Inside outside with jenny råghall
Not only is Jenny Råghall an incredibly fast mountain runner and ski mountaineer with several first-place finishes in the infamous Keb Classic competition, but she’s also one of Sweden’s foremost avalanche experts and the country’s first female alpine mountain rescuer. With a résumé like that, she’s also a great inspiration for the rest of us. We spoke with Jenny about some of the important elements in her life.
What Does Skiing Mean to You?
Without exception, and regardless of my mood, I'm always happiest sliding along on a pair of skis. There’s just something about the freedom inherent in that particular movement—it’s engrossing, joyful, liberating. I compete in “skimo”—ski-mountaineering races with a speed suit and pin-thin touring skis—so my everyday training during the winter often consists of racking-up vertical metres near a ski area, or skate-skiing on well-prepared tracks.
Of course, the best is skiing among real mountains somewhere in Sweden or Norway. Being a climate criminal just because I love to ski doesn’t sit well with my conscience, so I like to stick close to home and be under my own power. I prefer long days with a few technical moments like traveling over a glacier or a bit of climbing. Maybe several mountains and a few different lines if there’s sun, stable snow and friends I can trust in any situation, with whom I can discuss safety, and, above all, have fun.
What’s It Like to Have a Job Looking at Snow and Avalanches?
For half the year I have the best job in the world as an avalanche technician and consultant for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Since 2018, I’ve been responsible for developing and running the avalanche forecast area encompassing the Kebnekaise mountains—Sweden’s highest range. Those days involve fieldwork on snowmobile, skis, or both, but there’s no better office view imaginable! Of course, the weather can also be extremely harsh to work in, but that’s also part of the charm—being small and humble in the face of nature’s fury.
In addition to 10 years of avalanche forecasting, I’m also an instructor for Sweden's Avalanche Training Institute SVELAV, teaching all avalanche course levels. And, of course, I also manage a few public lectures about avalanches, especially pre-season.
What’s Your Involvement with Alpine Mountain Rescue?
Since 2018, I’ve been part of Alpina Mountain Rescue, one of two mountain-rescue organizations in Sweden. We often work cooperatively with police aircraft in rescuing people who for some reason need help in alpine terrain. There’s something attractive about being involved in an operation where there’s 100% focus on safety for everyone involved, then be able to extend a helping hand to the person who needs rescue in an environment that for them can seem frightening.
How Did You First Encounter Tierra?
I started working as a guide at Kebnekaise Mountain Station in 2011, and the clothing was exclusively Tierra. Thank goodness—12-hours of walking/climbing to the top of Kebnekaise with guests up to five times a week demanded the kind of robust clothing Tierra is known for.
Which Tierra Garments Are Absolute Must-have’s?
I can’t live without the Belay 120 Hood Jacket. It’s warm, light and incredibly useful year-round—both because I hate freezing and for its value in possible emergencies. The versatile Ace Pant has also been a favorite for a long time.
How Do You Relax?
If I’m on a mountain, I usually stop at some point and just breathe. See all the beauty. Feel it. Take it all in. Release. Then move on. Otherwise, I prioritize getting in a quarter-hour of breathing, relaxation, meditation or body-scanning every day around lunchtime. I feel it makes me a better person and mother—not to mention better able to maintain focus for the rest of the day.