Changing life, one ski resort at a time 

Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery a book about an unrestrained year of travel

PHOTO SUBMITTED - Around the world Steph Jagger decided to take a year off and ski as many resorts as possible — she ended up travelling to 52 resorts in five continents.
  • photo submitted
  • Around the world Steph Jagger decided to take a year off and ski as many resorts as possible — she ended up travelling to 52 resorts in five continents.

Steph Jagger says she was sitting on either the Symphony or Harmony chairlift in Whistler in 2009 when she decided to change everything.

"Life was good, but I was asking questions about it being something more or different and I didn't know how to get that," she recalls.

"It was the quintessential perfect Whistler day, midweek with no crowd. And I thought, 'If I could have a repeat of this day over and over again, why would I not?'"

Whistler was one of the few places Jagger had skied, and the fact that it was considered one of the best places on Earth to ski had her wondering.

The former Vancouver resident says her parents had a home in Whistler since 1989.

"It was like a backyard for me for decades," Jagger says.

"I blurted out that I wanted to ski around the world for a year, and as soon as I did, my friend on the chairlift went silent, then immediately started laughing.

"I had a mortgage. I was not that good of a skier. She said 'come on!'"

Then a little blue sign at the end of the ride asked her a question of such profound importance that she put her life on hold for a year to answer it.

That sign read: "Raise Restraining Device."

And she wondered what was holding her back, she loved what she was doing and she didn't want it to end.

The quest these thoughts took her on meant skiing four million vertical feet in nine countries on five continents at 52 resorts. It also cost her around $70,000.

How did she logistically pull it off?

"I bought an around-the-world plane ticket. I started in the Southern Hemisphere and circumnavigated. There were a handful of places that were a must for me: South America, Japan, Chamonix and Jackson Hole. It was like, 'What is between Patagonia and Japan? Hello, New Zealand!'" she says.

"It also depended on where I wanted to get a bit of a local flavour... and where snow conditions are really good. In Salt Lake City, for example, you can get to eight resorts in 40 minutes."

The result, Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery, is Jagger's record of that year away, and has just been published.

"I had no clue that I would write a book about the trip," she says.

"I had incredible moments of physical and mental challenges; the aim ended up trying to become my best self."

Jagger's life changed in many ways, perhaps the most important being that she met American Chris Rutgers and married him in 2012. The couple now lives in San Diego.

Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery is published by Harper Collins and costs $26.99.


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