Up Close: Emilie Drinkwater, The Anti-Adrenaline Junkie

One word you might think when you meet Salt Lake City-based climber and mountain guide Emilie Drinkwater is: calm. Of course, that describes a number of mountain guides—it's their job to keep their cool in extreme situations. But Emilie says that surprises people sometimes.

"I’m not an adrenaline junkie," Emilie says. "Sometimes people assume that because my natural habitat seems to be cold, exposed mountain faces that I must enjoy dire situations, a pounding heart and deep trepidation all in exchange for a burst of adrenalin—that hormone that actually tells you something has already gone wrong. Completely the contrary! The mountains almost always terrify me, it’s just that I’m really good at managing fear and stress."

It helps to be good at managing fear and stress when you have the kind of dreams Emilie does. We reached out to find out what she's up to, and what she's got in her pack—and if things go her way, it looks like there will be more cold, more exposed mountain faces, and more dire situations. Here's what she said:

What's one dream trip you haven't done yet that you'd love to get on the books?

For years I’ve been working on a trip the Torngat Mountains on the Labrador/Quebec border just south of Baffin Island, where I’d like to link the park's highest peaks using skis. If you’ve never heard of this place, it contains eastern North America’s only glaciers (rapidly receding), deep fjords, steep mountains and few visitors, particularly in winter. Oh, and polar bears. Lots of polar bears. The hardest part of this trip is putting together the perfect team and figuring out how to deal with the likelihood of hungry bears. I’d also really like to go skiing in Iran and Iraq.

Wow! So, what does this season look like for you? What are you up to at the moment?

After being injured last year I’m doing a lot of catching up this year. Catching up on work, catching up on missed opportunities and catching up on trips I missed out on last year. I’m really looking forward to a summer trip to the Alps to attempt the Peuterey Integral on Mt Blanc. It's 4,500 meters of committing, technical alpine climbing to the top of Mt Blanc. Should be quality Type II Fun, maybe even Type I Fun!

Sounds rad! So, when you're in the alpine, what makes up your go-to kit?

Well, it changes depending on the season and discipline. But what I use most often would be the Deviator Hoody, Cathode Hooded Jacket, and the Diode Hooded Jacket or Floodlight Down Jacket. And yes, usually all at once—I really like insulation! Also, the Cirque Pants, and my standard three-glove minimum consisting of Stormtracker Sensors, Lodestar Sensors and Luminary Sensor Gloves. Those, not all at once.

How about when you're relaxing afterward?

Nuance Tank, Cierra Shirt and Nantina Jeans.

And for bonus points, what are your two favorite OR pieces from this season?

The Nuance Tank and Camila Tee.


Photos by Krystle Wright and Erica Engle.