SMI Salutes Jansport Founder Skip Yowell

Jansport founder Skip Yowell speaking at his retirement party.

44 years ago Skip Yowell helped found one of the iconic companies in the outdoor industry when Jansport was formed.  From its early days in Seattle it has grown into one of the largest and most successful outdoor companies ever.  Skip has been there the entire time through many changes.  During Skip’s career at Jansport he remained active in the outdoors climbing in the Cascades, most notably on Mt. Rainier.  With Skip’s help Jansport worked closely with the guides at Rainier Mountaineering Inc to help develop and test gear.  They also collaborated to do a yearly 5-day climb on Mt. Rainier specifically for people who work for Jansport dealers affectionately known as the “Jansport Seminar”.

In 1987 SMI founder Kurt Wedberg was a college student working at Adventure 16 Outdoor and Travel Outfitters who are a Jansport dealer.  Kurt got the opportunity to be a participant in a Jansport Seminar where he climbed with a number a famous mountaineers.  Skip was on that climb and that formed a friendship that continues to this day.  This trip was made possible by Skip, Adventure 16, and the folks at RMI.  Kurt would eventually become a senior guide at Rainier Mountaineering Inc working there during the summer months between 1991 – 2006.  Since that first climb on Mt. Rainier Kurt has amassed 120 climbs of this great peak.

Through the years Skip has always been a big supporter of Kurt’s guiding career from his time on Mt. Rainier to forming Sierra Mountaineering International.

In addition to staying at the helm of Jansport Skip was always a great advocate for the entire outdoor industry.  Among other things he served on the board of Big City Mountaineers.  This well respected organization has been a leader in helping inner city and under privileged youth get introduced to the outdoors.  SMI works closely with their Summit For Someone program that helps raise money for Big City Mountaineers.

After 44 years of representing Jansport and the outdoor industry so well Skip is retiring.  SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg are currently attending the bi-annual outdoor industry trade show.  This show is where all the outdoor manufacturers display their products for retail shops, guides, and the media.  Jansport threw a retirement party for Skip at the trade show.

Skip will remain an ambassador for Jansport while pursuing other interests.  We wish Skip the best as he enters a new chapter in his life.  Skip remains one of the biggest icons in the outdoor industry and will always be considered a good friend.  All the best to you Skip!!!

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