Leader Spotlight: Jill Uthoff

Leader Spotlight is a monthly blog to showcase our incredible volunteer leadership at The Mountaineers. Meet this month's featured leader: Jill Uthoff. She's a Tacoma-based volunteer who loves to climb and who's a leader on a number of climbing committees!
Sara Ramsay Sara Ramsay
Education Manager
April 29, 2018
Leader Spotlight: Jill Uthoff

For our Leader Spotlight this month we talked to Jill Uthoff, a volunteer leader with the Tacoma Branch whose favorite piece of gear is a trucker hat ... the more ridiculous, the better!

Name: Jill Uthoff
Branch: Tacoma
Where do you live? Tacoma, WA
How long have you been a leader? Two years, going on three. I have been a member since 2013.
What activities do you lead? I mostly lead Basic and Intermediate Climbs, but I am also the Tacoma Basic Climbing Chair, the Tacoma Intermediate Climbing Co-Chair, and I am on the PCE Curriculum Committee.

Leadership Questions

What inspired you to become a Leader for The Mountaineers?

So many things ... but the big push for me to become a climb leader was to show myself that I was capable and that I could do it. This may come as a surprise to anyone that knows me, but I can be VERY insecure and tend to doubt myself. Becoming a leader not only helped to boost my confidence, but it helped me to grow as a person.

What is the favorite trip that you've led for The Mountaineers?

Oh man, so many great trips, its hard to choose. I think my favorite trip that I have led so far was when we did Forbidden Peak in a day (23.5 hours to be exact). Besides the BEAUTIFUL scenery and great friends, it pushed me physically (we needed to be fast while carrying a pack loaded with glacier and rock gear), mentally (there is huge exposure on the ridge, tons of climbing parties, and steep snow slopes in the gullies), and emotionally (trying to remain patient on a heavily congested route). In addition, we ended up helping another party get off the route, which resulted in us coming out very late and exhausted in the dark.

How has your leadership style evolved as you've gained experience as a Leader?

Wow, I have had sooooo much personal growth through the process of becoming a leader. The evolution I appreciate most as I continue to lead climbs and the climbing courses, is that I am constantly exposed to a vast array of people, personalities, learning styles, and climbing abilities. This has opened my eyes and helped me to be more open and empathetic to the experiences, challenges, and triumphs of others.

Are there any learning experiences you can share with us, such as take-aways from a close call or a near miss?

My primary learning experience has been trying to make sure students do an adequate job of staying hydrated and well fed. I've learned to stress that the team needs to take care of each other because I can't possibly watch everyone. If you see your partner(s) starting to slow down or become sloppy, stop and check on them. Carry a pocket cookie, and make sure they have been eating and drinking!

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in The Mountaineers community?

Go for it! Seek out the opportunity, don't wait for it to come to you. Get out of your comfort zone, you cannot grow if you're not uncomfortable. This doesn't mean don't ask for help. It means try when you are unsure.


My favorite piece of "gear" is my trucker hat. The more ridiculous the better.

is there Someone that you'd like to see in the spotlight?

Send an email to Sara Ramsay to make a recommendation for one of our upcoming Leader Spotlights!