Rise to the challenge – FACE IT, DON’T FLEE IT!

I’m here at the moment in a sport’s rehabilitation centre in France recovering from my shoulder surgery. I’ve been told I will probably not regain full mobility with my arm… But how many times have I been told that I won’t be able to do something in my lifetime of 46 years!

As a youngster, I would come back from my winter holidays and say, I want to be a ski instructor, my brother would say, “that’s not a real job”… I went on to join the Austrian ski school in the early 90s before going to university. I then worked as a ski rep for PGL school ski holidays, where I met a snowsport’s instructor who I fell madly in love with (and looking back, I think I must have been mad at the time!). When I said I liked the idea of doing the job of a ski patroller… he replied, “that won’t be possible, you can’t ski!”.

I went on just under ten years later in 2007 to pass the formidable French ski test and gain a place on the sought after ‘Pisteur Secouriste’ (ski patrol) training and earned the 1st degree.

In my workplace, the ski resort’s name I won’t mention, many of my male colleagues said I didn’t have the experience to go to the next level. I soon rose to the challenge and gained a place at ENSA, the renown Alpine school in Chamonix to do the 2nd degree – which I passed.

This was when I was given the privilege of taking on a puppy with the French fire brigade mountain rescue unit to train as an avalanche search and rescue dog handler. Again, I was told that I was probably not up to the standard to pass the exams. But when I left for the course two years later, my boss just said with no encouragement for my own competence in this field, that “I had a good dog”. I passed the 2-week course with flying colours. It is often said a dog is what it’s owner makes it.

Maybe every time I am goaded, the fire in my belly gives me the force to go forward in these male-dominated professions. I have learnt that even if someone says I’m not capable, and yet I feel the capacity deep down – I keep pushing forward. Also in those bleak moments, and we all have them, I get outdoors with my best friend, my dog Fjord. I feel so much better after a stride into the hills in the rawness of nature. I am now channelling my energy into educating British children on mountain safety, viewed through the eyes of Fjord, my search and rescue dog. Don’t be put off by a challenge, RISE to the challenge and push through, it will make you stronger. We all need a purpose in life!

Submitted by Caroline Elliott – visit her website or follow her on YouTubeFacebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Published by Hetty Key

If I'm outside I'm happy! Fell running, mountain biking, climbing or skiing I just love getting out and pushing myself as hard as I can. As a women in adventure, I have found female role models really inspiring and motivating. There are definite moments I have really doubted myself and considered packing something in or giving up, but it's at these points looking to someone I can relate to, be that a friend or pro, really helps. Though this project I would love to find more of this type of relateable inspiration as well as being part of the wider movement to help remove any barriers to participation. Visit my site Mud, Chalk & Gears