Aug 11, 2012

The People You Meet: The Tremendously Talented Guide, Isabelle Santoire

I've been known to be a bit nervous when it comes to heights and exposure (yes, this is kind of ironic given my climbing ambitions!!). I've put on more than a few brave faces trying desperately to ignore the butterflies in my stomach when looking over the edge of a sheer rock face. Over the past few months, these butterflies have subsided thanks to the amazingly inspiring and talented UAIGM Mountain Guide, friend, mentor and teacher Isabelle Santiore. I now find myself looking forward to the sheer drops with a smile, feeling incredibly privileged to see the world from this unique perspective..!

A fellow Canadian, Isabelle is one of the inspirational and hugely talented people that I've met through this crazy altitude-driven journey and someone from whom who I have learned a tremendous amount. She is an inspiring athlete and unique teacher. On skis, or on a rock face, or when meeting to discuss ambitions over a coffee in sunny Chamonix, she is passionate about sharing the spectacular vertical world that is the mecca of the Alps. Her goals are to encourage others to experience the same and to go beyond their own perceived physical and mental limits.

Based in my idea of 'heaven' - aka the Chamonix valley, it's no surprise that Isabelle has become a local icon with her contagious smile and warm personality. She can point out most summits and tell you a story about a climb she has done or a North Face on which she has shivered on.

As a French Canadian, Isabelle grew up in the extreme winters of Quebec - something that I could relate to thanks to my university days in Montreal...! It wasn't until Isabelle came to Switzerland, 20 years ago as a teacher, that she discovered the high mountains. Since those first steps, her life has taken a dramatic change. Whilst finishing a Masters degree in Adult Education in Geneva, she found herself drawn ever closer to the rock walls and snows of the European Alps.

Her extensive adventures around the world include: traversing the Alps on telemarks, experiencing the high altitude of Aconcagua, Denali and Ama Dablam, battling spin drifts in Alaska and exploring the mountainous regions of Peru and Bolivia. This motivated her to pursue her passion as a career. She is now one of just 16 women in France to have made the mountains her home as a professional mountain guide and member of the UIAGM. 

Heading up to the summit

Being the proud mum of 2 gorgeous young children, Isabelle had to adapt her mountaineering aspirations. She continues to live in the constant search for perfect balance enabling others to achieve their alpine dreams safely and spending time with her family. 

Climbing, mountaineering and skiing remain a source of inspiration to her. Whether on rock or ice, in the mountains or sports climbing, she relishes these forms of creative expression. She needs daily challenges, the search for a solution to the seemingly impossible.

Looking for an adventure..?
I highly recommend getting in touch with Isabelle to develop an itinerary that suits your objectives and ambitions, and choose from an endless selection of classic ski tours and climbing routes in and around Chamonix. Take one day out or spend several on a hut-to-hut tour of the Alps. Some of the most breath-taking scenery and journeys are to be had at the VallĂ©e Blanche, Grand Paradiso, Bernese Oberland and along the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route.

Go ice climbing, snow shoeing, glacier trekking or climb Mont Blanc & surrounding peaks. The possibilities are endless - so go, get out there, explore the vertical world and have FUN!!!

Isabelle Santoire
Tel: +33 6 88 65 27 75


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