Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Guide Like Liz Scholarship Winner: Brooke Warren

Brooke Warren has recreated in the outdoors since she was a little girl. Growing up in Crested Butte, Colorado it’s easy to understand why. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Brooke was able to ski right outside her door. Her parents taught her to climb in places like Taylor Canyon outside of Gunnison. They also took her to other areas such as Indian Creek and El Potrero Chico.

“I am super fortunate to have a family that has impacted my mindset and goals throughout my life,” Brooke said.

Climbing and skiing were a part of Brooke’s family routine growing up, but it was in college that she adopted these sports as her own passion. She was a trip leader for her college’s outdoor program, Western Washington University Outdoor Excursions and she started climbing as much as she could while attending WWU.

Brooke waits out a storm on Mt. Rainer. Brooke Warren collection
Her mountaineering and skiing resume is extensive. She has had the opportunity to climb in the ranges of the North Cascades, the Elk Mountains, the San Juans, and the Lillooet in British Columbia. She has also rock climbed at beautiful locations such as Wild Iris, Eldorado Canyon, and Squamish.

After graduating with her Bachelors of Arts in visual journalism in 2014, Brooke obtained a job as a photo editor for High Country News, a magazine focused on issues in the western United States. But within the past year, Brooke transitioned out of that job into exploring guiding and outdoor education as her career.

In May 2018, she started working as an instructor for Colorado Outward Bound School in Leadville where she teaches students backcountry skills, lessons on natural history, and human impact. She also guides technical terrain on Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier with Alpine Ascents International.

Brooke (front) climbs Castle Peak for spring skiing in 2018. Brooke Warren collection.
In October 2018, she had the opportunity to volunteer and be a lead guide for Afghan Ascend: Leadership Through Athletics in Kabul, Afghanistan. Through this non-profit, whose focus is to empower young Afghan women through mountaineering, Brooke guided and instructed a team of Afghan girls in the Panjshir Valley.

“Soon I hope to be regularly guiding on all kinds of mountainous terrain to give people experiences that will leave them in awe of the natural world as well as in awe of their own physical feats,” Brooke wrote in her 2019 Guide Like Liz Scholarship application. “I’m excited to bolster my guiding experience with my recreational skiing experience in order to expand my instructional skillset to include more mountaineering objectives.”

Brooke photographs a team member of the Afghan Ascend team in Afghanistan, where she volunteered leading a backcountry rock climbing and mountaineering training expedition in October 2018. Brooke Warren collection.
Brooke is taking AAI’s Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive (TRRC) course with her scholarship. The TRRC is a 15-day course designed for competent technical climbers and mountaineers. Most of the course is spent on "high-end" technical rescue scenarios and the main focus of the program is on light backcountry scenarios. Heavy front-country roadside and industrial rescues are addressed as well.

“I’m excited to learn and practice complex rope systems and mechanical advantages so I can use the tools without reference and improvise when a situation calls for it. I’m interested specifically in the high angle rescue systems that apply to AMGA courses. Plus, I’m hoping I’ll be an asset to SAR teams with these additional skills.”

Brooke climbs Orion in Smith Rock State Park, Oregon. Brooke Warren collection.
Brooke’s climbing and mountaineering background combined with her interest in guiding as a career makes the TRRC a perfect stepping stone in her journey. This course will help her gain a high level of skill in all forms of technical rope rescue.

I asked Brooke if she had a motto or a quote that she lives by:

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action,’ by Walter Anderson. I’ve so often found myself wondering how something would go, rather than just doing it. To me, taking action, reaching out, or fixing a problem is so much more effective than pondering the problem. Yes, thinking things through is also important, but that comes naturally to me, so I like to remind myself to just do it before I overthink things.”

And 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...

“You know more than you think; you do/you’re more capable than you believe. When I began this journey I had a lot of unconscious competence and I’ve been grateful for people who made me aware of the skills I was shy about or didn’t know were important. As a woman, society makes it easy for us to be aware of where we fall short, but it’s important to also know where you excel. So figuring out how to name your knowledge or skills (and practicing) helps build the confidence that tells you, you are capable.” 

Brooke (framed by the tent) makes water for clients on Mt. Rainer. Brooke Warren collection.
Congratulations, Brooke! We are thrilled you chose the American Alpine Institute to be a part of your continuing outdoor education and we look forward to having you attend our Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive course.

--Sara Umstead, School Certifying Official

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