This is the third installment of SKI’s profile series celebrating influential women in skiing. From trailblazers to educators to industry-leaders, the women profiled here have left an indelible mark on our sport.
Margaret Wheeler’s mother was horrified when her daughter left her small New Hampshire town and headed to Chamonix, France, after watching too many ski flicks. In hindsight it makes sense: Wheeler’s single mom raised her two sons and daughter at Vermont’s legendary Mad River Glen, letting them loose on the slopes every weekend, where Wheeler would ride the single chairlift, ski down singing, and develop a wicked independence streak that would serve her well throughout her career as one of the most well-respected mountain guides in the country.
To become a fully-certified AMGA/IFMGA guide is no small feat, and when Wheeler achieved that milestone, she became only the second woman in the U.S. to do so. The first was Kathy Cosley, 10 years prior. Currently, there are 170 fully certified AMGA/IFMGA guides and only 15 of them are women.
On that topic: One of big mountain skiing’s most prolific guides sets her sights on who’s next
Fully certified guides must complete rigorous multi-day courses and exams in three disciplines: Ski, Rock, and Alpine through the AMGA, or American Mountain Guides Association. Only when guides pass their exams for each of the three disciplines do they get recognized globally, with the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association certification.