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Wiles: Quarantine Catch-Up

By Megan Harrod
June, 13 2020
Jackie Wiles
Olympian Jackie Wiles recently adventured to the summit of Mt. Hood—something she's been wanting to do for a long time.

Each and every one of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s more than 170 athletes has a unique story, and that story has only gotten more unique since their 2019-20 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After returning back home to Portland, Oregon, Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete and Olympian Jackie Wiles settled in for the longest stint she’s been home in a long time. Her quarantine binge of choice? Watching all 23 Marvel movies, from Captain Marvel to Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Alpine Communications Manager Megan Harrod spent some time catching up with Jackie (a.k.a. “Janky lil J”) , a speed specialist who had just returned to the FIS Ski World Cup tour after suffering a knee injury prior to the 2018 Olympics that had her sidelined for the entire 2018-19 season. Join us for this athlete touch base, as we talk about what she’s been up to since returning home from Europe early, what her quarantine life looks like, and the recent adventure she embarked on prior to returning to snow for the first camp of the 2020-21 season at Copper Mountain, Colo.—an Official Training Site for U.S. Ski & Snowboard. 

Megan Harrod: First of all, what have you been up to in quarantine? Have you picked up any new skills or refined any existing skills?
Jackie Wiles: Quarantine has been quite the new experience, but I am honestly loving this time at home to slow down a bit. I have really enjoyed lots of time to cook, spring clean, bake lots of banana bread, and also watched all 23 Marvel movies (total of 40 hrs. 48min) in order with my roommate. Besides that, I’ve been in full training mode, and I feel lucky that I have over the years slowly built up a home gym that is now coming in handy.

MH: How long have you wanted to summit Mt. Hood? Can you share a bit about the planning process?
JW: I’d say the last five years or so I have thought about climbing Mt. Hood. Growing up skiing in Oregon, I never considered myself a mountaineer and thought only experts summited the mountain. If you know what you are doing the risk isn’t very high, but there are still situations that people struggle with and need to be rescued every year, and fatalities do occur. Since I have picked up ski touring more in the last couple of years, I realized one day I wanted to summit. The ski racing community is a small tight-knit family here, and I reached out to my friend Aaron Zarosinski, asking if I could join one of his treks. We had a total of nine in our group, and leading the way were the John and Lisa Rust. They are big-time climbers and Lisa has even climbed Mt. Everest, so you could say I felt safe in good company!

MH: What was your route? Did you take the Magic Mile and Palmer lift and then hike from there, or did you start from the bottom?
JW: We started at the base of Timberline Lodge and ski toured most the way up until we had to take skis off the last bit. We then used ice axes, harnesses, ropes, and crampons. We took multiple breaks for water and snacks so it ended up being around six hrs. Starting around 5:30 am, we took the South Side Palmer Glacier Route, at the top we used the left chute through The Pearly Gates, reaching the top around 11:30 am. Sadly the clouds came in at the top so visibility was bad. I didn’t mind too much though, because the experience was still so rad. Now it gives me an incentive to do it again and look out from the highest point in Oregon! 

MH: It’s been such a weird time, and you had more time at home than you’ve probably ever had (barring injury/recovery times)…what are you most excited about? Are you anxious to return to snow?
JW: I haven’t been home this long for quite some time so I’m appreciating the moment for what it’s worth. I wouldn’t say I am too anxious just because I skied a bit this spring at home before resorts shut down and still been out ski touring so I’ve felt connected to the snow. However, it will definitely be nice to get on snow training again soon!