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Meet outdoor guide and adventurer Angela Hawse

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Angela Hawse is an Eddie Bauer Guide, outdoor athlete, and adventurer with over 25 years of experience in the mountains. We caught up with her to talk guiding, spending time in the mountains, and being a role model for young women interested in outdoor adventure.

What was the biggest motivating factor that led you to getting the American Mountain Guide Certification? What were you looking forward to doing the most once you had the certification?

The biggest motivating factor that led me to getting my American Mountain Guide / IFMGA Certification was the opportunity to learn best practices in guiding from the most well-trained guides in the country. Following through to completion with three rigorous final exams provided confirmation that I was operating at the highest standards instead of just pure confidence that I was doing my job well. As a woman in a male-dominated profession, it was a significant motivating factor to have my skills vetted by the AMGA at an international standard.

What I looked forward to the most once I had the certification was climbing and skiing for fun again rather than always training for courses and exams! What was unexpected was the full body and mental relief when I finished that was itself a phenomenal experience. I certainly looked forward to many opportunities, not yet realized that would come my way, especially as one of very few full certified female Mountain Guides. I could never have imagined what followed in terms of a life rich with adventure and relationships pursuing my professional career as a Mountain Guide (with capital letters☺).

When you are guiding a trip or leading a group in the mountains, what do you think is the most important non-skill piece of information that you try to pass on to other women in the outdoors?

This is a great question and one that I think leads to life-long enjoyment in the mountains. I try to pass on that it’s important to embrace being uncomfortable and understand that most big goals in life entail a degree of suffering and sacrifice to achieve. With that ability - to push through hardship – one comes to find rewards that are often life-changing and elevating. If I may add one more thing that for me is a critical element of the outdoors is how it can illuminate how simply we can live with so few material needs and things - and what a beautiful thing that is.

What is the most rewarding moment to come out of working with Chicks Climbing and Skiing (or Chicks with Picks) thus far?

For me, my involvement guiding women through Chicks with Picks and its evolution to Chicks Climbing and Skiing was the community and connections we built based on shared experiences of trying hard, supporting one another and celebrating our successes no matter how great or small.

In 2003, I led a group of Chicks alumni and guides on an unsupported ascent of 22,494’ Ama Dablam in the Everest Region. This was a personal highlight of my many seasons guiding Chicks and one that culminated in a summit, and raising 23K for the dZi Foundation to start a safe house for young girls. It’s more common than not seeing Chicks alumni out climbing together whenever I am in the Ouray Ice Park or popular cragging venues around the country. What could make a guide more proud seeing her Chicks fledge onward to climbing competently on their own!?!

What is your #1 tip for other women from historically underserved communities who are looking for a leadership foothold in the outdoor industry?

    Learn from the stories of others who have been pioneers in the outdoor industry. Mentorship is always ideal but not always possible. If you can’t find it, don’t wait. There is so much information available on others who have gone before you and how they’ve done it. Identify a few role models who have careers or qualities you aspire to. Never measure yourself or compare yourself to them or others, just be who you are, but take some of the admirable traits you love about your role models and incorporate one or two of them into your style. Never doubt how much you have to share and contribute. 

    Be as present as you can in every moment and interaction to hold space for what is possible. Like climbing a mountain, it takes putting one foot in front of the other, knowing it’s going to be hard, getting up when you fall down and making good decisions to stay safe. The world and the outdoor industry need more women from historically underrepresented communities in leadership roles! Recognize that any self-doubts in your ability are your ego trying to keep you safe. That’s its job. You don’t always have to listen to it and if you follow your heart - it will lead you where you should go.

    What is your best natural leadership quality, and what is the one that you find yourself working on the most?

    My best natural leadership quality is passion and confidence that I have something worthwhile to contribute. I have a very team-oriented style of leadership which comes naturally to me and I know the best decisions are made with diverse perspectives, opinions and experiences at the table, on the mountain or in the classroom.

    I find myself working on my relentless drive to get projects to the finish line. I often have to check myself to slow down to the reality of limited resources in accomplishing ambitious projects. Thankfully I am typically able to maintain my enthusiasm through speed bumps along the way to keep the course!

    You can follow Angela on her Instagram!

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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