Hayley Gendron is a multi-disciplined and quietly adventurous character who advocates for indigenous and environmental rights. Without making a song and dance about it all, her experience sees her in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian rainforest working with animals, travelling and adventuring from Patagonia to Canada, and mountaineering and rock climbing all while learning her native language Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and promoting indigenous rights. When she’s not doing this? You can probably find her paddling in the bay around Vancouver or hiking a nearby mountain.
The episode talks about the influence of adventure, purest canoe expeditions (is portaging necessary?), type 2 fun, wearing a hockey helmet for rock climbing, falling in love with landscapes, the Yosemite Of The Sea, indigenous rights and its relation to environmental protection, lessons learned from native languages, an adventure-gone-wrong in Patagonia, and more!
Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and all other platforms; just search “Between The Mountains” or Ask Alexa! (“Alexa, play Between The Mountains Adventure Podcast!”).
We Have An Obligation, Not A Right
A wonderful take-away from the episode is Hayley’s learned view that we have an obligation to nature and wild places. The world does not owe us anything, quite the opposite!
Early on we discuss the importance of indigenous rights from her family history and moving in to her language learning of Ojibwe. Not only has Hayley taken the view that we have an obligation, but the language itself helps to reinforce that. In Ojibwe, everything is alive – there is no “it”.
Indigenous rights are intertwined with environmental protection, listen to Hayley speak more on this in the episode.
Learning From Mistakes To Prevent Larger Ones
Further along, we get in to her adventure in Patagonia and opportunistically making use of the unusually large weather window to head out across one of the largest ice-fields in the world. Hayley’s big story here was about falling into a crevasse, at a peculiar angle, and how she got out.
What was unusual about the fall, was the angle of the crevasse. The first part of the trek saw no snow cover and easily avoidable crevasses as they walked perpendicular to them. But, as they walked in to a snow covered region, the angle shifted, and Hayley fell into a crevasse that was running almost parallel to them.
Soaked through – despite wearing gore-tex – listen to Hayley talk us through her thought process, and how she made her way out of there.
The interesting comment Hayley made was that – alongside being glad to have survived – she was happy it happened at that point. Why? If it hadn’t occurred, she suspects that she could have become more and more relaxed on more and more expeditions… and then if that went wrong it would go wrong in a bigger way.
It all comes down to what a future guest on the show discusses: keeping on top of yourself before lots of little mistakes add up.
Why not also read about my smaller version of this on Pen Y Fan, where lots of small mistakes added up on a perfectly small mountain to learn on.
Finding Acceptable Risk
It keeps making an appearance across the podcast, and following Hayley’s anecdote of falling in to a crevasse it only made sense to investigate her thoughts on this.
For Hayley, finding the line of acceptable risk actually starts by walking backwards and mitigating as much as possible.
One reason she loves climbing so much is that it is all about creating redundancies and systems that take away any risk of danger. Another point Hayley considers is that she is not an adrenaline junkie, instead preferring sports that are more slow and intentional with their movement and purpose.
But, even on that note, guests like BASE Jumper Tim Howell even approaches his sport (of basically freefalling off of cliff edges) in the same method of risk mitigation and stepping away from unacceptable risk… perhaps a reason why he is still here to even attend a podcast…
In asking this question to so many accomplished adventures such as Hayley, the summary that strikes me is that it really depends on your experience, weighed with the goal and what you could potentially leave behind. “A slow push approach and never get yourself into something you don’t think you could get yourself out of” is Hayley’s advice.
Hayley was a fantastic guest on the show and I hope you enjoy her thoughts, experience, and mindset on adventure and culture.
If you haven’t already, you should absolutely go and check out her Instagram, where you can keep up to date. Her tag is @hayoui
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Preparedness, skill, and a love of Type 2 fun draws Will back to Patagonia each time. Hear about his experience kayaking in the region!
Emily Scott flashbacks to multiple Ironman competitions while talking mountains, adventures, and more
Ian Finch talks about his experience with and passion for expeditions that explore culture and purpose. We also chat about the remote wild in the Scottish Highlands, paddling the Yukon River, and more
“It was such a pleasure being interviewed by Chris. He was fun, easy-going, and impressively well-researched! Although it was our first time talking, it felt like I was catching up with a long-time friend, and our hour-plus chat absolutely flew by. I was honoured that he asked to talk about the issues that matter most to me, and dig a lot deeper than just surface level travel stories. To me, the most beautiful part about podcasts is that—as with Indigenous oral histories—they create and require strong listening skills, and Chris exemplifies exactly what a great listener looks and sounds like.Continue reading “Hayley Gendron”