Here at Hike365, we would like to start celebrating the work, attitudes and ethos of women who inspire us and who live a Hike365 life.
Alison Criscitiello is one of those women who inspire us. Criscitiello is an adventurer to say the least. While we live in a world where “epicness” sells products and aspirational images dominate our feeds, Criscitiello could surely fill up her socials with images of awe from her award winning expeditions, ski traverses and courageous climbing feats. Yet, she is an influencer because she is a badass scientist. Having received the first PhD at MIT for Glaciology, Criscitiello spends months drilling ice cores and studying them whilst living in a tent.
We caught up with Criscitiello while she had internet in Antarctica — below is our interview.
Meet Alison Criscitiello.
Hike365: Where are you from and where do you live now? What is your job title?
AC: I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but I live in Canada now. I moved to Canmore, Alberta in 2014 after I finished my PhD at MIT. I moved both for an excellent post-doctoral fellowship opportunity, and also to place myself in a location that would allow me to progress as a climber and skier. I am the Technical Director of the Canadian Ice Core Archive, Canada’s national ice core archive and laboratory housed at University of Alberta. I am also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Glaciology at University of Calgary, and Co-director of Girls on Ice Canada.
Hike 365: What do you love most about the Canadian Rockies?
AC: Living in the heart of the Canadian Rockies is the stuff of dreams. Growing up in New England, I spent my younger years in the wilds of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire with my family. But for bigger scale mountains and adventure, I ultimately headed west, to Alaska and Washington state where I began working as a Climbing Ranger. The draw of bigger, looming mountains has continued to bring me farther and farther away from home, and ultimately to the place I only ever dreamed of visiting – the Canadian Rockies. In a place like Canmore, I feel pushed and challenged every day to be the best version of myself I can be; pushed by the incredible community around me, pushed by the athletic excellence, and pushed most of all by the beauty of the place which constantly draws you outside. The truth is that these things all make me better at my “real” job as an ice core scientist, because they keep me physically and mentally balanced and challenged.
Hike 365: What do you wish more people knew about the mountains?
AC: If I had to pick one statement, I would say simply that the mountains are for everyone. I think no matter what level of outdoor adventurer you are – from weekend hikers to professional alpine climbers – we can all get out in it. Humans have a long legacy of anthropomorphizing mountains, but they are not people. They don’t judge, they don’t have emotion. If the portrayal of mountains over time has not reflected your own identity, that is a fault (and a huge one) of people, not of what exists out there in the world of stone and ice. The mountains are for everyone.
Hike 365: Where is your next adventure?
AC: Well, I am currently in Antarctica! I’m writing this at Davis Station, heading into the deep field within a few days. I’m headed into Wilhelm II Land, in East Antarctica, to drill a 350m ice core on an Australian-led project. I have worked for many years in Antarctica, Greenland, the the Canadian high Arctic, drilling ice cores. This record is particularly special because there is very little ice core data from the Indian Ocean sector of Antarctica. In terms of the next big mountain adventure, I will likely be heading back to the Indian Himalaya to see to some unfinished business.
Hike365: You live Hike365, what words can you say to others live Hike365 life?
AC: I find it easy, in the repetitive routines of daily life and work, to let things slip. To tell myself it’s too cold out to go for that run, I’m too tired from work to go for that evening hike. Knowing that small increments add up over time, increasing physical and mental strength for those bigger objectives, I make daily commitments to myself and stick to them. Even when I know I’ll only have a little time in my day to get outside, it’s always worth it. There is no substitute for wilderness, and all the things we gain from immersing in it.
Criscitiello is a brand ambassador for Brooks Range. This is how we found her! We hope more brands decide to sponsor scientists!
Learn more about Alison Criscitiello here.