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Exploring the Outdoors: A Candid Conversation with Two Female Guides on What It Means to be a Woman Outside

As Women’s History Month comes to an end, Lasting Adventures wants to take a minute to feature two incredible female guides and leaders within our company – Kara Maceross, our Yosemite site leader, and Aida Goma Petit, our Olympic site leader. Check out our interview with them below!

Kara, Lasting Adventures Yosemite Site Director

Lasting Adventures: How did you get started working in the outdoors?

Kara: I actually got a late start in the outdoors. When I was 28, my partner at the time took me on my first backpacking trip in Yosemite. This changed the trajectory of my future for the better. I became obsessed with all things outdoors until I finally realized that I could turn these things I love into a career! That prompted me to take a NOLS Outdoor Educator course for backpacking and rock climbing and have been working in the industry ever since!

LA: What is your favorite way to get outside?

Kara: I absolutely love going for long trail runs in the mountains. There’s nothing better than covering lots of miles and letting my mind wander while seeing spectacular scenery and charging those endorphins.

Kara running her first ultramarathon

LA: What are issues you see with inclusivity in the outdoors?

Kara: Until recently, the demographic that was encouraged to pursue outdoors adventures was mainly the white male. Although this is slowly changing, the long, storied history of prejudice because of race, gender, size, etc. remains with many people still having preconceived notions of who ‘belongs’ in the outdoors. Once we all realize that the outdoors is truly for everyone and welcome each other in this space positive things will happen.

LA: How do you think we can make the outdoors more inclusive for everyone?

Kara: There are so many areas for improvement here! On a grander scale companies need to represent more diversity in their advertising, marketing, and upper management. Scholarships and funding should be appropriated to marginalized communities with socio-economic barriers and those underrepresented in the outdoors. On a smaller scale, nothing beats a warm smile and a greeting to make others feel welcome when recreating outside.

LA: What advice would you give to a young girl looking to get into the outdoor industry?
Kara: Follow in the direction of your passions and expect the unexpected. There is not one perfect path to follow in the outdoors industry so as long as you are pursuing what you are passionate about then the opportunities will flourish. But along with the opportunities there will be setbacks and unexpected parts of the journey. Recognize that this is all part of the process and where the growth happens. Embrace the unexpected!

Adventuring in Patagonia

LA: Who are some of the women in your life who inspire you?
Kara: I’m super inspired by all of the badass ladies that I work with! From mountaineering expeditions to conquering multi-pitch climbs all over the country/world, these ladies are breaking down gender stereotypes in the outdoors and pushing their limits.

LA: Who is your favorite female figure in outdoor history and why?

Kara: Lhakpa Sherpa is an amazing mountaineer that has scaled Everest 10 times, more than any other female. She was born in a cave and was denied entry into school growing up because of her gender. Gowing up, she continued having opposition to her climbing because of being female but didn’t let that stop her. She has determination and passion that is to be admired.

LA: Any final thoughts?

Kara: Embrace being outside of your comfort zone, that’s where the magic often happens!

Aida, Lasting Adventures Olympic Site Lead

LA: How did you get started working outdoors?

Aida: After graduating high school I traveled to Africa with my dad and climbed and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro. This experience of discomfort, perseverance, stewardship and growth was a catalyst for my life outdoors. Thus, leading me to seek career opportunities that enable these kinds of experiences and grow me in my experiences. 

LA: What is your favorite way to get outside?

Aida: Alpine trad climbing. I love having to carry everything I need to climb a mountain on my back, utilize my body and brain to accomplish it, and see the world from a different perspective. This empowers me to slow down, express gratitude for my surroundings, and feel capable.   

Aida having extreme focus on a trad climb

LA: What issues do you see with inclusivity in the outdoors?

Aida: One of the biggest issues I see isn’t just funding and access—it’s perception. Shifting perception on who is capable and allowed to be outside is key in making the rest accessible. It is not just the able bodied white male who is allowed to be outside. It is anyone differing in age, race, abilities, sizes, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic backgrounds. When we stop limiting people by the prejudiced perceptions of who we think they are, they are empowered to step into whoever and wherever they want to be. 

LA: How do you think we can make the outdoors more inclusive for everyone?

Aida: There are so many ways the outdoor industry could be more inclusive, but to start here are a few:

  • Elevate indigenous perspectives
  • Acknowledge intersectionality across race, gender, class and other identities 
  • Commit to diversity and inclusivity in every program, brand, community, and culture 
  • Push for autonomy, empowerment, and representation for the disabled community
  • Make gear less expensive or offer alternative programming for renting/borrowing/buying gear
  • Diversify media of outdoor spaces 

LA: What advice would you give to a young girl looking to get into the outdoor industry?

Aida: Fear is the only thing holding you back from the life you want to live. Don’t bully yourself into believing you can’t do it. You can. Don’t let others define who you are, trust your intuition. You will never trust that you can until you step outside of your comfort and try. 

LA: Who are some of the women in your life who inspire you?

Aida: There are many women in my life who inspire me to educate myself further, show up better for myself, invest into community in different ways, and step into discomfort more frequently. One particular woman I would like to highlight is my old boss Andrea. I have never seen someone so committed to holding personal boundaries, pushing community to be accountable for their actions, facilitate healthy relationships, and be a steward of the land. She is a force and I have immense respect for her passion towards an intentional life.

Aida in one of her happy places

LA: Who is your favorite female figure in outdoor history and why?

Aida: I’m not sure If I believe in there being one female in history to look up to. I think there are many. So, if I had to choose one that has been inspiring me lately, it would be Caroline Gleich. She is a ski mountaineer and climate activist who is committed to environmental and social justice. Not only is she all that, she publicly posts about body positivity on social media platforms, pushes politicians on environmental policy, and advocates for using mental health platforms for getting help when you need it. All over badass. She inspires me to commit to environmental and social justice all while having grace for myself in the process. 

LA: Any final thoughts?

Aida: Life is beautiful, messy, and resilient. Just like you. You just have to be brave enough to experience it. 

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