An Interview With Guide, Angela Hawse
Angela Hawse has spent the last 30 years sharing her love of the outdoors with people from all walks of life. She is just one of 9 licensed female IFMGA guides in North America and spends her time rambling across the globe or teaching and inspiring women for the Chicks With Picks organization.
One of Angela’s passions is taking women out of their comfort zone to a higher altitude; imparting upon them the wisdom of the mountains and the confidence to strive further and higher. Be it skiing, rock or ice climbing, or mountaineering, Angela’s commitment to a career in alpine guiding fuels her passion to safely explore and share the outdoors with Mountain Hub in tow.
Mountain Hub: You recently completed an expedition to ski Antarctica. Give us the scoop!
Angela Hawse: What an awesome trip. With all true adventures, there are a few unknowns. What made this trip remarkable was the near perfect weather. Sun and good visibility makes all the difference when glacier skiing. Conditions ranged from powder to perfect corn. Admiring all the penguins, seals, whales, and birdlife was an incredible group bonding experience. This year I had the opportunity to serve as the Lead Guide on our expedition with 20 other talented guides on board our ship.
MH: Your observations posted to Mountain Hub while on Antarctica were awesome! Tell us about your turns, the penguins, and your experience there.
AH: There is nothing like it, anywhere. Ice Axe Expeditions, run by Doug Stoup, an experienced polar explorer, offers one of the only Antarctic Peninsular trips in the comfort of a cruise ship. Everything about the experience is first class. We would disembark the boat each morning after scouting appropriate landings and ski as much as possible. I spied penguins cruising around or seals basking in the sun near almost all of our landing zones.
As you can imagine, with a landscape that is entirely glaciated, much of the shoreline is steep and inaccessible, so we used small Zodiac boats. Once ashore, we roped up and started skinning up glaciers laced with some of the largest crevasses anywhere on earth.
This year the conditions were stellar and we achieved a lot of summits and several first descents. Most days we returned to the boat for a 3-course lunch while the boat sailed to a new objective for more skiing or afternoon wildlife cruises in the Zodiacs.
Crossing the Drake Passage was not my favorite part of the trip but it’s well worth it. If a landlubber like me can deal with it, anyone can.
How did Mountain Hub enhance your Antarctic explorations?
AH: I was able to take geocached photos, record observations in the field on Mountain Hub, and create trip reports with detailed information that will be useful for future expeditions. Going back through all the details I was able to make a comprehensive report for other guides that included day-by-day latitude and longitudes for each landing, hazard waypoints, acceptable routes, wildlife rookeries of interest, as well as routes to summits and great ski lines. The maps that Mountain Hub provides to its users are the best available anywhere. The global maps provide access to terrain anywhere, from Switzerland to Japan or New Zealand to Antarctica, I can better plan expeditions with these powerful terrain visualization tools.
MH: How does Mountain Hub help you discover, experience, and share your love for the outdoors in work and play?
AH: Mountain Hub provides me with real-time nearest neighbor observations in the winter, which increases my safety margin and ability to make informed decisions. Direct observations are the best determination of snow stability. As a guide and avalanche forecaster, getting details from other users in the field on the Hub adds useful information which improves decision making. The original Avanet platform certainly paved the path for all this with the ability to share with other organizations, professionals, and recreational users. I’ve used it extensively since it’s inception. I’m excited to be able to use Mountain Hub year-round now. As an alpinist, getting details on route conditions, hazards, wildlife, and weather is a huge asset.
MH: As a professional guide, how do you make the most of Mountain Hub?
AH: Sharing information is the right thing to do. We know this increases our safety margin by giving us a big picture perspective of current conditions. There are a number of different information sharing platforms available; some are timely, others not so much. The relevancy of information is crucial, especially regarding snow stability and potential hazard. With the Hub, I have a number of features that enable me to share very targeted information if I don’t have time in the field to write a narrative. The ability to submit SWAG data (Snow, Weather, and Avalanches Guidelines), record snowpack tests, and later draft snow pit profiles are features that are invaluable to professionals. The data is quick and easy to share, more so than other platforms out there. Having the option to record observations and choose how and when I want to share makes Mountain Hub versatile.
MH: What is your favorite Mountain Hub feature?
AH: Certainly the map caching, quality of the maps, and accurate GPS navigation with my phone are excellent. I rarely utilize a traditional GPS device since Mountain Hub on my phone does so much more with the same accuracy and better map quality. What formerly required hours with paper maps, a compass, string, and a notebook is now at my fingertips with Mountain Hub’s technology. To be clear, this has not completely replaced a map and compass, which are usually in my pack, but it has made life easier when planning objectives, tenfold. With the current Mountain Hub app, the map caching feature is really a phenomenal tool to navigate in a whiteout or avoid avalanche terrain. Because everything I need is stored in Mountain Hub, I avoid toggling back and forth between apps.
MH: Do you see Mountain Hub helping you on your mission to inspire women to try new things in the outdoors?
AH: Definitely. What’s super cool is that Mountain Hub is accessible to everyone, not just guides. Although it’s certainly a valuable asset for guides and outdoor educators, the Hub will give females more information to plan trips with a greater safety margin and a feeling of independence. In my experience women are very detail-oriented and I think this awesome platform is really going to help inspire women to share. It’s fun to use and it’s useful to others. I think overall, women love to contribute and I think this is going to be a growing user base for the Hub in the coming years.