Monday, July 20, 2015

Guide Like Liz Scholarship Winners - 2015

Just under a year ago the American Alpine Institute community, the climbing world and the skiing world were floored by the tragic news of Liz Daily’s death in the southern ice fields of Patagonia. The young guide and professional splitboard athlete was killed in an avalanche on September 29, 2014.

Liz left behind a legacy of outstanding professionalism, joy, enthusiasm for the mountains, and a tender patient care of not only her friends, but of her trip participants, as well in the backountry that she loved.

Liz began working as a guide for the Institute in 2012. Already a talented splitboard athlete with many technical descents around the world, she brought her joy and enthusiasm to all she met in her work at AAI.

In honor of her life as an exemplary guide and all around incredible woman, the Institute has awarded four women with a scholarship targeted to help them pursue their gown guiding ambitions. Each of these women have demonstrated an enthusiasm akin to Liz’s and a dedication to professionalism that speaks volumes for the up and coming female guiding community.

Every conversation about Liz includes comments about a few of her outstanding characteristics. As the Institute staff sorted through various applications for the Guide Like Liz scholarship they sought these out among the applicants: never ending supply of stoke, strong leadership, a deep and abiding love and respect for the mountains, and equal doses of ambition and humility.

Here is a little about the women who fit the criteria and won Guide Like Liz scholarships.

Liz taking a selfie while guiding Mt. Shuksan

Lizzy VanPatten, a Bellingham local, got her start climbing in 2013 and was immediately smitten with the sport. Generous friends tutored her during her first year of climbing, but by the summer of 2014 she was ready to be self-sufficient and signed up for a 12 day course with the Institute.

During her time on the program she gained an appreciation for the skill required to climb in more remote places and immediately following the course, she invested in her first big climbing purchase, a trad rack. The rest of the summer took her to crags and alpine routes alike around the Northwest and by the next fall she was gearing up for a big climbing trip down to South America to test her mettle.

After a three month climbing trip filled with tremendous new experiences, Lizzy returned to the States amped up and ready to begin pursuing guiding as a career. She found that not only does she love to push herself physically with climbing, but that she also wanted to share the joy she finds in the mountains with others. Ultimately, Lizzy would like to work in wilderness therapy, but hopes to have a solid background in mountain guiding before tackling the nuances of other peoples mental struggles.

Lizzy was awarded a $1000 scholarship and plans to use it to continue her guide education at the Institute. None of us can wait to see her out crushing in the mountains.

Katelyn Spradley was raised in the flatlands of the south, but eventually found her way into the mountains as a young woman and continues to return to the mountains every in order to get her fill of granite and clean mountain air.

After tromping up and down non-technical peaks for a few summers, she decided to try her hand in something a little more vertical. It only took a few gym sessions for Katelyn to realize that she was meant for the more airy environment. After college she made a b-line for the mountains and eventually settled in Colorado and acquired a job at the Fort Lewis College Outdoor Pursuits program as their intern. This gave her already substantial guide resume some more weight.

Katelyn is currently pursing a masters degree in sports management that she hopes will enable her to start her own company geared towards getting women into the outdoors – a place she believes women can find their strength, realize their abilities, and celebrate their femininity. Katelyn has found her inspiration in female guides like Liz Daily, Lindsay Dyer, and Melissa Arnot and hopes that through her own career she can inspire other women as these women have inspired her.

Katelyn has been awareded $750 to pursue her Single Pitch Instructor certification through the AMGA and is taking her first steps toward becoming a certified mountain guide.

Haley Johnston moved across the country five years ago after deciding that she would rather spend her days in the mosquito ridden and rugged landscape of the Alaska Range than strapped to a desk on the East Coast laboring through the realm of corporate finance. Life seems to have taken off for her since her arrival in the great northern state where she thrives as a volunteer snowboard instructor and is employed as a backcountry trekking, snowboarding, and river guide.

Haley has just started to test the waters of the world of vertical climbing, a place that continues to feed her love of the alpine environment. Although comfortable in glaciated terrain she wishes to round out her technical skills so she can more confidently guide in alpine environments. Like Liz, Haley loves splitboarding and has spent many days exploring the backcountry snow of the Alaskan mountains in her backyard.

Her desire to become a more technically competent leader stems from her passion for bringing women into the backcountry and giving them the opportunity to thrive in leadership roles. She understands the financial, logistical, and lifestyle challenges of guiding and the unique challenges that come with being a female guide. She believes that she could someday become a role model for other young women in the industry. She has been awarded $750 to help her follow her dreams.

A self-proclaimed, “addict of alpine,” Amy Ness’ personal climbing resume is not something to be taken lightly. With more than a handful of notable first ascents on grades 5.10 or harder both in the USA and abroad, Amy stands out as a strong female climber charging into terrain more commonly dominated by men.

Amy's passion began on the plastic climbing holds at a Portland State Fair as a young girl and since then has taken her from her current home in small town California, nestled at the base of the Sierra, to the towering and forbidding peaks of Patagonia. However, the bulk of her climbing experience has been personal and recently she decided that she is ready to start expanding her vertical environment to include guiding.

Amy plans to pursue AMGA Alpine Guide certification and hopes that in ten years she could be running her own guiding company out of the Sierras in California. Part of her vision includes a camp geared towards the younger climber and she hopes to share her love of rocks with kids in a stress-free and secure environment. She plans to become a certified Single Pitch Instructor in the coming years, and to assist her with this has been awarded $750.

All of the women who applied for the Guide Like Liz scholarship are making much needed strides in an industry largely dominated by men. The four women selected represent the strength and dedication of all female athletes and guides. The Institute is proud to sponsor a budding female guiding community and to do so in the name of Liz. Her life and legacy will continue to bless mountain communities around the world through the women who follow in her footsteps.

Congratulations to Amy, Katelyn, Haley, and Lizzy for being the first to receive the Guide Like Liz scholarship. We hope to see you all out in the mountains over the next many years.

Liz Daily in Charmonix France

The Guide Like Liz is sponsored by the American Alpine Institute and the Alta Group. If you would like to donate to this scholarship fund, please see the donation info below:

Make checks payable to "Liz Daley Scholarship Fund" 

Bank routing number = 325170835
Account number = 100413715

Bank name and address =
Heritage Bank
1318 12th Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 527-4960

--Jess Lewis, Instructor and Guide

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