Monday, June 24, 2019

Guide Like Liz Scholarship Winner: Ellie Price

Ellie Price started climbing about 4 years ago after her cousin persistently invited her to climb at Vertical World in Seattle.

“I was so intimidated. It’s funny to think back about it now. Taking the belay test was so scary to me,” Ellie laughed as she remembered how she was introduced to climbing.

“My cousin was (and is) into mountaineering. During the winter, she would go to the climbing gym all the time. She would invite me, but I wasn’t really interested. For Christmas, she gave me a day of climbing at Vertical World. So I had to go.

"I took the belay test, climbed and was hooked! I bought a membership that day and have been climbing since. Climbing has changed my life so much. It’s crazy to think about actually.”

North Early Winter Spire in Washington Pass. "I just really love to bring nut butter up in tubes and its a staple of mine while climbing." Ellie Price Collection

In the past four years that climbing has been in Ellie’s life, she has climbed throughout the southwest at Red Rock, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Cochise Stronghold, The Needles, Eastern Sierras, Zion, Indian Creek, Lovers Leap, and San Rafael Swell. She has also climbed in the Pacific Northwest at Smith Rock, Squamish and she has been alpine climbing in the North Cascades.
She’s definitely covered a lot of ground in the past four years and there’s no slowing her down...

NE Ridge of Black Peak. "This was my first real alpine climb and I LOVED the experience. My husband and I did climb over three days and had lots of sunny time lounging around the lake until we started up the route and the clouds rolled in giving us a super cool perspective up there." Ellie Price Collection
Ellie has a Bachelors of Science undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in
Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences and a Master’s of Science graduate degree from Oregon State University in Informal Science Education. She also just completed a ten-month long AmeriCorps service coordinating an environmental education program for underserved high school students.

With her environmental science background, her educational experience and her passion for climbing, Ellie has aspirations for a career as a guide.

“[After my Master’s], my ultimate desire was to bring students from underserved communities outside and introduce them to science. Now I want to take that one step further and enable people from communities not typically represented in the outdoors (women, people of color, people from the LGBTQ+ community) to get outside and climb mountains! I want everyone to experience the personal growth I have experienced in the backcountry.”

That personal growth has come from experiences like Ellie’s first time above 10,000 feet on Mount Adams.

“The altitude really got to me about a thousand feet below the summit, but I remember finding my grit and pushing through in a way I had not yet experienced in the outdoors. I felt that I had pushed myself in a new and different way and was proud of how I had handled it. I find that I continue to have those moments of self-growth over and over in the mountains and that is a big part of the reason why I continue to return to them.”

Mount Adams. "I am recovering after coming down from the summit and laying on top of the false summit. Some may have said I was being dramatic :)." Ellie Price Collection
And as Ellie continues to return to the mountains and continues to grow not only in her own mental and physical strength, she also continues to add to her skill set. She started backcountry skiing last fall and she loves it! 

With her Guide Like Liz Scholarship, Ellie plans to take the AIARE Avalanche Level 1 to gain the tools, knowledge, and decision-making skills needed to minimize her exposure to risk in avalanche terrain.
“Summitting mountains on skis has become my favorite way to climb them and I am so excited to continue to improve at both skinning and skiing. I feel that I am ready to take the avalanche training courses after spending some time learning from my friends and partner and getting to know the techniques and terrain a bit. I take safety in the outdoors very seriously and want to make decisions based off of my own experience and knowledge and not just on what I am told by others. I want to take control of my backcountry skiing experiences and be more involved in the planning and execution parts of ski trips. I know that this course will help empower me and keep me safe when skiing.”

Ellie’s excitement about learning safety in the outdoors as well as educating and getting underserved communities outside and climbing mountains is contagious and we are thrilled to be a part of this journey.

El Dorado. "Our camp below El Dorado on a 5-day ski mountaineering trip last spring." Ellie Price Collection
When I asked if she could give another woman or young aspiring female climber/mountaineer a piece of advice either that she was given or she wishes she was given, what would it be, she responded: 

“Don’t be afraid to cry! I cry on many, if not most, mountains that I climb and I think that is just ok. It does not mean I am giving up, it is just a way for me to process and move forward and no one should feel shame for that.”

And what about a motto or quote you live by?

“I have a very silly, but also serious, to me, motto: I’m Dutch and I’m tough. My nana, whom I am very close to, is Dutch and would always say this to my sister and me when we were having difficulties. I find that over and over in the outdoors I reach for this phrase and am often chanting it to myself when I am scared, overwhelmed, or just tired out.”

Ellie’s last remark in her Guide Like Liz Scholarship application was just too good not to share:

"I will use this scholarship to educate myself and encourage others to also pursue their dreams and passions in the outdoors. I want to be a change-maker in this sport and our society." 

Vantage Point. "This was my second time ever climbing outside and the trip I definitely caught the 'bug'. Incidentally, it was the day I met my now-husband and he is the one belying me." Ellie Price Collection
Congratulations, Ellie! Thank you for choosing the American Alpine Institute to continue your education in the mountains. We look forward to having you on one of your AIARE Avalanche Level 1 courses this coming winter.

Ellie currently lives in Bellingham, WA and actively volunteers with the Vamos Outdoors Project.

--Sara Umstead, AAI School Certifying Officer

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