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Climbing to the top

October 2, 2010
The Inter-Mountain


Staff Writer

From boulders at Bear Haven to mountains all over the world, Angela Hawse climbs, guides and breathes the outdoors. An Elkins native, Hawse has been recognized by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association as a certified guide.

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MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS ARE ALWAYS FREE — Recognized by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association, Angela Hawse has been a certified guide for more than 24 years. Originally from Elkins, Hawse was intrigued by rock climbing well before her studies of geology at West Virginia Wesleyan College began. Her mother said that family trips to Bear Haven always had her daughter climbing around on the rocks like a “monkey.” Hawse has spent years traveling the world climbing various mountains and rock formations.

"When she was 3 or 4, we would take her to Bear Haven and she was just a monkey on the rocks," Hawse's mother, Joyce, fondly recalls. "As she grew up, she graduated to Seneca Rocks."

Angela's father, Bill, who worked for the U.S. National Park Service, helped to further her love of the outdoors, and as she grew up, she began to take an interest in the outdoors as a career.

Beginning her pursuit of the outdoors by taking classes in geology at West Virginia Wesleyan College, Hawse moved onto Prescott College in Arizona to specialize in its outdoor program. She has now been a professional mountain guide for 24 years.

"I also speak to companies, large corporations usually. I talk about leadership through motivational speaking," she said.

Leading groups in the outdoors is a pretty good comparison to corporate leadership, according to Hawse.

She has traveled around the world gathering experience in her field. She has climbed in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and recently in the Himalayas around the Everest region.

"She is just full of herself, full of life and energy. She once told me, 'The mountain is my office,'" said Joyce Hawse.

According to Angela Hawse, being a professionally certified mountain guide in Europe is a lucrative business that earns pay tantamount to an MD or surgeon.

"I'm responsible for lives in the mountains," she said.

Notified in May, Hawse became the sixth of seven women in the United States to receive certification from IFMGA. In order to be recognized, she underwent strenuous testing in three mountain disciplines: rock, alpine and ski. In the United States, there are a total of 60 IFMGA certified guides.

"The training and in-field tests were difficult. They meant to put me in the worst case scenario so that I would be prepared," Hawse said, referring to the roughly 100 days of effort she put into her certification.

"I would say I was inspired by my home state's motto 'Mountaineers are always free.'"



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