On Monday, The American Alpine Institute announced four women as the first ever recipients of the "Guide Like Liz" scholarship, awarded to women pursuing careers in guiding.
Lizzy VanPatten, Katelyn Spradley, Haley Johnston, and Amy Ness were each awarded up to $1,000 for programs including AIRE Avalanche courses, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor courses, and Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership. Jason Martin, director of operations at the American Alpine Institute based in Bellingham, Wash., said he would like to see more women in the guiding world.
"The demand is absolutely there. We see lots and lots of course participants that would like to have a female guide," says Martin.
The "Guide Like Liz" scholarship program began this year as a tribute to Liz Daley, the accomplished splitboarder and AMGA-certified guide who died in an avalanche in Patagonia on September 29, 2014 at 29 years old. Daley worked for the American Alpine Institute for three years, making a major impact on her friends and colleagues.
Daley had a resume filled with first-female descents when she applied to the American Alpine Institute as a guide in 2012. She was one of only two female full-time guides and soon became the go-to splitboard guide, says Martin. Always full of excitement and stoked to share her love of the mountains with others, Daley stood out.
Winners of the scholarship are driven women that share the same enthusiasm and level of commitment for the mountains for which Daley was known. Each of this year's recipients has plans to get more women in the backcountry.
While women are still the minority in this field, the numbers are slowly growing. This past year the institute hired eight new guides, including three women.
"If we had a scholarship like this for women prior to her death, I think that Liz would have been vying to teach those individuals," says Martin. "She'd be so psyched to be involved in the education of young female guides.”