Endurance, Resilience, and Healing with Jim & John Morrison

Jim Morrison skis a coluoir on Denali

When Jim and John first pitched, “Skiing the High Sierra and Beyond,” it read like an epic tale of the peaks they've skied around the world. In our 18 year history, the Winter Speaker Series stage has seen hundreds of epic stories but in recent years, our athletes are going one click deeper. When Jim and John took the stage it became clear that there was so much more to these remote peaks and challenging adventures. Jim and John share the story of Endurance, Resilience, and Healing:

Stepping into the High Sierra


Jim & John learned the art of steep skiing growing up at Alpine Meadows. Pretty quickly, both Morrison brothers committed to the pursuit of skiing although they took different paths to get into the high mountains.


For Jim, time in Chamonix provided the education and inspiration to chase the mountains. John pursued racing. He entered skier cross, border cross, and tele cross events honing his craft across all three sports. It wasn't long before both brothers found the High Sierra and started to push the steep skiing revolution.


Following the likes of Glen Plake, Darren Johnson, and Jim & Bonnie Zellers, Jim & John Morrison learned to follow the weather and snow conditions in an attempt to ski bigger lines in better style. 


It was skiing with mentors and friends and experiencing some of the Eastern Sierras finest bush-whacking exits, when Jim and John got their first taste of endurance. John aptly describes these memories as “character building."

Healing in the Mountains


Then the brothers opened up their hearts and let us in. During one tragic month in 2011, both Jim and John lost family and friends. What followed was Jim and John's accidental discovery of healing in the high mountains. Jim vividly recalls the first time that he made the connection between suffering in the mountains and healing emotionally. It was this connection that proved to be a powerful motivator, pushing him to climb bigger and bigger mountains in the Himalayas and beyond.

Finding endurance

A major theme of Jim and John's talk is endurance and enduring. They told stories about building their endurance and rebounding from injury, mishap, and more loss, and made it clear that endurance is more than just training strong legs. There is a mental and emotional component too. By building their physical endurance they got better at enduring. Out of incredible circumstances, came two resilient men who thrived despite much adversity.

Jim's pursuit led him to Lohtse, the fourth highest mountain in the world, where he and Hilaree Nelson set out with skis on their backs and the goal to nab the first descent of the Lhotse Couloir. 


This expedition had all the suffering and all the adventure. It highlighted exactly why we do it all. Jim says it best → 

The Morrison's philosophy


Tahoe is a community that has suffered loss. Life in mountain communities is inherently challenging. When we feel challenged, let us be reminded of John's closing words:


“When met with adversity, I encourage you all to persevere. Look at the next ridge out, and set lofty goals. With a positive mindset, they are achievable. When you get knocked down along the way, lift your head back up, and dream. Life is not linear, we bob and weave our way through it. We are given hurdles that we can overcome. They are gifts. Correctly negotiated, these hurdles make us stronger. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Stay engaged. Stay connected. Enjoy life, one positive day at a time."


-John Morrison

There's more to this Winter Speaker Series than we could ever summarize here. Thank you Jim and John for sharing your story. Watch the full video on Youtube.

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