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Anna Cook
10/08/2023 12:37pm

Anna Cook started Guiding with the Wānaka crew at Harris Mountains Heli-ski as an on-call guide in 1994. She’s been full time with us for 20 years now and is an integral member of our guiding team. As our Avalanche Forecasting expert, she has been keeping us safe since forever. The skills and experience she brings to the team are highly regarded and an essential part of our operations and safety.

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The Heli-ski industry attracts more men compared to women – among both clients and guides. Anna reminds us that women can embark upon the industry as equals and bring a different perspective that hugely benefits everyone. Anna brings balance, diversity, and leadership to the table, encouraging women in the industry to back themselves and get amongst it!

What do you love most about being in the mountains?

I love the beauty – the remote environment, and the seemingly purity of the snow. It also has a certain edge that you have to remain focused to the changing conditions around you. This focus keeps you quite intimate with the surroundings. The rest of the world seems to get left behind.

What is it like to work in such a male dominated industry? Are there any changes you’d like to see?

Yes life in a male dominated industry does have its challenges at times. Sometimes male attitude can interfere. But you just have to remind yourself that you are in industry as an equal with the same qualifications, the same skill set, and often the same experience and you have to rise to that belief in yourself. Often too you can be faced with a day of all male clients. I learnt early on to remember that I’m actually the one with the knowledge and skills of the day in front of us, and it no longer gets in the way of my job.

How do you feel about the future of women in skiing?

I don’t think there are changes that the industry itself needs to make to accommodate females within it. It is up to us females to embark upon it as equals. There are a number of really talented females within the industry that carry a lot of respect. We may be a minority in numbers, but not necessarily any less in value.

"The future of women in skiing can only get stronger as barriers of acceptance of what is the norm become less and less."                                                     – Anna Cook

What do you love most about Heli-skiing? 

What I love about Heli-ski guiding is the places it takes me, both internationally and locally. I’m very drawn to the mountains. Obviously the conditions aren’t always perfect, but when it’s a good powder day … you are right there on the spot with that deep, light and dry right in front of you for the taking! The team I work with is also a big part of the job. Most of us have all been working together for a long time now. This is a real added bonus to the job. They are my ‘Winter Mates’!

Any tips for girls wanting to break into the ski/ mountain world?

Don’t feel that just because you are a girl that you are any less, it doesn’t need to hold you back from stepping into the predominantly male dominated industry. Females often put an added perspective on things, which I’ve heard from workmates is much appreciated. It can help balance the office vibe as well … very necessary at times I’m sure!

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Thanks for your commitment to the Harris Mountains Heli-ski Team Anna!