#sheskis is a movement about community and mentorship. Can you tell us about female mentors and teachers that have helped you on your path in skiing?
It might sound cliché, but my mother was a huge mentor to me. She is an inspiration. My mom showed me that if you want to do things, then you need to do them, no matter what people around you think. The people who love you will be there for you even if they don’t agree with what you have set your heart on. She also taught me that it is possible to have a family and live your dreams and push your limits and without knowing it, she led by example. She won ski mountaineering competitions back in the 80’s when women were just starting to compete in these events, when women were still in the shadow of men in the mountains, but also in many other areas of life. So as a child, I learned that women could do and be whatever they wanted. It is only when I started my own career in the mountains that I understood what she must have faced back then. Hats off, mom!
Can you describe your process of learning about and becoming a ski mountaineer and guide?
To be a UIAGM/IFMGA/IVBV guide, you have to go through a ski certification process. It’s similar in every country, though Canada and the US have a huge emphasis on avalanche courses as well. I think this is a key component to ski guiding, as you are mostly out there on your own, making your decisions based on the terrain, the weather (wind, visibility, radiation, precipitation, etc.), the people you are with, and of course the snow stability, and your decision can have life or death consequences. The whole process was fascinating and eye opening for me, as once you have learned all these different aspects about decision making in the mountains, you will never feel the wind in the same way, see the snow in the same way, understand group dynamics in the same way, or see the terrain in the same way. This training creates a sort of matrix in your head, where all these elements are combined to compute a decision that could change your life and that of people around you. When I first went into the training, I mostly relied on my gut feeling and instinct to make decisions (still important by the way), but having the tools to make a thought-out decision is key in guiding. The process of learning about ski guiding evolves constantly: each time you go out, you learn something new through mistakes (or good decisions) you or people around you make. I would say it’s literally a school for life!