Jane Jackson

Sep 13, 2011
Outside Magazine

   Photo: David Hanson

Jane Jackson

Jane Jackson, 19
Lives in: Jackson, Wyoming
Profession: Student
Favorite part of your work: I can pretty much do whatever I want—I'm not tied down.
Least favorite: The transition from moving out of my home and not knowing where I’m going. And having no money.
What do you like to do in your free time: Skiing. Being outside, reading, hanging out.
If you could travel anywhere: Latin America
The last meal you ate: Bagel and cream cheese, water
Are you religious: No, not really. Maybe spiritual.
Any regrets: I went to Spain last year, and I wished I had stayed longer.
Trick of the trade: A headlamp and some non-margarita-flavored Shot Bloks

Jane was the youngest person I met on the mountain. She was part of our patrol, accompanying her dad, Renny Jackson. Jane had not done much mountaineering, but it’s in her blood, and that counts for a lot. Renny is a recently retired climbing ranger from the Tetons. He’s somewhat of a legend in the climbing, Park Service, and search-and-rescue worlds. He’s an original hard man, though you’d never know it considering his modest, self-deprecating demeanor.

Jane remembers family-vacation epics, like the time they scrambled out of a southern Utah canyon at dark, got lost trying to find the car, and bivied—mom, dad, daughter—huddled together by a sage-wood fire. Or the time they were rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and floated into a rapidly escalating forest fire that nearly had them walled in with flames and smoke. Jane and her friend from that trip used the story for their college-application essays. It’s an impressive crowd-pleaser.

Most of Jane’s gear is handed down from her mom, Catherine: purple Koflach plastic boots; big, round Vuarnet glacier glasses with the soft leather side shields; and an old wooden ice ax that looks like it was pulled from a mountain-lodge mantel. The gear had been up Denali decades earlier, before Jane was born, when Renny and Catherine ascended the big hill.

So Jane has that innate sense of grit, perhaps the most crucial element for the sport of mountaineering or for anything else that’s plodding and uncomfortable. She, like the others in the patrol, was just chill, curious, and willing to roll with it all.

On the second day they were at 17 Camp, Jane, Renny, and Dan made it halfway up Pig Hill, the last big push and about 500 feet below the summit. They didn’t get to the top, but Jane was OK with that. She’s not even 20. Her dad, at the other end of the rope, is 59. With those genes, she’s got at least four decades to get back up there.