Scarpa North America Blog

Angela Hawse: 21st Century Renaissance Woman

Feb. 7th 2012

San Juan Mountains. Photo: Jeff Cricco

SCARPA-sponsored athlete Angela Hawse is the complete package. She’s a fully accredited mountain guide who’s at home on skis, rock and ice. In addition to having her advanced mountaineering credentials, she’s also an academic, a rock ’n roll fan, and a fund raiser. The Ridgeway, CO-based Hawse is in her prime, and we were lucky to have an audience with the climbing original.

You’ve been guiding for over two decades, and are the 6th American woman to achieve full AMGA certification. How does it feel to be at the vanguard of female guiding?
It feels great to be doing what I love to do. It made me happy 25 years ago, and I still find incredible satisfaction with my work as a guide. At the vanguard of female climbing… well, that’s quite a statement! I’ve been guiding longer than most women, simply because I’ve stuck with it. There aren’t many women guides out there in the first place, not nearly enough. Often it seems after a decade or so, most women move on to something more sustainable for themselves. I am psyched to have found a career that suits me, makes me happy, that enables me to meet interesting people, and travel to remarkable places.

Achieving full IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide certification was a long-standing goal, and one I’m super proud to have accomplished. It was not easy. Being the recipient of this year’s AMGA Guide of the Year award was a huge honor, and I am humbled to be the second woman to receive that award. Kathy Cosley, my long-time mentor and friend was the first. I suppose I should raise my rates, if I am at the vanguard!

Exum Ridge of Grand Teton, Photo: Ace Kvale

You are the first woman instructor and examiner for the AMGA guide-training program, but you’ve also gotten your MA in International Mountain Conservation. Are the two a meeting of experience and academia?
My MA in International Mountain Conservation carries over to all my work in the mountains. I consider myself, and my role as a guide, to be a steward and ambassador of wild lands wherever I go, with humility. I work hard to impart a sense of respect, awe and responsibility to my guests and students through little lessons about the environment and LNT (leave no trace) practice everyday. It’s what every guide should be doing. Our mountains are precious. Teaching someone about geology, weather, snow physics or flora and fauna adds so much to their experience and goes a long way, well beyond their experience of just climbing or skiing.

On international expeditions, integrating cultural understanding and bridging the human experience in the mountains dissolves boundaries. I’m totally stoked to be working with aspiring guides. My outlook as a guide, and the opportunity to bring both a woman’s and a naturalist’s perspective to a predominately male profession, I believe, adds an invaluable perspective. Margaret Wheeler is the only other woman on the Team, and she is awesome. It’s really an honor to be on the AMGA Instructor Team working with the best of the best and training the next generation of guides.

How long have you been with SCARPA? What shoes and boots are you keen on these days? Why?
I’ve been with SCARPA since 2008, and am stoked to be sporting and promoting the best Italian footwear in the world. I’m keen on lots of shoes, but my top picks begin with the Phantom Guide. This boot rules, and I love it for ice climbing and cold weather alpine mountaineering. It’s warm, climbs like a machine and the integrated gaiter with the zipper keeps it incredibly light weight and trim. For lifestyle: the Women’s Mojito. Solid, super cute, and I can wear it anywhere and look good. I have had more compliments on this shoe than any in my quiver. My pick for a Mountain Boot: the Women’s Triolet Pro-GTX. This is my go-to mountain boot for guiding in the Tetons all summer for Exum Mountain Guides when there’s any snow to contend with. It’s got a full shank, edges on a dime, can hike the distance in comfort. For Alpine Ski Touring: the Gea is the bomb. My go-to ski boot for any condition, especially when light is right without sacrificing solid downhill performance. The Intuition liner is warm and super comfy, and the innovative buckle system gives me mega control for the downs and unbelievable mobility for skinning, boot packing or even (disclaimer) running shuttles to the top of the pass.

SW Ridge of Ama Dablam

There’s the little known fact you played guitar in a rock band. So, who is your rock and roll equivalent to Alex Lowe, if such a person could exist?
My secret is out! Well, I am a Southern Rock girl at heart and Jimmy Page certainly was my inspiration from the get go. He brought music to life and filled it with spirit and magic. But after seeing Ani DiFranco in concert, I’d have to say she is my rock and roll equivalent to Alex. Like Alex did, she plays from the heart with fervent passion, and has tested the limits of not only what she can do with her guitar, but with her lyrics as well. She jams so hard that she has 4-5 guitars on stage with her, and has to switch out after every song, so her professional tuner can re-tune and/or restring them. She is unbelievable to see live and has the fire in her eye like Alex did, and a message that is larger than life that she speaks with humility. She is incredibly influential, motivating and saying things few others dare to that are important for our times. I’m going to Aspen to see her on March 1st and can’t wait. She’ll be in the Front Range around then. Check her out… she is on fire!

Any mountaineering plans for the coming Spring?
Some secret plans evolving for a trip to Peru. I’ve never been to that part of South America and it’s calling me.

You’ve participated in women-specific climbing projects like the 2003 “Mamas Dablam” expedition, which raised $20,000 for the dZi foundation. Do you have any projects your currently working on?
I organized that expedition, and led it with Kathy Cosley and Anna Keeling, both IFMGA guides. It was an incredible trip. Marmot supported us with equipment, but we were unsupported on the mountain, climbing with out high altitude Sherpa. It was a huge undertaking. I don’t currently have another project like that in the works, but am doing a much smaller scale trip with some women this summer in the Bugaboos that I’m totally stoked about. I should put the pen to paper and start working on another project to support worthy projects like the dZi Foundation again soon.

Photos Credits: Jeff Cricco Photography –, Ace Kvale Photography –

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