K3 guides Kate and Lara break trail in parenthood and backcountry careers

Kate Ediger and Lara Shae discuss breaking trail and thriving through the challenges of parenthood and guiding life with the Revelstoke Mountaineer's Meg Irving.

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Kate and Lara’s warm laughter can’t be contained within the local cafe they frequent and while their little ones skitter about, long blond braids escape from under toques to lash from side to side.

They are as at home here in a cozy window bay as they are determining the impact of last night’s snowfall for their out-of-town clients’ day of cat skiing on K3 Cat Ski tenure.

Both women and their partners guide for K3 this season. Their journey thus far has been a long one; realizing small steps and big hurdles alike as they navigate the murky waters of new parenthood while building, season by season, their dream careers.

A walk in the woods with Kate and her son Timber. Photo courtesy of Kate Ediger
A walk in the woods with Kate and her son Timber. Photo courtesy of Kate Ediger

Revelstoke Mountaineer: You divide your home between at least two towns per year. Of all the locations you could be building your guiding career in, why Revelstoke?

Kate Ediger: Revy is the mecca of mechanized skiing and people want to go get it in the  backcountry. It’s famous for its heli and cat skiing and after meeting the owners at K3 Cat Ski there is no other place I would rather work! That being said, the town itself is my favourite. Everyone is doing something amazing, being active, involved in some way and truly loving life while doing it. Revelstoke is incredible for new families, with programs every single day of the week for kids. I spent two months here last year and already felt at home, the energy here is incredible!

Lara Shae: Our job mostly dictated that we would need to stay in Revelstoke for the winter. However, Revelstoke has been providing a unique structure to our life this year. We’ve spent a fair few days [in Revelstoke] in the past, either in The Pass or at The Modern (drinking a lot of delicious coffee and people watching), before taking a tail-guiding job at K3. So, I had a very rough idea of what it would be like moving here for the winter. It was hard to anticipate what it would be like to live here as a family. But, I’ve been experiencing such a sense of warmth within this community. There are some really great opportunities for kids in Revelstoke, which I was surprised by. I enjoy the change of pace of life, in comparison to Canmore, Alberta. It’s been a slice thus far.

Lara at work. Photo courtesy of Lara, taken by Agathe Bernard.
Lara at work. Photo courtesy of Lara, taken by Agathe Bernard.

RM: What do you do when you’re not guiding?

Kate: When I am not tail guiding you can find me outside with (my son) Timber and [husband] Matt. We love to go exploring, camping, hiking, canoeing fishing basically anything and everything outside. We spend a lot of our free time up at our cabin in northern B.C. There is no cell service or Internet out there, helping us to be fully present with each other. In the winter it is a skier’s paradise, so you can find me out touring with friends, sledding with Timber, or having tea with one of the locals. My other career is photography, so I stay fairly busy throughout the spring and summer capturing peoples special moments in life. A great passion of mine is outdoor photography, and documenting life’s adventures. I am lucky enough to do so through Westcomb Outerwear, A Canadian-made outerwear company that Matt and I are proud ambassadors for. We’ve had such great opportunities to continue to live this life of adventure together. I feel completely blessed.  

Lara: Mostly stereotypical physical outdoorsy things: climbing, biking, fly fishing et cetera. I’m passionate about a lot of things, especially art, painting, photography and drawing. It’s common for me to lose interest when I just solely do physically demanding things, so for me, it’s important to maintain that balance and develop that right side of my brain as much as I can. Now that our daughter is a little more independent, I’m becoming more comfortable jumping into new undertakings for myself lately [like] playing a proactive role in my community, and understanding how many advantages there actually are when getting involved.

Last year I started an organization called Finishing School For Mountain Girls. It’s a community of women that run different styles of programs for each other — I teach the art-based sessions. We have a wide array of heartfelt, spirited women who teach a lot of different subjects. It’s so beneficial, and so rewarding to create something where women can bring their best sides and show that to each other. It builds a stronger network, and provides more opportunities for women to learn something they have always wanted to learn and feel comfortable while doing it. It’s by far one of the most amazing accomplishments I have done lately. I don’t think I have ever come across such a great group of women on a consistent basis. Very empowering and absolutely ridiculous fun. I’m keen on new projects and challenges, especially when it comes to self growth … whether they are non-artistic or artistic endeavours.

Kate at work for K3. Photo courtesy of Kate Ediger.
Kate at work for K3. Photo courtesy of Kate Ediger.

RM: There’s no pretending that guiding has been, historically, a predominantly male-based industry. How is this becoming less of an issue for you professionally?

Kate: It definitely was the case back in the day, but more and more I am noticing a shift with women having the confidence to be out there now. At K3 we are almost taking over! It’s common to not see as many female lead guides, but my guess is that raising a family and being a lead would be rather challenging. A career you would most likely need to focus on before having kids. I absolutely love working with other female guides, and being a woman in a ‘man’s world’ feels so empowering! I absolutely love the challenges the job has to offer: it’s both physically and mentally demanding. I love to give 100% and this job totally challenges me in that way. Plus getting paid to be outside in the mountains riding? You can’t beat it!

Lara: I find that having a female position at a job, where you are catering to mostly a male-based industry doesn’t bother me. It’s kind of always been the case since I’ve stepped into the ski industry — so I suppose I’m just used to the idea. It is great to see more women filling more positions at work, though — mixing up all that testosterone. Variety is a positive thing, for sure.

Lara's daughter Layla is already loving the great outdoors. Photo courtesy of Lara Shae
Lara’s daughter Layla is already loving the great outdoors. Photo courtesy of Lara Shae
Kate and Lara take the little ones on a solo camping trip, skiing 22km to their destination. Photo courtesy of Kate Ediger.
Kate and Lara take the little ones on a solo camping trip, skiing 22km to their destination. Photo courtesy of Kate Ediger.

As both an outdoors-woman and a mother, who inspires you, past or present?

Kate: As an outdoors-woman, I am surrounded by motivated and happy ladies and it really inspire me to be the same. It’s so encouraging to have these things in common with other woman. Life is worth enjoying, and I find woman who are focused on their health and the outdoors are generally more grounded and happier as a whole. There is less cattiness or comparison.
As a new mom, what really inspires me are woman who never let kids slow them down, while just trying to do the best they can, wearing all the hats a mom has to wear, too. The moms that continue to fuel their passions, bodies and minds as well as showcase this beautiful world to their kids. I realized early on that it is really important to maintain stability and balance while being a mom. It makes you a better parent.
One of my biggest goals is to continue to follow my dreams and passions and eventually enjoy them with my kids. Watching Izzy and Zoya Lynch’s mom go backcountry touring: hitting drops, smiling her face off and being such an encouraging and loving mom to her girls makes my heart burst with happiness. That’s what I am going for!
Lara: 
My Mama. She had three girls, and growing underneath her umbrella of love for the outdoors was one of the greatest gifts I could have ever received in life. She views the outdoors as the pinnacle of all beauty. My mom also has an artistic drive, so her insights into creativity have drastically changed the way I view the landscapes I get to play in. I am constantly searching for specific compositions when I’m skiing, climbing, fly fishing, biking. These activities are essentially tools for me to access my creative side. When I come across something that’s undeniably fulfilling, artistically, I can capture it in my memory or on my camera. When it comes time to digest those moments and edit a photo, or paint an abstract recollection, I find myself seeing my mother or my family in almost everything I create. It’s pretty unbelievable, and easy to take for granted. My hope is to show our daughter the same love and artistic view of the outdoors that I have learned from my mother. It’s a beautiful gift, and my duty is to pass that on to her. And obviously, I am hugely influenced by other mothers that get after it outside with their kids. Undoubtedly super inspiring.

 

Kate, her husband Matt Ediger and their son Timber. photo courtesy of Kate Ediger.
Kate, her husband Matt Ediger and their son Timber. photo courtesy of Kate Ediger.

Thanks, Kate and Lara!

Kate’s photography website & Instagram 

Lara’s photography website & Instagram 

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