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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.

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