One of "the world's most sought after (ski) guides" joins le family!
Le Bent’s ever-expanding team of athletes and ambassadors are certainly no strangers to adventure. Professional skiers, snowboarders and ultra runners rely on our gear in some of the harshest environments around.
But few, if any, adventure like our latest recruit.
Laura Adams is perhaps the most badass adventurer we’ve had the pleasure of bringing on board and we couldn’t have been more excited when, after tossing a few pairs of socks her way last season, she told us:
“I’m finding it hard to put any other socks on since I’ve worn yours!”
Safe to say Laura won’t be in any other socks now she’s officially a part of le family, but where she takes those socks is anyone’s guess.
Laura has spent her life guiding and adventuring in the most remote corners of the globe. These include climbing, skiing, paddling and ocean expeditions throughout North America, Asia, Europe, New Zealand, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic. Laura was the fifth woman in Canada to become a fully certified ACMG Ski Guide, was New Zealand’s national women’s kite-surfing champion, and even has a master’s degree in Leadership.
We first met Laura when she guided Le Bent co-founder Simon Blondel during a week with Mustang Powder cat skiing in British Columbia.
Laura 'working' with Mustang Powder...
We caught up with Laura amongst the mountains of western Canada to ask a few questions on a storied career that sees her named one of the ‘worlds most adventurous women of 2019’.
LB: Laura, thanks for speaking with us, and welcome to the team!
Thanks! I’m stoked to be part of le family - the ethos and people involved in Le Bent really resonates with me.
So it’s now summer in the northern hemisphere, but you just got back from the mountains… where have you been?
I’ve just returned from leading a ski-touring expedition into the remote fiords of central Baffin Island, Nunavut Canada. Baffin Island has the highest concentration of big walls in the world surrounded by spectacular ski terrain, a unique polar ecosystem and fascinating Inuit culture.
Epic! You’ve done so many amazing things to date in the adventure world, is there one thing in particular you’re most proud of?
Looking back today it is not the trips or objectives that I have accomplished that make me most proud. It is the contributions I have made to enhance peoples lives, to support science, and to inspire others to develop deeper connections with themselves and the natural world.
When did you realise you wanted a career in adventure?
At an early age I recognized my greatest passion was exploring wild places. My father was an accomplished mountaineer and my first memories were waking up in a tent at a climbing camp high up in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada. Our parents would swap days doing first ascents with taking care of the kids and introducing us to climbing, paddling and bush craft. I was curious by nature and just couldn’t get enough of it! So I started the mountain guiding program as soon as I was old enough and then became a certified teacher so I could share my love of the outdoors with others.
You seem to have a finger in lots of adventure pies – guiding, avalanche forecasting, education and even painting! Was ski guiding always the dream and these other aspects just naturally evolved?
I am an explorer at heart and I love sharing these experiences with others through teaching, guiding and speaking. In my 20’s I did an equal amount of rock and alpine guiding over the seasons, however that shifted naturally over time as I started working in both hemispheres and following the snow. After my Masters research in high-risk decision making, I lived in New Zealand for 10 years ski guiding in the beautiful Southern Alps and forecasting for the public avalanche program. Over the years I’ve experienced more ski seasons than birthdays ;-). More recently I am spending an increasing amount of time in the Arctic where my skis propel me only part of the time. On one day I may be driving a zodiac trolling for marine plastics, and on another carrying a shotgun and guarding guests from polar bears.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you tie snow science in with social science and decision making in the mountains?
The outdoors are full of uncertainty and are places of constant change; for example the terrain, the snowpack and the weather conditions that influence it. However many of the incidents that occur happen because of human factors. I observed this in both recreationists and professionals early in my career, and that inspired me to pursue my Masters to better understand why, and to use this understanding to develop better decision support tools.
Understanding the things that influence our judgement and the processes we use to make decisions in the outdoors enables us to be better decision makers. Recognizing when we are being influenced by human factors such as uncertainty, fatigue, personal issues, or group ‘think’ provides a powerful tool to choose better actions, or adjust an existing plan accordingly. Being mindful and present is a big part of the picture.
Men’s Journal has called you “one of the most sought-after guides in the world”, what companies have you guided for and where are some of the places they’ve taken you?
I started my guiding career with Canadian Mountain Holidays where I was fortunate to learn ‘the ropes’ within a big team of experienced guides from all around the world. I guided at many of the ski-touring lodges in BC, and then spent a decade working with Alpine Guides in New Zealand. Since returning to Canada I do some guiding for Mustang Powder and work on environmental voyages for Adventure Canada in the Arctic.
However, I have always led my own private expeditions, and this forms the bulk of my guiding work these days – with a focus on remote, culturally interesting parts of the globe. I do take on interesting exploratory projects for other companies, and last year I lead the first Arctic heliskiing for Weber Arctic in central Baffin Island.
Laura leading groups in the Arctic.
Has there been one trip or place in particular that has had a bigger impact on you than anywhere else?
I’ve really fascinated with remote mountain cultures and the peoples that have lived for centuries in these wild places. In January I explored the ancient Tuvan mountain culture of northern China where skiing originated over 10,000 years ago. And over the past few years I’ve been involved in seven expeditions to the Arctic to guide, explore and support science. The Inuit people have lived there for over 4.5 thousand years in some of the most diverse and pristine ecosystems on our planet. I have seen the impacts of climate change both to the environment and to the peoples, and worked alongside scientists who are studying its implications. These experiences have fuelled my concern about climate change, as these are not only local issues – these are critical global problems with alarming consequences. I’ve painted an Arctic series that is currently on exhibit, and have been speaking and sharing images of the rapidly changing Arctic environment with the hopes of inspiring people to make changes in their lives and for governments to develop policy and tangible actions to respond.
Laura and her guided group touring the Altai Mountains of China in early 2019 - one of the first ski expeditions there.
Now you don’t have any social media presence, is that a conscious decision? Because your life is pretty ‘instagrammable!’
I am often on lengthy expeditions in remote regions far from internet and Wi-Fi. I reach my followers through my guests, my speaking and writing, and my art. I share my experiences and perspectives through meaningful interactions and conversations with people – it is the ethos that underpins how I work and approach life.
What have you learned about ski or hike socks in all your years wearing them?
Comfortable feet are the most important thing for us self-propelled adventurers! What is next to our skin is fundamental to both comfort and skin health; particularly when you are doing back-to-back days and lengthy expeditions. I had a colleague develop trench foot (really!) during a ski-traverse in the Bugaboos – now that is something you never want to get!
What is it about Le Bent you find most appealing?
Le Bent is far more than just exceptionally high-performing socks. The bamboo/merino blend base layers are the most comfortable garments I’ve worn – and super stylish too! I’m looking forward to watching the women’s line grow and evolve into the future!
Laura took our Le Snow Sock mountain biking in Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada last week and told us "Le Snow Sock is now my favourite mountain biking sock in the summer months."
Where’s the next adventure?
I’m home in Nelson, BC for a few weeks now before I head to the West Coast of Greenland, Devon Island and the Canadian Arctic.
ABOUT LAURA ADAMS
Age: Timeless ; -)
Hometown: Nelson BC Canada
Home Resort: Whitewater
Sponsors: Le Bent, G3, Arc’Teryx
Favourite Le Bent gear: Le Snow Sock – also my favourite for mountain biking; and Le Base layers.
Extended Bio: Laura’s love of exploration and learning has taken her all over the world; from solo climbing in the Himalayas in her early 20’s to ski guiding amongst the big walls of Canada’s remote Baffin Island. She has kite-surfed New Zealand’s rugged coastlines, explored the Arctic archipelago by ski and water, and ski -toured amongst the ancient Tuvan mountain peoples of far northern China. Laura is a passionate advocate of the natural world and for the peoples that live within these wild places.
Alongside her guiding career, Laura has held senior leadership roles in the international outdoor community: as chief executive representing New Zealand’s outdoor recreation and adventure tourism sector; editor of a national outdoor magazine, adviser to government, and lead for a wide-range of innovation and transformation projects. Her Masters research into human factors and decision-making in mountain environments shed new light into the design of decision support tools, and was recognized by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Laura was recently chosen as one of the world’s most adventurous women in the Men’s Journal article ‘The New Adventure Icons’ (January 2019); and by Explore as a women they admire for International Women’s Day in March 2019. She sits on the advisory board for Canada’s Centre for Tourism Policy and Research, is a published author, professional speaker and workshop facilitator, landscape oil painter, and a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Laura lives in Nelson, British Columbia Canada.