As you may have gleaned from reading about our values, we think that mountaineering and big adventures are about much more than the stamina, strength, and technical skills that our expeditions require. Adventuring with AWE is as much about community and team dynamics as it is about technical expertise. That’s why there are two distinct roles on our expedition leadership teams: the Head Guide, and the Expedition Leader.
The Expedition Leader
The Expedition Leader is your main point of contact from the moment you start your expedition to when you arrive back home. She is an experienced mountaineer (or, for our Stepping Stone Experiences – an experienced backpacker) and competent backcountry adventurer who acts as your one stop resource for any logistics questions, gear advice, day-to-day expedition flow, and more. She typically has deep knowledge of the local terrain and conditions, or extensive experience on comparable terrain in another destination. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder and trained in AWE’s emergency procedures. Most importantly – the Expedition Leader is the culture carrier for your team; she will host your welcome dinner and final team celebration, and proactively help navigate not just the local environment but likely also the many second-generation gender biases we tend to encounter in the mountains.
The Head Guide
No matter the location of a climb or adventure, AWE always partners with a carefully vetted, top-notch local guide organization to ensure that our team members (you!) benefit from the local guides’ in-depth knowledge of route conditions and seasonal changes. The Head Guide has extensive experience with the local terrain and conditions; she is a permitted and certified guide, and is in charge of technical instruction & skills sessions. Her home field is on the trails and on the slopes – you may not always see her during the town-based days of your expedition itinerary.
AWExpeditions places great value on working with female Head Guides, and selects local partner organizations with an eye towards women guides and staff. That said, certain destinations (like, say, Peru or Kyrgyzstan) still have either no fully certified local female guides or only a very small pool. In those cases, a male Head Guide may be working in conjunction with a female Expedition Leader.
At times, where allowed by AWE staff schedules and permit regulations, the Expedition Leader may also serve as the Head Guide.
Both the Expedition Leader and the Head Guide share the same goal: to make your experience an AWE-inspiring one.
We pride ourselves in building community and assembling inclusive, supportive teams of women participants who all share a passion for pushing themselves and expanding their comfort zones. We carefully select partner organizations that subscribe to similar values.
AWE’s partner organizations include Inka Expedicions, Peruvian Mountains, Kilele Afrika, Dreamland Safari Tours and Climbing The Seven Summits.