“Oh, we’ve just had an explosion!” said Caroline George.
Mom to three-and-a-half-month-old, Olivia, Caroline was Skyping (sans video) with me from Chamonix and breastfeeding at the same time. Cool as a cucumber, she didn’t seem too fazed by the eruption. Considering her portfolio of incredible ascents and expeditions, I have a feeling it takes a lot more than spit-up (or poop) to upset this IFMGA/UIAGM-certified guide and professional alpinist.
What brought this outdoor adventurer to parenthood? As I was exploring the possibilities for The Adventures in Parenthood Project, I came across a blog post that Caroline wrote for Into the Mountains, the guiding company she runs with her husband Adam, who is also a guide.
In Next summit: Motherhood, Caroline wrote about her “prolific year” of 2011 that included climbing trips in Antarctica, Thailand and Jordan, ski guiding all over the Alps and a one-day ascent of the North Face of the Eiger. But in May of that year, she “hit a wall,” literally. In her article, she describes how she and Adam were climbing the Grand Capuchin when she realized she didn’t want to be there that day. When she reached the anchor, she looked at him, tears in her eyes, and told him she “just wanted to be home and make babies.” And so they did. Well, they made one.
Caroline is a fascinating and inspiring woman in the way she has found balance as an outdoor adventurer amidst her experience with pregnancy and entering parenthood. While her opportunities to be outdoors have been altered somewhat – sometimes she is only able to take short excursions out – she has not sacrificed or compromised something she knows she needs.
Caroline also didn’t compromise on her need to be active while she was pregnant, ski touring on the very day she gave birth. But her choice to continue skiing created some debate. In January, SCARPA posted a photo of Caroline on Facebook. The caption read: “We love this: Caroline is 38 weeks pregnant and still out enjoying powder turns in her SCARPA Gea AT boots.” The photo incited a variety of responses, from harsh criticism to “two thumbs up!”
As Caroline pointed out, the negative reactions came from male respondents, some who were concerned that she was endangering a baby who “can’t speak for itself,” with positive reactions coming from both men and women. We wondered why that is, and speculated that perhaps some men reacted negatively because they had more difficulty gauging how a woman might be feeling, not being able to know what it feels like to be in her body during pregnancy. What do you think? Review the photo and please Leave a (friendly) Reply below with your perspective.
After our hour on Skype (with way more content than I can possibly squeeze here), I asked Caroline if she had any final words. To conclude, she described how important it is for each person in a family unit to keep their sense of identity:
“[Becoming a parent] has enabled me to re-assert my passions and how important it is to have a passion outside of your family. I think in a family there is the you, the me, the we, the kid and everyone has to have a strong identity in order to be a good member of that team. And I think a lot of people forget that the me, the you, and all that need to be really strong in order to have a strong whole.”