in our lives where we realize paths are shifting, and it's time for me to look toward a different future. My time in the ski world is ending.

As many of you know, I went through breast cancer last year, and this is not such an usual thing. We caught it early and it should have been exceptionally straight forward, and, indeed, I skied through the whole thing, biopsies and a well done surgery. In March I began precautionary radiation, even though they had gotten the whole tumor. I had a violent negative reaction to that treatment, and we stopped and restarted it as we tried to figure out how to safeguard me against further cancers without injuring me more with the cure.

In the long run, I spent most of this past summer slowly healing and relapsing from my extreme reaction to the radiation, but things weren't going right. I was in the emergency room so many times that I lost count. I couldn't breathe, I felt like someone was strangling me, I had pain all over my body, I got confused, dizzy, my heart rate dropped below 30 and my blood pressure plummeted. Every test said I was exceptionally healthy. But I felt like I was dying. We looked at every possibility from April through just a few weeks ago as I struggled to remember what it felt like to be healthy.

Eventually, we found that it was likely my lung had been damaged by radiation, and my nervous system completely confused and misfiring from that trauma. Cleared from many scary tests (and I had every test we could think of), I was finally sent to Neurology where several frightening possibilities presented themselves. I was staring down the barrel of this ski season, worried I was never going to get healthy again, and still planning trips thinking there was no way I wouldn't heal. Every woman I knew in ski school who had had breast cancer had come back to teach the next season. I had assumed that would be me, too.

And it is. But this is my last, my farewell tour, and as much as I love Cher and won't rule out a reunion tour (and I promised Jonathan "No absolutes", it feels like the right time to say goodbye.

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Antics with Jennifer, in skiing I found extraordinary, life-long, equally wonderfully maladjusted friends.

In Neurology, we've found a path forward, finally. I am emerging from the cloud of fear and the strange sensation of living in a body that was refusing to heal and become strong. Because of all the gifts of my ski family, I have become a resilient person.

Megan had taught me to power through and find the next target, Jonathan had taught me I had more energy and will than I even knew, Kurt had taught me there was no point in stopping or looking back, when in doubt, go higher. Andy had taught me that I had a strong, willing, loving support network. My incredible ski girlfriends, Jennifer, Athena, Kim and Laura had taught me that there was trust, I could fall apart and they would still love me, and I them, regardless of whether any of us were trapped on the couch or sliding on skis. Cindy had taught me there was life after skiing.

And here we are, a month into the best snow we've had in Aspen since the epic year I first came here on a recruiting tour, and stood at the top of Sodbuster with Megan standing next to me chanting, "Remember every turn, it will never be like this again in our lifetime." It was 2007 and I was going to move to Aspen, and she was my guiding light.

A few days ago, I wrote a letter to Andy, Jonathan and Josh, and to my partners in my ski travel business, Catherine and Candy. The time has come for me to leave the ski industry. I am positive and happy coming out of this summer, I feel better every day with the help of the incredible Neurology team. My energy is coming back, my balance is great, my vertigo is gone, so many of the worrying symptoms are disappearing, making this season an opportunity to celebrate.

I am skiing this season. I am playing with clients in Aspen, and running my last set of trips for my travel company. I am so happy to be able to get on snow. To laugh and play and train and enjoy and celebrate and say thank you. This decade of my life has been an incredible gift, and I want to share how grateful I am with all of you.

The 2018/19 season is my swan song, my farewell tour, a chance to say thank you to all of you, my friends and ski clients who have bravely traveled all over the world, pushed yourselves to become the best version of yourself, and joined in my journey as I worked toward my goal of making it onto the National Alpine Team. At this time last year, I was strong, fit and raring to go, the plan had been to try out for the last time in 2020. Things look very different now, and that's okay.

One thing I've learned is to listen to my body, and my body is done. I'm grateful to be healing, grateful to have a chance to say happy and tearful goodbyes this season, excited to enjoy a season on skis one last time, and happy and excited about my future.

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Skiing took me to places I previously had never realized were possible for me. Skiing showed me that the only thing holding any of us back is the idea that we might not be good enough. Lose that idea, and suddenly, you are on the summit.

Things have such a strange way of working out, Tom, my ex-husband and I, are back together in a wonderfully functional much healthier version of ourselves. Slow and steady, we are finding that we make a great team. We were almost immediately thrown a huge challenge, facing and overcoming cancer, together. To be together, and to survive that curve ball and emerge happy and whole, we both had needed to be apart for a decade and do a lot of self-examination and growth, which we did, diligently and separately, never dreaming our paths would converge again. But they have, and we couldn't be more pleased. We will be moving with our children to Europe in July of 2020, where I will be pursuing a master's degree in fine art, Bodhi will be finishing high-school at a visual arts school, and Ethan will be taking a gap year after graduating high-school.

I want to say thank you for being a part of my journey, and for allowing me to be a part of yours.

If you've been waiting to come on one of our ski trips, this is your last chance! I have a team of amazing coaches who will be traveling with us, we are well supported by our friends in every location we will visit this year, and I am excited to travel with you, be on snow with you one last time, and celebrate all that a life in the mountains can give to us.

Because of health issues over the summer, I wasn't sure that trips would run this year, and because of that, we have all of the trips paid for, seats open, and lots of room on each trip. We have amazing coaches lined up: Jennifer Simpson at Big Red, Reilly Mc Glashan or JT Williams and Emily Longfellow in Japan, Brian and Aleks Smith in Switzerland and Kim Mann at Chatter.

Let's celebrate the amazing snow this year, how lucky we are to be connected by a love of the mountains and skiing, and make this final year the best one yet!

Here's to sliding with joy into the future,

much love

Kate Howe

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My mom and sister came to my first PSIA National Team Tryouts to be with me during results. What incredible support for a shoot for the stars mission.

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