Words by Amy David
These Gnarly Nurses slay sick lines on the mountain between healing sick patients while on duty. This episode takes you behind the scenes of three ladies balancing skiing and nursing careers. These women are nurturing and gnarly.
Over the years of being a skier I’ve spent my fair share of time in ski resort clinics, hospitals and emergency rooms. Being busted up after a ski crash, the best nurses I’ve had are the ones who genuinely care, can make me laugh and throw in a high five for whatever stunt inspired the crash. The three gals featured in this episode are people I look up to in life. They ski nearly every day, are extremely intelligent and fully independent women chasing their ski dreams while helping others. Be sure to watch through the end of the video to hear an inspiring story about the ski community coming together during hard times.
Meet a few Gnarly Nurses of the Wasatch
Photo by Wray Sinclair
Lucy is the hard core girl who wears bedazzled goggles while flying through the air off giant cliffs or crushing up the skin track in the backcountry. She’s upbeat, fun and always out on the move on her mountain bike or skis and often accompanied by dog Rustler. After growing up in Vail, CO skiing everyday as a kid, Lucy sure developed a knack for sending bigger than most people on the mountain. Before transitioning to alpine several years ago, she used to compete in telemark freeride competitions. With a happy demeanor, she’s eager to help others and says, “It’s awesome going out with a group of girls because we encourage each other and push each other. We know that we have the same capabilities, so if you see one girl send it you know, oh I can do that!”
As a registered nurse, Lucy has worked travel positions taking on nursing jobs in the intensive care units across several mountain towns which has allowed her to ski full-time this season. The past two years she worked full-time at the Alta Clinic. On a powder day, she’ll come to the clinic at the base of the lifts dressed in her ski gear so when there are no patients, she can lap the resort until an injury is called in on her radio.
Photo by Chris Whittaker
If you see a flash of pink and a blonde ponytail wiz past you at Alta Ski Area, it’s likely Erika Klenk. She’s the girl lacing lines between cliffs under the Supreme lift. She’s also the girl at lunch crushing out homework and reading her nursing textbooks during lunch upstairs at the Goldminer's Daughter Lodge. Erika is a girl who knows what she wants and does what it takes to make it happen. Inspired by several of her friends' mothers who are nurses, she decided to attend Westminster College in Salt Lake City to pursue a career as a nurse. Lucy has been a friend and inspiration to her for balancing both work and skiing.
She grew up in a ski racing family in Truckee, California before heading to Sugar Bowl Freeride Academy. Erika has been competing in the big mountain Freeride World Qualifier series for several years. She sees skiing as the play, so if she works hard, skiing is the reward to find balance with the ‘work hard, play hard’ mantra.
“Balancing work and play is so important because it’s important to have stability, independence and motivation to get through the hard parts in life, but the outdoors are so important to turn to when you are stressed and working for the things you want in life. It’s just serenity in the mountains that makes you happy and makes you smile.”
Photo by Sam Watson
Photo by Matt Chirico
Hannah Barkey is the epitome of a soul shredder. She’ll work a night shift and still be at Alta for first chair the next morning wearing the brightest, funkiest spring skiing outfit.
She currently works at on the progressive care unit of St. Mark’s Hospital. Through her experiences as a nurse, Hannah has boiled down a solid strategy for maintaining personal happiness in life. “I try to not take things too seriously. I used to be really really serious before I started my career, but nursing has really put everything into perspective. At my job, things are literally a life and death matter where everything else in life is trivial… it really doesn’t matter, so let’s just have fun! I try to do what I enjoy and be conscious of how I affect people and have a good time (which is skiing, biking, being outside with friends and dancing..lots of awful dancing)!”
As a kid she was always interested in science, learning how things work, figuring out how to fix things, and fascinated by the human body, so it’s no surprise she pursued a medical career. Originally, Hannah wanted to go to medical school, but after shadowing several professionals, she realized it was the nurses who were at the bedside and engaging in the most patient contanct. If you know Hannah, you know how kind she is and it makes sense why she changed her path to pursue a nursing degree from Westminster College versus being a doctor. Hannah will tell you her main goal is to improve the quality of life of her patients and their families and that’s what matters the most.
Photo by Matt Chirico
Next up is women who are Fearless in Flight from helicopters to massive cliffs and jumps. Until then, join @SkiUtah and keep up with my personal travels on Instagram @AmyJaneDavid.
Watch Ep01 Adaptive Sports
Watch Ep02 Chicks Who Rip
Watch Ep03 Dawn Till Dark
Watch Ep04 Escape the Heat
Watch Ep05 Mountain Canine Companions
Watch Ep06 Steep Jobs
Watch Ep07 Local Pioneers
Watch Ep08 Boarder Babes
Watch Ep09 Spring Fling
Watch Ep10 Who are the Wild Women of the Wasatch?
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Aaron Lucas \ 3.4 years ago
Great Story. Thanks for making it.
My extended family has meet a few great nurses at Alta and Snowbird over the years. Thanks for all your work. So glad you get to do such amazing skiing.
Hailey \ 3.4 years ago
Thanks for the kind words, Aaron!