MOUNTAIN LIFE - Coast Mountains | Fall Winter 2018
50 MLCM FALL/WINTER 2018 Holly’s path to mountain life started early. She spent her childhood days in Whistler skiing and chasing her parents, older sister and brother up Rainbow Mountain and other local hiking trails. However, her life in the mountains was put on hold at age 10 when her family said goodbye to the Coast Mountains and moved to Australia. She didn’t connect with her Whistler roots again until age 21. While finishing an internship in Santiago, Chile, Holly found herself in Las Lenas, Argentina where she was surrounded by a bunch of Whistler ski bums. Using her mom’s old Voile backcountry skis with circa 1990 Fritschi bindings and an ancient blue Ortovox F1 Focus transceiver, she took to the hills. That trip, and the crew she went with, helped Holly rediscover her love for Whistler— and she returned to her home town to pursue the life she left behind. Holly spent nearly 10 years freeriding at home and around the globe but it wasn’t until 2011, back home and heading on her first trip into the renowned Tantalus Range, that she finally invested in a pair of Dynafit pin bindings and began to apply her freeride skills to true ski mountaineering. Around the same time, Holly set a goal to be a professional guide in the ski industry. The road toward an ACMG examination is long, and she needed more experience and more backcountry partners. Female ski partners were few and far between, but in 2013 Holly was able to connect with other women getting after it. That spring she partnered with ACMG Ski Guide Emelie Stenberg to take on a high-altitude, 400-kilometre self-supported traverse over the Fedchenko Glacier in Tajikistan. Three of the five-person team were female—things were changing. By 2016, Holly’s diverse experience and solid resume got her accepted into the prestigious ACMG Ski Guide training program. Almost one quarter of those accepted were women—momentum was growing. James Blench, longtime IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guide, acknowledges the changing landscape in the ski guiding industry. “These days more women see guiding as an attractive career path than they did in the past,” he says. “It’s easier socially, because the profession is no longer totally male-dominated.” As her experience and education expanded, Holly found herself increasingly being asked to instruct women’s-only courses in the backcountry and guide trips with female clients who had requested at least one female guide to be on First tracks are good tracks. RE WIKSTROM “My goal is to break the mould of girlfriends who follow the male leader,” she says.