THE FASHIONISTA ALPINISTA
Ice skater, mountain climber, fashion designer, long-distance cyclist, model: what does Angela VanWiemeersch not succeed at?
A lot, she’ll tell you. “You should call the article, ‘Poor, Failing & Flailing,” she joked recently over a text message. But at just 25, VanWiemeersch has accomplished more than most people twice her age. Through her teen years she ice skated competitively while living in Detroit, Michigan, and then she attended college for fashion design. She still dabbles in avant garde fashion, making some fabulously intricate clothes, but her focus (or obsession) now is exploration.
At 19, she embarked on a 1400-mile, solo bike tour from Michigan to Canada, quickly followed by a 430-mile, unsupported trip on the Mackenzie River, Canada. And now, an obsessive ultralight ice and alpine climber, she’s traveled thrice to Alaska, succeeding on a wild first ascent on Mount Hayes in 2014, and climbing a first female, solo (i.e. by herself with no ropes) ascent of one of Alaska’s most classic, difficult routes, Ham and Eggs, on the Moose's Tooth. VanWiemeersch has also put up numerous first ascents of ice climbs in Zion National Park.
And all the while she does these things carrying very little. “After a year on the road I realized the things I didn’t need, but liked—a vintage hat, an old army canteen—were holding me back. My pack was so heavy!”
On the other hand, VanWiermeersch admits that going light isn’t always glamorous, especially when you’re sleeping in a bush wrapped up in a tarp like a taco. “But when your pack weighs 12 pounds, the places you can hike to are limitless, and your adventure becomes worth more than the tangible.” We sat down with VanWiemeersch to ask her a few questions about her philosophy on life, how she reaches her Zen moments in the mountains and more.
What gets you up in the morning?
In what ways have you applied minimalist philosophies to the rest of your life?
I keep it simple so staying in transit is easy.
How and what do you do to achieve your optimal self?
I live passionately. I try hard and I don’t give up, no matter how grim things may look. I always try to push it that much harder.
What gets you to your Zen moment in the mountains?
Trying hard. Every time it gets me there.
What motivates you to focus?
High consequence decision-making motivates me; it’s important enough to make even ME focus.
On a given day, what absolute necessities are in your pack? What extras
For alpine climbing I always have food, fuel, stove, slings, ice screws, camming devices, adequate clothes for the climate, and a secret treat for my climbing partners for the summit.
What is something that’s really important to you?
I like to encourage people to get out of their comfort zones, whether that’s encouraging them to go to a party if you’re introverted or going for a run if you hate running. Do something that makes you squirm, and do it again. Then see what happens.
What sports do you primarily partake in?
I was a competitive ice skater all through my teens! Now I rock climb, ice climb, alpine climb and snowboard.
When and why did you join the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Team?
Three years ago (2012), at the Bozeman Ice Fest, because duh, Hyperlite packs are the best.
What’s your favorite piece of Hyperlite Mountain Gear equipment?
The 2400 Ice Pack; it’s light, has great back support and is simple.
You can also find Angela on her blog...