The North Face sponsors new women's AMGA course

Only 8 percent of AMGA guides are women. This new program will change that.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Erica Engle flakes climbing rope

Erica Engle flakes a climbing rope. She began guiding in 2006. She is a fully-licensed IFMGA guide in the ski, rock, and alpine disciplines.

When Erica Engle started working toward her American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) certification in 2006, there were only a few female role models in the guiding industry. More men than women taught her the ropes. But now, thanks to a grant by The North Face, the AMGA expects to see a lot more women in its programs.

Announced yesterday, the AMGA is launching the first Women's Rock Guide Course—the first of its kind for professional rock guides.

"Part of how you succeed is by having a strong network of colleagues and mentors to help open opportunities and direct you to connections and things you could be doing," Engle, the 11th woman to become an IFMGA guide, told SNEWS. "One of the goals here is to foster a cohort of women who have each other to network with. Once you build that bigger cohort of people moving through the upper levels, you tend to see more generations of cohorts behind that. That’s part of this hope."

The North Face grant—part of the Move Mountains Grant Program—will create partial scholarships for 12 women to take the AMGA's first level rock guide training course. The grant also builds in funding to support Implicit Bias Education at the AMGA’s annual meeting for guides from across the globe, to help create a more cohesive and supportive working environment for all guides. The grant will also empower the AMGA to drive those conversations at the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations.

In its research, the AMGA discovered that only 24 of 303 (8 percent) Certified Rock Guides are women, as of now. Female guides, including Engle, say that long-standing cultural stigmas, false perceptions, potential discomfort with being the only woman, and few female mentors and role models have kept women from becoming guides.

The course, which kicks off in September in Boulder, Colorado, includes the same curriculum as non-gendered rock courses. But it will be taught by an all-female instructor team, including Engle as well as Angela Hawse, Margaret Wheeler, and Karen Bockel. (The former were mentors/instructors to Engle and the latter through Engle's certification program.) It will also provide an environment that’s free of some of the traditional gender stereotypes surrounding leadership. 

Moving forward, the AMGA is focusing on diversifying even more and recruiting underrepresented identities and people of all backgrounds. Last fall, the AMGA teamed up with the American Alpine Club, Flash Foxy, and Brown Girls Climb for a pilot Single Pitch Instructor course to create a safe space for conversation and questions."Our end goal is to create an environment where we have integrated courses," Engle said. "In this stage, some level of affinity spaces is an important component."

The application deadline is March 17, 2019. Find more info about the program criteria, requirements, and how to apply here.

Related

The North Face Move Mountains campaign

6 ways the The North Face is celebrating women

For more than 50 years, The North Face has empowered people to push boundaries in the outdoors. Now, the brand is acknowledging that they need to do more to create more role models for young girls and develop the next generation of amazing women explorers. “We know better than ...read more

Angela Hawse climbing crack

Angela Hawse tapped as AMGA board president

Business owner, veteran guide, female powerhouse, and so much more have set Angela Hawse up for her new role as President of the Board of Directors of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). The industry’s excitement is evident as the multifaceted Hawse—who has more ...read more

Deanne Buck in Indian Creek with dog Sequoia 10 years ago

On-the-wall interview with Deanne Buck, climber and women's equality warrior

Even with a sneaker on one foot and a climbing shoe on the other, Deanne Buck ascended with grace up an overhung, 50-foot wall at Boulder’s Movement Climbing & Fitness on a recent Friday evening. In the empty gym, she and I made our way from route to route, and in evaluating each ...read more

Backcountry's women's clothes

Backcountry.com’s new collections serve women well

One of Diana Seung’s favorite pieces in the new Backcountry.com line is a pair of knickers, light enough to fit under a ski bib but designed to keep women warm all day in the mountains. It was such a hit, men wanted them too, she said. Seung, the executive vice president of ...read more

thumbnail_IMG_5482

What you missed: Day 3 at Outdoor Retailer

You made it to the finish line of Outdoor Retailer. We hope your whole show was successful and filled with stoke. Here are a few of the things you might've missed from Day 3: Catch up on Day 1 and Day 2. In the afternoon of Day 3, a group of Plastic Impact Alliance members met to ...read more

CamberOutdoors_photography_05

Camber Outdoors wants equity for all, not just women

Known for empowering women, Camber Outdoors is broadening its mission to welcome everyone to the leadership table and achieve equity for all—not just females. Today, the organization announced a shift in its mission from, “Equality for all women in the outdoors, from the ...read more

High Mountain Hut in Telluride, Colorado

This Colorado women's leadership summit is getting even bigger in 2020

Up until July 2018, the last time I'd been around 16 other women in the woods was as a teenager at Girl Scout camp. So when I was invited to the Project16x women's leadership summit in Telluride, Colorado, needless to say I felt a little self-conscious about being new to the ...read more

Phil Powers talking into a microphone with another man in the background

Phil Powers is leaving the American Alpine Club

When Phil Powers took over as CEO of the American Alpine Club (AAC) in 2005, his membership had lapsed, not out of any deliberate protest, but simply because he had forgotten about it. He was no doubt an active climber, although he didn't see the relevance or benefit of the club ...read more

Rad women hiking

10 companies led by rad women

Everyone knows that some of the outdoor industry’s top brands are led by strong females — Rose Marcario of Patagonia, Sue Rechner of Merrell, Donna Carpenter of Burton, Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, Amy Roberts of Outdoor Industry Association, Deanne Buck of Camber Outdoors, and ...read more