Adventure Woman – Lisa Hunka

Lisa grew up on the Alberta prairies. In her younger adult years she discovered her passion in the Rocky Mountains, with backpacking, mountaineering and climbing. Lisa recalls at an early age receiving a treasured gift,  a pair of cross country skis. Growing up in the heart of the prairies this was one of her first introductions to a sport that would lead her to play in the mountains. Her first career had her very much in the outdoors. After completing her degree in forestry, she started working in the industry in the interior of British Columbia, 100 Mile House and Prince George. She learned through these experiences the importance to her to spend time in nature, which allows her to be more effective at her work in the city. It was her sister who got her into climbing to start when they took a class together, in Edmonton. Now Lisa is the one who continues to adventure further into mountain sports. It is mountaineering that roped (pun intended) Lisa into a life time of seeking challenge and adventure in the mountains. Having taken a hiatus from climbing due to a hand injury. One of the professionals involved in my recovery told Lisa, she would never climb again. She had the opportunity to try a few moves on a bouldering wall, after recovery and was pleased that her hand did hold up and did not provide huge limitations. This inspired Lisa to continue on climbing. 

Lisa is involved in many mountain activities, ice climbing, rock climbing – sport, trad, and multi-pitch, mountaineering. Her biggest accomplishment to date is being able to competently lead outdoors, with getting over the mental game of it. Weight training at her local gym 5-6 days a week is a means to a comfortable weekend of mountain adventure. She also routinely employs her team of massage therapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, and nutritionist to help her stay healthy and strong. Allowing her to continue having fun in the mountains during her time away from work.

Lisa is drawn back to the climbing wall (indoor and outdoor) because of its meditative nature of the sport. “The mountain does not judge you.” While climbing you can only think about the six feet around you. Given the intense need to be completely present while climbing and aware of your immediate surroundings, ones’ mind can not wander back to her life in the city. She doesn’t see her mountain adventures as a balance, as each is not given 50% of her time, she finds making time for her outdoor activities as they are integral to her success at work during the week. Unfortunately, there are times that work must be the priority. She finds having worked in the oil and gas industry of Calgary, with numerous shifts in places of employment as well as redirecting her skills to new career aspirations. The mountain activities provide an opportunity to grow and learn in many areas.

This year Lisa’s goals for the short Rockies outdoor season are to confidently lead a 5.10 outdoors. Last night I watched her project a 5.11 like a boss and sail up multiple 5.10’s in the gym. She would also like to climb a local classic, Mother’s Day Buttress.

Lisa finds many lessons we can learn in our mountain adventures that we can take back to our daily life. For her it is mostly leadership lessons. Being a member of a rope team across glaciers and up to summits she has learned that a strong leader is not always on the front end of the rope. Sometimes as a team lead one needs to move to the middle or back of the rope and listen to everyone else.

“The mountains teach us a lesson every time.” ~Lisa H.

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