Emily Olsen

Salad-Hating Ultra Runner.

Where’s Emily? Oh, there she is! She’s the one with hair flying everywhere, glasses falling down her nose, cinnamon roll in hand/mouth, most likely chasing her dog, Cabot, down the street.

What are your three most prized accomplishments?

In no particular order: Moving from New York City to Rural Arkansas without knowing anyone or ever having been there before. Building a career that works towards leaving the world a better place than I found it. Learning to grow my own food while simultaneously running a school garden for pre-k thru 2nd-grade students- miraculously they actually like almost everything we grew and I didn’t starve.

What are your three favorite things to do?

Run ridiculously far with my friends. Be outdoors with my dog. Eat cinnamon rolls, nachos and maple syrup (on anything and everything).

Where are your three favorite places to be?

In the mountains. In Vermont. On the road/trail to somewhere new.

What keeps your passion alive?

Donuts and coffee. But for real, all of the amazing people around me who work their asses off to make their dreams and the dreams of their communities come true. Sharing ideas and collaborating with them keeps me growing as a person and reminds me that the world is full of wonderful people who will make it a better place than we found it.

What is your greatest passion?

Making the world a more equitable place both where I live and where I play.

What is one thing that people don't know about you, but should?

Despite my love of vegetables I truly dislike salads unless they are made of vegetables cooked in butter in a cast iron pan. Raw vegetables have no place in my diet.

What is your wildest adventure?

Four years ago I realized that while I loved living in New York City and all of my friends there, I didn’t love the person I was becoming or the life I was leading. I felt like I had settled for the life that I thought I should live rather than going after the life that I wanted to live. I decided that if I was going to leave the city of my dreams and the people that I loved to lead the life that I wanted to lead, I would have to take advantage of every second. Since then I have embarked on a career in food justice, something I passionately believe in, lived in a state I never thought I would visit, completed a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training, adopted a dog with more energy than I thought possible, learned to climb, run my first, second and third ultra-marathons and fallen back in love with skiing, backpacking, camping, hiking and the outdoors in general. I’ve been on more road trips and outdoor adventures than I can count, slept in the back of my car, under the stars, in the bottom of desert canyons and in mountaintop huts, taken fewer showers than my mom or boss would like and I have never been happier. It's been wild few years without nearly enough sleep but I have no plans to stop or find any balance in my life anytime soon.

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be?

Kayak, trek and run through all of the National Parks in Chile.

What is your personal definition of feminism?

For me, feminism is about being who you want to be and society letting go of our exceptions for who we think people should be and our judgment of others for not fitting into the boxes we create to put people in.

What do you find valuable in being a woman in the adventure/outdoor industry?

I am extremely fortunate to have grown up in the outdoors with very adventurous parents. They included me in all of their adventures and never questioned my ability to keep up no matter the sport. Their unconditional belief that I am capable of anything has made me who I am today. The strength and confidence I have developed in the outdoors have transferred to so many other realms of my life. I am so thankful to both my parents and the outdoors for giving me the confidence to stand up for myself and never take shit from anyone who questions my abilities because I am a woman.

Who is another woman who inspires you?

My partner in all things D.U.M.B (Dangerous, Unmeasurable, Miserable, Beer) Zoe Rom. She is a bad-ass environmental journalist and always down to crush summits, trails and beers.

In the coming years, where would you like to see women in sports/adventure/outdoors?

Wherever they want to be.

To keep up with Emily and her cinnamon roll-fueled adventures, follow her on Instagram or check out her upcoming event March 8th with Feral Mountain Co. in Denver, CO. 

Alex Torquemada

An Amazon. Like the river and the women. 

Alex can best be described as having a towering Amazon-like stature. There is a 90% chance that she will be wearing leggings and flip flops, covered in dog hair and probably eating something with or covered in cheese. She is always with coffee in hand, ready to make plans and get things done.

 

What are your three most prized accomplishments?

1. Winning the 2012 NCAA national rowing champion. Some of my greatest memories are of being a collegiate athlete and it's one of the major aspects that propelled me through to get my degree. (BA in International Studies)
2. Giving into the dirtbag lifestyle and becoming a river guide, which was an absolutely life-changing experience that has given me a completely new sense of self-love and confidence.
3. Creating and selling personal artwork. I don’t think people realize how vulnerable of a thing it is to do. I’m pretty happy I’ve started and I’m excited to see where it takes me. If anything, I’m happy just to be creating.

What are your three favorite things to do?

I only get three?! So hard to choose. Ok...well I love spending time outdoors. From rafting & rock climbing to trailing running & swimming. I also love creating art! I’ve been working on a lot of watercolor and pen & ink pieces recently inspired by my favorite locations. It is one of my great stress relievers. Lastly,  I love to cook! Mealtime and food are a huge component in my life. Whether it’s a weekend barbecue or deep in the backcountry I always try to make an effort to create something special.

Where are your three favorite places to be?

Beaches, desert, canyons - I love it all!

Coastal Northern California. Moonstone beach / Houda point in Trinidad, CA are some of my favorites. They are so iconic with my hometown that they bring nothing but feelings of nostalgia. Joshua Tree has a special place in my heart being my inaugural introduction to the world of climbing outdoors and it’s always in the back of my mind. I’ve been itching to get back there. Finally, I became a firm believer in love at first sight after visiting and hiking the Grand Canyon. I’ve been back twice now since my first visit and have been dreaming of it ever since. I’m endlessly humbled by its vast and immense beauty and power.

What keeps your passion alive?

Strong coffee, good beer, great friends and terrible jokes.

What is your greatest passion?

To pursue the radical and experience it all.

What is one thing that people don't know about you, but should?

I love jeopardy, trivia nights, and almost anything having to do to do with random knowledge trivia.

What is your wildest adventure?

I feel like my wildest adventures are still yet to come. The most recent was probably my close encounter with a bear which was more em-bear-assing that adventurous.

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be?

I love to travel and I feel like every couple of years I ask myself this question. I like to see my dreams become reality and try very hard to make these goals come to fruition. Last year I wanted to climb Machu Picchu so that’s what I did.

This next year my eyes are set on rafting down the Grand Canyon with a small group of my closest friends. I’ve applied for permits so, for now, it’s just crossed fingers and daily prayers to the river gods in hopes of acquiring a permit to make this dream happen.

In the next couple years who knows what it will be?! Life is short why not do the things that you truly want?

What is your personal definition of feminism?

Feminism to me is about equality, representation and collective effort. I feel incredibly blessed to have been surrounded by some seriously badass ladies and feel inspired by them all the time. To me, feminism is about supporting those around you and creating platforms to show that women are capable and deserve to have their voices be heard.

What do you find valuable in being a woman in the adventure/outdoor industry?

This is a really incredible time for women in history. Not only just within the adventure/outdoor industry, but globally. I feel that we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for those who blazed the trail before us. I think now more than ever it’s an incredibly powerful position to be a woman in the outdoor/adventure sector.

Who is another woman who inspires you?

Oh my gosh so many to choose from! These are some of my most recent inspirations.

I feel like a lot of my daily inspiration comes from Janne Robinson her poetry and overall tenacity are incredible, plus her motto “this is for the women who don’t give a f**k” is just great.

Tyler Wright is a major inspiration right now athletically. I feel like she is really challenging the surfing world and charging like no one else. I love her disregard for the status quo and pursuing what she loves in a very authentic way.

Lastly, I’ve been following Nikki Frumkin for a while now and just love everything she creates. She gives me hope in integrating creative outlets with a pursuit of the outdoors.

In the coming years, where would you like to see women in sports/adventure/outdoors?

I would love to see more community support for organizations like NMLFF. I really think that public representation is key in supporting future generations of empowered young girls. I also would love to see more women in more executive roles of major outdoor companies.

Additionally, I would LOVE  to see a shift away from “gender-specific” gear. I’m not a big pink paisley kind of person and I think that there is a big discrepancy when it comes to the type of gear women want and the type of gear they need.

For more on Alex, you can follow her on Instagram or check out her upcoming event March 8th with Adventure’s Edge in Arcata, CA.

The 2017 Women's March

Written by NMLFF Ambassador Dana Wilfahrt on the 2017 Women's March in Washington DC. All photos by Tee Smith.

I’ve sat down to write this many times but the events of the week and dismay in our country has left me feeling uninspired and a bit frustrated. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to try not to rain on my own parade…

I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Women’s March on DC last weekend with a group of aware, thoughtful, intelligent, peaceful, loving women and men who I’m lucky enough to call my friends.

With an alpine start from Portland, ME on Friday morning, 14 friends and I piled in our rented van-bus and drove and drove and ate and didn’t drink water (it would have added at least 5 more stops) and drove some more. 14 and a half hours later we landed in D.C. feeling car tired but energized with the buzz of juxtaposition in the political capital of the country.

Saturday morning slowly approached, as excited anxiety always seems to slow time. A day of unity, blood (frozen snot), sweat (shivers) and tears (tears) was about to begin. The walk over to the rally site was welcoming as groundskeepers of the city clapped and cheered, and thanked and photographed the sea of proud smiles and pink “cat” hats.

Two amazing things happened while the rally took place pre-march:

1.     Total silence. The speaker closest to our spot in the school of sardines stopped working after the first speech by America Ferrera. Bummer. The group around us – close to two thousand people – grew absolutely silent. You could’ve heard a pin drop. Never before had I been a part of a group that, when silence was necessary, every single person obliged. All outdoor explorers know, silence is the easiest way to listen; not to hear, but to listen.

2.     Conscious noise. When noise was necessary, it was done so with purpose. No anger. Peace offerings to your neighbors (snacks), laughter and meaningful conversations filled the crowd. It was pure magic. Maybe not magic though, maybe just how living beings naturally treat each other. As the great Cyndi Lauper said, “anger is not better clarity and humanity. That is what opens people’s minds”. Thank you, Cyndi.

I traveled with 15 friends but quickly realized upon arrival that every person there was a friend. Do you remember those characteristics that I listed my friends as having earlier? Well, all 2.5 million people that showed up to marches across the country value those characteristics too. (I almost wrote “the people that showed up to marches across the country possess those characteristics”, but c’mon, everybody possesses those qualities.) We were all there together – not necessarily with common beliefs or interests, but a common intention: the intention to spread peace and respect. Respect in a peaceful way. Peace respectfully.


Additional Reading for the 2018 Women's March

Find Events Near You. Women's March Official Website.

Women’s March Returns a Year Later, as Movement Evolves. The New York Times.

Why We (Still) March: Women's March Leaders On The Importance Of Momentum. Girl Boss Media.

Photo by Tee Smith

Allie D'Andrea

Angler, Activist, Awesome.

Allie is pretty hard to miss. She is the tall athletic gal rocking a ball cap over messy hair, probably holding a bow and hauling a 2-night backcountry set up on her back for her next hunt. If you say hi, she'll likely ask you if you're hungry and offer you a piece of venison.

What are your three most prized accomplishments?

My 8+ year relationship with my boyfriend Nick, owning my own business/ being my own boss, & the travel trailer that Nick & I will live out of for the majority of 2018. It doesn't exist yet.. but I already talk about it like a proud parent. I refer to it as the less-sexy-version-of-van life, trailer.

 What are your three favorite things to do?

Fly fish for trout with a dry fly (about the only fishing I can do confidently), backcountry overnights (whether for hunting or simply exploration), and having a good beer with good people.

Where are you three favorite places to be?

Pick any large swath of mountainous public land and it's probably on my list.

What is your greatest passion?

Being in wild, remote, untouched spaces. Alone or with a few great friends.

What keeps your passion alive?

I'll never run out of wild places to explore.

What is one thing people don’t know about you but should?

I only eat meat that has been killed and processed by me or friends/family (almost). It's a process, but I'm close :)

What is your wildest adventure?

Solo mountain adventures. Solo hunts, overnights, they all feel wild.

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be?

I yearn for the ability to go anywhere (anywhere I can tow my less-sexy-vanlife travel trailer) and do anything. Doesn't actually matter where. As long as there are mountains, public land, and adventure to be had.

What is your personal definition of feminism?

I think of myself as an anti-feminist, feminist. I want equality for ALL. The way I'd like to define it is just that- Equality for all.

What do you find valuable in being a woman in the adventure/outdoor industry?

I'm an adventure seeking, outdoor loving, hunter, angler, and steward of the land. I find value in being part of the outdoor industry through the impact I have on the fight to protect our public lands. Gender aside.

Who is another woman who inspires you?

AISHA! Can I say that? That's probably not allowed lol. Nicole Qualtieri. She is an absolute gem. Hunter, angler, backpacker, kind-hearted, wild game eating badass.

In the coming years, where would you like to see women in sports/adventure/outdoors?

Just doing it! Doing it confidently and enjoying every second of it.

For more Allie follow her on Instagram and subscribe to her kick-ass Youtube channel!

Emily McDermott

A Whitewater Voluntary Swimmer 

Emily is self-described as a pretty average chick with light brown hair, two nose rings and some semi-large ear holes, also your right-hand gal (minus the right hand)...dead giveaway if she is wearing a t-shirt, irrelevant if she is in her usual mega-baggy attire.

What are your three most prized accomplishments?

Public speaking in front of a crowd of 400 people at the age of 6, getting up on water skis, clipping into a bolt with my little hand

Describe yourself to a stranger so that they could find you on a crowded street…

What are your three favorite things to do?

Try to paddle but mostly swim through gnarly whitewater, lie on warm rocks in the sun/sometimes climb up them and educate keen individuals on the outdoors/flora & fauna/fun facts.

Where are your three favorite places to be?

Pretty much anywhere outside, but I especially enjoy the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Little Cove at Bruce Peninsula National Park and Lake Moraine in Banff National Park.

What is your greatest passion?

Ah! Such a difficult question. I think my passion is being connected and immersed in nature, but also, connecting to people through nature.

What keeps your passion alive?

Seeing the little light turn on, and the glow that others emit when they realize how valuable our earth's gifts are, from the resources to its healing and protective nature.

What is one thing that people don't know about you, but should?

I call my right hand my "little hand" rather than residual limb, stump, nub or whatever word you can come up with, and absolutely despise the word "disabled" as I am extremely able.

What is your wildest adventure?

Traveling in a motorhome cross-country with my immediate family...you wanna talk about adventures? Put four strong personalities in a 30ft motorized vehicle. Oh yeah, and two dogs.

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be?

Back to my childhood when it's completely acceptable to be carefree and ask all the questions I never did, but also to the Northwest Territories for a longish self-sustained expedition.

What is your personal definition of feminism?

Feminism to me is all about equality. Sometimes using the word feminism throws me off a little bit because it can be deceiving as to what you stand for but I believe at its basis, what we all should be striving towards is equal opportunity

What do you find valuable in being a woman in the adventure/outdoor industry?

Perspective.

Who is another woman who inspires you/your WCW (include an Instagram handle, if available)?

In all honesty, this question has really frustrated me, because I genuinely can't think of a single female that I have idolized or been inspired by, which I think speaks volumes to the lack of publicity and/or acknowledgment of powerful and inspiring female figures in this industry.

In the coming years, where would you like to see women in sports/adventure/outdoors?

EVERYWHERE! but really I would love to see more women being bad-ass and shown off as much as our male counterparts.

For more, you can follow Emily on Instagram.

Go Fast. No Rules.

This piece was written by one of NMLFF's original Ambassadors Hannah Lippe. 

I looked up at the thin, shimmering line of ice above me.  Water dripped out the sides of the ice, dampening the rock underneath the tenuous frozen line I was supposed to climb up.

“So, um, how do I do this?”

My climbing partner, a guy I’d met skiing only a few weeks before, gave me a bemused look. He was probably wondering why he’d invited me on the first ice climb of the season in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  He replied, “Go fast. No rules.”

He checked that my carabiner was locked, turned his crampons uphill, and swung his tools into the fragile ice.  Within a few minutes, he was out of sight.

I stood there, feeding out rope as he moved quickly up the pitch, shivering and wondering why I’d thought ice climbing might be fun.

Pretty soon, I heard the call from above: “BELAY OFF!”

I took the rope out of my belay device, pulled off my enormous puffy coat, and put on my thinner climbing gloves.  I waited until I heard, “ON BELAY.”  Here goes.

I swung the ice tool into the first patch of ice I saw.  Ping!  It bounced right off.  I kicked my crampon into the ice at my feet. The ice shattered. There was too little ice and too much rock.

“Oh Jesus,” I thought. “How the hell am I going to get up this cliff if I can’t even put these sharps things in ice? Isn’t that the whole point of them??” My heart pounded as I envisioned the catastrophic embarrassment of yelling up to my new climbing partner that I couldn’t do it.  Then I remembered: Go fast. No rules.

I took a deep breath and reached up to hook my ice tool behind a rock.  I lifted my opposing leg to wriggle my crampons in between two rocks and started moving, forcing myself to let go of how I thought I should I use my tools and crampons, and instead used the sharp objects attached to my hands and feet as wedges, levers, hammers, and hooks.  I grabbed, pulled, stabbed, jammed, wriggled, and clawed my way up.   

I reached the belay about 70 feet later, with my Arcteryx bibs torn in a few spots and feeling utterly victorious.  

My climbing partner quickly tied me into the anchor and we prepared to set off for the next pitch. I followed him up the next two pitches, forcing myself to keep my heart rate down and experiment with different ice tool and crampon placements to move quickly, though maybe not gracefully, up the ice.

As the sun began to sink below the mountains, we topped out on the top of the Black Dike, one of New England’s most iconic ice climbs. I pulled on my enormous down jacket, a little stunned and very proud. I couldn’t wait to do it again.


Photo Credit: Mickey Hardt

Go fast.  No rules.

These words have continued to ring true for me in many ways.  A year after this experience, I keep reminding myself, when I get stuck or lost or confused: Hannah, go fast. No rules.

I have always loved rules. Growing up, I played team sports, where rules abound.  I loved school because I knew the rules: study hard, listen to the teacher, get good grades, go to a great college.  When I was class president in middle school, I loved helping the school administrators enforce the rules.  I saw things pretty black and white -- either you did the right thing and followed the rules, or you did the wrong thing and broke the rules.  

And, when it came to following the rules, I certainly did not go fast.  I went sloowww. My sister’s favorite story to tell is about the time I visited her at her college on a weekend. I spent the entire weekend in her college library studying for an upcoming plant biology test.  When my sister swung through the library on Sunday with friend to check on me, her friend asked me, “Oh wow, is your test tomorrow?”  I said “Oh no, it’s in three weeks.”  Slow. I would read, re-read, and re-re-read every essay I had written and agonize over every decision I made.  Slow.

And, because of my love of rules, I’ve struggled with a lot of anxiety, fear, and depression for the eight years since graduating college. During that time, I was in search of the “right” career and life path that I thought followed all the rules -- find a good career path, get a great job, find a husband, buy a house.  For one reason or another, though, these things didn’t happen as quickly, at all, or in the order I thought they were “supposed to,” even though I was following the rules.

I spent a lot of nights panicked and wondering how I’d gotten so far outside the rules. I dwelled in a slow, indecisive pool of anxiety.  I wanted a teacher to tell me that I was doing the right thing in life and give me an A, and without that, I didn’t how how to discover my own path forward.

In the last year, climbing and learning how to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of ice and rock has flipped my perspective.  With the mantra of  “Go fast, no rules,” I started to see how I limited myself with my own perspective and desire to do the “right” thing.  In climbing, there’s no one path to the top, and it’s rarely straightforward.  You always have to be prepared to respond to a turn in the weather, an unexpected change in the route, or just not feeling at your best.  You have to move fast and be decisive.  Rather than looking at these hiccups as barriers or negatives, I learned to look at them as part of the adventure.  I never know exactly what’s going to happen, but I keep my stoke high, reframe each problem into a new opportunity, and go fast.

Photo Credit: Mickey Hardt

Climbing has helped me discover, as many of you probably knew way before I did, there are no rules in adult life.  There’s no one way to live your life -- no right job or path. Not only is there no right way, but there’s no wrong way. I used to fear what I didn’t know about what life would hold and would worry that I wasn’t doing the right thing.

These fears still pop up from time to time.  But now, I’m more comfortable with ambiguity and not knowing what path my life might take, or if the decision I’m making is the right one.  I make decisions more quickly, creatively, and fearlessly, whether it’s jumping into a new project at work or flying out spontaneously to join a friend to for a bike and ski adventure in Oregon.  I am excited about a life of discovery and exploration rather than rules and answers.

Right now, I’m nowhere I ever thought I’d be, and I’m happier than ever.  I have a quirky job working in innovation at a massive financial services company and many friends that will laugh through the hail and windstorms with me. I am pouring energy, time, and passion into my adventure life.  I don’t have a set career or life direction, and I’m having a fucking blast.  

And when I start to panic, I keep my heart rate down and experiment with unexpected movements and handholds, forcing myself to move quickly, though maybe not gracefully, through life.  Then, every so often, I look at what I’m doing and still feel a little stunned, very proud, and can’t wait to keep doing it.

Melise Edwards

melise-edwards-bouldering

A donut-fueled Discoverer

Melise is easy to spot, she is usually the girl with an afro likely eating an entire box of pastries.

What are your three favorite things to do?

My three favorite things to do are reading, being outside and eating sweet treats.

Where are your three favorite places to be?

Squamish, BC; Boone, North Carolina; Gold Bar, Washington.

What is your greatest passion?

Neuroscience, climbing and helping others.

What keeps your passion alive?

Constantly learning new things, whether that be new information or discoveries in science or new areas to explore in climbing.

What is one thing that people don't know about you, but should?

I can eat at least 6 doughnuts in one sitting. I got embarrassed after 6 and had to stop myself but I could have definitely eaten more.

What is your wildest adventure?

Navigating full time work, training for climbing, online classes, volunteering and side projects for different companies. Talk about wild!

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be?

I would go to Rocklands, South Africa for the climbing and wildlife!

What is your personal definition of feminism?

My personal definition of feminism would include trusting women to make their own decisions as well as securing equal rights for women. I've seen so many instances of groups claiming feminism but follow it with shaming women for wearing make up, being too "fragile," wearing the wrong types of clothes, etc. If you are truly a feminist, you wouldn't need to interject your opinion on every facet of a woman's existence. Treat women as equal, trust women to make their own decisions, empower by listening.

What do you find valuable in being a woman in the adventure/outdoor industry?

As a woman in the outdoor industry, I find it valuable to engage in dialogue about feminism, diversity, privilege and how these things are inextricably linked in the bigger picture that includes society at large and, by extension, our smaller outdoor communities.

Who is another woman who inspires you?

Bethany Lebewitz is an amazing woman who seeks to encourage diversity in climbing through her website, social media and events.

In the coming years, where would you like to see women in sports/adventure/outdoors?

In the coming years, I would like to see women--specifically more women of color--represented in all outdoor sports, especially rock climbing. We shouldn't forget that speaking about women in the outdoors hasn't always been an extremely inclusive discussion; diversity is sorely needed in the outdoor industry.

For more on Melise, you can follow her on Instagram, Twitter and her website.

Aisha + Kathy go to Austin, TX

Kathy and I had just 48 hours to spend in Austin, Texas. Since this is our second trip to Texas in the last few months, we are returning more seasoned and ready for Segways. While the trip was short, we did get the essentials before the big event. We made it to Jo’s Coffee for breakfast tacos and Iced Turbos, the Big Top Candy Shop, Allen’s Boots, and made it to the bridge just in time to see the stream of bats launch into their nightly feeding frenzy. 

The event - a fundraiser for Casting for Recovery, was stupendous. The Yeti Flagship store is revolutionary and includes all of the necessities for a good time: a bar, good people and indestructible coolers. Who could ask for anything more? A powerful and impactful cause? Check. Casting for Recovery does incredible work and we look forward to teaming up with these ladies every year. CfR was our first tour stop, so coming back here is a great marker for how far we have come and it feels like coming home.

Lise and Susan, two of the figureheads in the company have fostered an amazing community of diverse women who are all connected by two elements: breast cancer and fly fishing. Casting for Recovery provides women affected by breast cancer a free weekend-long fly-fishing excursion, granting these women an opportunity to step away from their diagnoses and be with others who understand their journey.

We are honored to be a part of this incredible organization and are looking forward to years to come. Casting for Recovery gives us hope and reminds us that humanity is rooted in good. See you next year, Austin!