Thursday, February 23, 2012

Growing up Skinner

I've been wanting to write this post for some time now, but it was a nice push for me to write it after I read my friend Max's post.
I grew up with tents and skis and sleeping bags occupying our guest room. People came and left our house, and we called  them not by their real names but by their nicknames, like Vedauwoo John and Wild Bill. My family and these friends shaped my world into a transient, adventure-seeking, whirlwind of stories of far-off places. For a long time, I thought this is how everyone had grown up--camping in tepees in backcountry Wyoming, or waiting for a friend or family member to come home from a long climbing trip abroad.

I never really understood how different my family was until my Uncle, Todd Skinner, passed away in October of 2006. Years and years, still, after his accident, I meet people who knew and looked up to him. The world has shrunk a little for me since then. There was so much panic around me to carry on my Uncle's legacy, somehow, I felt like I needed to pick up a part of that.

And now I sit here with my deep cup of coffee, almost 5 and a half years later, assured that climbing is not my future. It will always be a rooted part of who I am, but not completely. It's taken me up to this point in my life to settle with the fact that I won't be the climber and storyteller my Uncle had been, or the mountaineer that my father once was, or the skiers that my grandparents were. And I was never supposed to be, because that was what they were passionate about and filled them up- that was theirs. I have come a long way to realize that visual storytelling is what I'm passionate about.

Some people argue that because who my family was to the industry, it has been easier for me to make my way. But I could disagree. It is, indeed, easier for me to meet people because of who I am related to.  It is also a huge honor to be a part of a line of such wonderful and talented people, but there are also challenges that come with that title. A big part of that is the struggle between choosing adventures over relationships. You can read my thoughts on that here.

I feel lucky to have grown up in this arena of  athletes and adventurous souls. I truly believe that this is the lifestyle that I will live forever, and will encourage generations after me to do the same. I feel more comfortable living a non-conventional lifestyle than many will ever be. My relationships with friends and family will always be different than most, as I don't like to stay long in one location, and hope to make homes in many places. And I feel lucky to be surrounded with people who believe the same. My Uncle Todd's children have grown up to be the most incredible adventurers. They are more comfortable in the wilderness that any young person I've seen, and the knowledge that they exude is so unique to their ages.

Brad Werntz Photograph, Skinner Brothers Camp, Wyoming.

It's so nice to meet people who know and knew my family, and tell me stories, but I respect people who get to know me for my interests and passions before asking me if I follow my family's. Because, they are a large part of me, but they are not who I am. We always have a part of our family in us, whether they are more a part of who we are then we would sometimes like to admit. But, I wouldn't have traded this for the world. My lineage has allowed me to see incredible places both in person and in photographs, hear stories of great adventures, and has also shaped my attitudes toward death and respect of the mountains. I'm happy to be a Skinner, to be a member of this industry full of dedicated and talented friends, and I can assure you that if I ever have children, I would love for them to grow up in such a wild and unique way as I did.

The first time I watched a Cory Richard's film, he shared a quote that his father had told him, "Go gently." This struck a cord in me, and I think about it often. I want to live my life being wild but not reckless, honest but not brutal, sure-footed, but not over-confident. I'm learning.


  1. I'm sure I've said it to you before... I'm proud of you for choosing your own path. That, in fact, is the spirit of your roots. It was never to be a climber, but to live a life of adventure...adventure you could call your own. A and I were just talking about how far you've come in the last few years. Remarkable, really. So proud to have been able to watch.

  2. Those are some awesome pictures Becca!

    I would imagine your lineage also brings undo pressure by some who don't know you or your family, but have a preconceived notion of who or what you should be. It may not always seem like it, but its obvious that you have already achieved a high degree of success by being true to yourself and following your heart - a kind of success not many folks can lay claim to. Kris Hampton nailed it. All the best wherever your trail leads you.