A Traveling Unicorn
An Interview with Katrina DeVore
Emissary Katrina DeVore is a traveling unicorn. She was born and raised in the Elk Mountains of Aspen, CO and has been skiing since she could walk. With two worldly parents, she spent a lot of her childhood traveling and living in far off countries, including pre-school in Japan, many months in South Africa, and a year in Chamonix. All of this travel fueled her wanderlust and after competing in the Subaru Freeskiing Tour for five years after college, she hasn’t been in the same place for more than a couple months. Katrina is a modern gypsy and spends her time exploring the world skiing, climbing, surfing, biking, meeting new people, learning compassion, and spreading joy.
We finally caught up with Katrina (between trips to Bhutan and Mexico) to talk skiing, travel & life after 30. She was wearing a Corbeaux Mission Hoody – her favorite piece of clothing. “Its such a nice layer for skiing, climbing, yoga, running, hiking, or just hanging out. And it comes in super cute colors and patterns. It’s not only cute, comfortable and functional, but it’s also made in the USA from sustainable materials!” As you will see, Corbeaux’s mission aligns with Katrina’s life vision.
So, take a 5-minute break, lean back in your office chair, and travel the world with Katrina. She has some words of wisdom that may make you rethink working overtime…
You have lived a life of travel galore. How has it shaped you?
Travel has deeply affected my life! Growing up in Aspen, it is easy to be a little jaded. Surrounded by such affluence growing up, I would often wonder why we were so poor. I was fortunate enough to attend Aspen Country Day School on super scholarship. My mom drove a beat up Subaru that you had to hot wire the windows up and down and that could barely make it out of the Valley. I’d roll up to Country Day on the bus, while most of my other friends arrived in Range Rovers. We would go to Aspen Valley Ski Club with a smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwich in our pockets while all of our other friends were buying candy, pizza, and soda with the $20 their parents gave them. My mom worked at a kids ski shop so that she could get us ski equipment.
And then I traveled, and realized that we were still the .0000001 percent of the world! Now, rather than wondering why the majority of my friends are wealthier than we are, I am tremendously grateful for my life and count my blessings every day. I wonder how I happened to be so fortunate as to be born in Aspen, Colorado and live a life of such privilege. I no longer take it for granted and am a way more compassionate human being!!
Sense of place:
What places have impacted you most? With so much movement, what is it that signifies home for you?
Aspen has been a major impact on me, because it has been where I have spent the most time, especially in my informative years! Living in Chamonix, France when I was 11 was also tremendously impactful. It was in Chamonix that my brother and I really got into skiing big mountains and rock climbing. The mountains in Chamonix are have such a grandeur and are unforgiving! The rescue helicopter would fly over our chalet multiple times a day. I gained a tremendous respect for the mountains and forces of nature while living in Chamonix.
In the large scheme, the world is my home! We are all one and must care for all parts and people of the planet for it is all one interconnected breathing life force. But in order to truly call a place home, I must have some sort of sense of community and be surrounded by nature. Home is somewhere where I can express myself creatively and freely!
Having come from an elite liberal arts school, where big banks and consulting are examples of the go-tos, have you found it difficult in your heart to maintain your itinerant path?
I am trying to live a happy fulfilled life and be a steward of the environment and its inhabitants. I am rich in experiences, connections, gratitude, ideas, laughter, expression! Two of my favorite “mantras” or quotes, sung by The Grateful Dead are “Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile” and “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
Other deep thoughts by Katrina DeVore include, but are not limited to; how I can help others, make the world a better place, lessen my footprint, spread joy, love harder, cultivate compassion, live a healthy balanced life, ease stress, live in alignment with my highest and most authentic self, forgive, heal, grow, and thrive?!
Do you ever feel a sense that there are few frontiers left to truly explore? When everyone has a camera, everyone loves to travel, does “seeing the world” ever feel contrived for you? In order to truly know a place, what does it take?
This is an interesting topic to me and definitely worth questioning! Tourism is different than going to a place and immersing yourself in the culture and sharing experiences. As tourists, we go to far off places that are not our “home” and view ourselves as outsiders and just take. I am guilty of being a tourist, but have also been a traveler and have spent time in a place getting to know the people, learning from them, respecting the land and culture, and participating. The more I travel the more I don’t want to just be a tourist.
Tourism is highly affecting and changing the world and there are very few frontiers left to explore which is why traveling to Bhutan was so special! We went there to access the potential for helicopter skiing in the remote Himalayas and in the end, it wasn’t allowed. While we put a lot of time and energy into the project and were asked to come by the kingdom of Bhutan, it’s refreshing to know that there are still parts of this earth untouched by the greedy hands of man. While in Bhutan, we met with the head of tourism who told us that anything that happens in Bhutan has to be approved by the people and must not degrade the environment. All of their festivals and rituals aren’t altered to please tourists. They are all authentic. No one was ever trying to hustle us in Bhutan and all of the conversations that we had with people were genuine and out of pure curiosity for one another’s culture. It was quite the contrast traveling to Thailand and Bali after Bhutan, where it felt like you couldn’t talk to anyone without them trying to sell you something.
I try not to let my curiosity for the world dull. I am constantly trying to harness my inner child and see the wonder and excitement all around me! Perhaps that’s why I can’t sit still. There’s so much out there to discover and experience! To really know a place though, I believe that one must spend time and put themselves out there. Get familiar with the food, people, landscape, traditions, and beliefs!
I find joy in skiing because it pushes my boundaries and is a beautiful way to spend time in the mountains with friends! I love oceans, deserts, and jungles, but in my deepest heart I am a mountain girl! Mountains are so powerful and humbling and demand the utmost respect. They don’t care who you are, how pretty or rich you are, how successful you are. It’s never about conquering the mountains it is about being amongst and a part of a force far larger than us as individuals.
Its hard to mimic the feeling I get from skiing. The sound of snow falling, floating through powder, the rush of cold air on my face! For me, its one of the best feelings in the world. I feel incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to ski in my life!! Through skiing and a shared love for the mountains, I have connected with so many amazing people all around the world including Chile, Argentina, across Europe, Canada, Alaska, Japan, and all over the lower 48. Skiing has been an integral part of my life up to this moment. I try not to take skiing or myself too seriously!!
What is on the horizon for you as an athlete, and also as an individual?
I just bought a van that I am going to style out for the winter. And now that I am about to be 30 and am in my Saturn Return, I am feeling the pull to settle down a little bit and set myself up for the future. My brother and I would like to buy some land and start a Surf Gravity Jedi Ninja training headquarters. We want to grow food, hold retreats, have a healing center, throw small festivals, build a climbing wall, and have a space where we and our tribe can co-create and live purposeful lives in harmony with mother earth. My 20’s were somewhat selfish. In my 30’s I would like to do more for other people and the preservation of the environment.
As an athlete, I would like to inspire people to follow their dreams. I don’t care necessarily about being the best, I care more about having the most fun with my friends and pushing my own personal boundaries. My goal as an athlete is never to make any one feel like something is out of their reach or purposely try and make others jealous. I hope to demonstrate that anything is possible and to do whatever it is that makes your heart sing!! Everyone can be the master of their own dream!!
What else might you want to add to this topic?
We are only here for a short time and nothing is guaranteed. Make your life count!! Do what makes you happy. Live and feel fully! Never miss an opportunity to give love!! People are here today and gone tomorrow! Learn from your experiences but have no regrets. Be present! All we have is this moment and all there is is love!! Be kind.
Have goals but not expectations. Try not to be too attached to the outcome. Be like water! Be flexible, malleable, and go with the flow. You can choose your attitude in any given situation! Don’t sit around feeling badly about the cards that life deals you. Take those cards and allow them to make you a stronger more compassionate human being! Take responsibility for your life! Be impeccable with your word! Lift each other up! Stay positive! Be authentic! Don’t worry about impressing anyone. Show up for yourself! Love yourself! All of yourself. Practice patience. Love unconditionally. This is a crazy world we live in!! Find the humor in everything. Forgive yourself and others!! We are all part of the same life force! One love!
Thanks for reading!
Words by Katrina DeVore
Interviewed and Edited by Christian Johansen
Follow her travels on social media:
Instagram: @katrinadevore & @surfgravity
Other Sponsors: Faction Skis, Strafe, Panda Poles, Zeal, Pret, Astis Mittens, Aspen/Snowmass, Guayaki Matté