Weekend Warm-Up: Follow Through

In a world where success is regularly measured by the number of a person’s Instagram following, value of their net worth, or reach of their online presence, it’s rare to see a collision between millennial fame and extreme ski mountaineering. With Caroline Gleich, these extremes intercept effortlessly.

Caroline Gleich rapping off Pinnacle Gully in Huntington Ravine, Mt Washington, NH.

Gleich isn’t your typical ski mountaineer. She exudes that millennial attitude; the one that’s full of confidence but so often mistaken for a sense of entitlement, or even worse, arrogance. She’s Utah’s “poster child of skiing”. She has more than 150,000 Instagram followers. Her brightly coloured snow clothes scream “look at me”, and it’s perhaps this appearance combined with perfect dentistry and enviable blonde locks that contribute to the torn opinion people have of her. Social media star or inspirational role model? One thing’s certain: Gleich isn’t widely accepted among her peers, yet it’s evident that the public can’t get enough of her, either.

Caroline Gleich back entry skiing

To blow the ski mountaineering community into disarray, Gleich has a catalogue of achievements. At just 16 years old –- a year after the death of her half brother in an avalanche –- Gleich picked up a copy of The Chuting Gallery, by Andrew McLean. She resolved to complete every one of the 90 difficult ski lines in the guidebook, which focuses on Utah’s Wasatch Mountains.

The pessimistic response to Gelich’s vision together with her fearless attitude which is consistent with the millennial generation, bred perfect conditions for success. After 10 years of perfecting her skills, Gleich set out to achieve her goal. She not only became the fourth person ever to ski all of the Chuting Gallery’s 90 lines, but the first woman to ever do so.

Caroline Gleich, all smiles in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. Photo: Adam Clark

Gelich’s career highlights don’t stop there. She’s skied the three highest peaks in Ecuador (Cayambe, Cotopax and Chimborzo), the highest volcano in North America (Orizaba) and three 18,000-foot peaks in Peru (Ishinca, Urus Este and Pisco). She’s appeared in films, been the subject of editorials, won competitions and is an activist for social and environmental justice. Some of the organizations she works with include Wildlands Alliance, Wilderness Society, and Tree Utah.

An adventurer with more than enough accolades to show that she’s a serious contender, begs the question, “Why is she so publicly disliked?”

She’s had more than 20 social media accounts over four years to overcome online harassment, and the opening sequence of this film captures a voiceover of her being called a “silver-spooned bitch” on an anonymous voice message.

Caroline Gleich, Utah

Over 22 minutes, you can reach your own opinion of Gleich. Is she simply someone whom the mountaineering world hasn’t encountered before? Someone who seamlessly married the worlds of outdoor athleticism with a millennial approach to an online presence? Perhaps the combination of all these talents is, in fact, what makes Gleich most stand out.