Angela Hawse is a jack of all trades. She has been guiding for over 25 years and is one of the most experienced female guides in the world. The current “AMGA Guide of the Year,” Hawse has been guiding in the Tetons in Wyoming this summer and took a bit of time out of her busy season to reflect on her time spent there.
Dominating the landscape, 7000 feet above the valley floor, the royal Grand Teton claims the attention of everyone passing through. This compact range packs a punch. It’s the youngest range in the Rockies, yet has some of the oldest rocks in North America. Thrust up boldly from the valley floor without foothills, it is one of the most stunning geological landscapes in the U.S. It teems with wildlife, coniferous forests and alpine meadows chocked full of wildflowers. This Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is the one of the healthiest and intact remaining on our planet. Grizzly bears on down the line to pine martens, pikas and peregrines are all present. Well above tree line, small glaciers are shadowed by summits that make up the brunt of the range with some the most unique alpine rock anywhere: The Grand, Middle and South Tetons, Mt. Moran, Mt. Owen and Teewinot.
For 12 seasons I’ve had the privilege of guiding here with Exum Mountain Guides. I look forward to it every summer and it never gets old or seems routine. The diversity of climbing in the range, good friends in a solid guiding community combined with frequent encounters with creatures large and small make everyday unparalleled. My guests range from experienced folks I’ve climbed with for many seasons to walk-ins that see the Grand for the first time and feel that unexplainable need to climb it.
Nearly every week I have a guest that’s climbed with Exum in the past, who returns after years, often decades with family or friends. Most have vivid memories and colorful stories of past climbs with guides that made a lifelong impression.
Out of all the many reasons to work here, I bet any guide you ask, returns ultimately because of the Grand Teton. Climbing and guiding the Grand is always incredible and as good as it gets anywhere. Although I could climb its classic routes entirely in the dark from familiarity with them, every time I’m up there it commands my full attention and it’s game on. It’s an amazing experience to share with seasoned climbers and first timers alike. Modern day guiding for Exum is where old school meets new school and both co-exist and work well. 13 of us at Exum are AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guides and our guide roster is one of the most impressive in the country.
Most Exum Guides probably share my sentiment that being part of a tradition that goes back 83 years, with Paul Petzolt and Glen Exum, is an honor. Glen’s guides were our heroes. Many of us were lucky to have them as mentors in our most formative years working with Exum. It’s definitely inspiring to carry on that unique tradition and rich history of American Mountain Guiding that that is so well suited to the range. And although I’m getting psyched for winter, I’m already thinking about a new pair of approach shoes for next season. This year the Crux was The One.