Rachael Efta: A life built around rock climbing, back country skiing and trail running

Rachael Efta seeks out adventure. Last year, with her husband Nick, she stepped out her back door and walked until she summited Fan Mountain.

“Madison County is a mecca for discovery,” Rachael said. “There are so many places you can end up and wonder if anyone has ever even been where you are.”

Rachael grew up in Central Washington, where the Cascade Range was her playground. Seven years ago she moved to Big Sky to take full advantage of a part of the Rocky Mountains that are still wild.

“My lifestyle is based around rock climbing, backcountry skiing and trail running,” Rachael said. “I recently read an article that called rock climbers ‘masters of the useless,’ and I guess that’s pretty accurate for my outdoor practices.”

Rachael committed to the Madison Valley three years ago, moving down the hill to Ennis from Big Sky. It is her belief that Madison County locals appreciate the great outdoors, through fishing, horseback riding, hiking, hunting and more.

“It’s a different culture of outdoor recreating here than any other place that I’ve lived,” she said. “I’ve really had an exciting time being a total newbie at all of the things that folks out here are experts at.”

Though some activities are new to Rachael, skiing is not.

“My mom skied with me when she was pregnant, and my dad hauled me around in a backpack until I could slide around on my own,” she said. “Ski bumming was passed down to me and it’s really been the catalyst to other outdoor recreation.”

During the winter, Rachael’s passion for skiing is also her job – she is a ski patroller at Big Sky. The relationships she made through skiing have contributed to her comfort in the mountains.

Climbing, on the other hand, is a new endeavor, in the last five years, that is.

“I am not that great at it and the learning curve has not been gentle to me,” she said. “But it’s a way for my husband and (me) to connect to the outdoors together – perhaps that’s my favorite part.”

Fortunately, living in Madison County has brought a wealth of adventure-minded individuals into Rachael’s life.

“I am grateful to have ample opportunity and partnership to be able to wander around on skis and ropes or on foot,” she said. “The cherry on top is that nothing ever feels like competition in this town.”

At the end of the day, Rachael’s why is simple.

“Life is too short to say no to a day on the river or walking through the woods,” she said.

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