In 1992, diny harrison was trying to become the first woman in North America to earn full certification as an international mountain guide. Tired of being referred to as the first "girl guide" to try to pass the exam, she showed up for her final interview wearing a borrowed Girl Scout uniform. "One guy's eyebrows were going up and down, and another was just looking at me and laughing," Harrison says. "And the third guy-he was trying to look up my tunic."
If Diny (DIE-knee-it's a diminutive of Diana) Harrison's outfit made a statement, so did her results: Not only did she pass the exam, she went on to serve as president of the Canadian Avalanche Institute, become a member of Marmot's clothing-design team, and take on the assistant manager job for the Revelstoke arm of Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH). It is particularly impressive that Harrison achieved her guiding certification in Canada, whose stringent standards have been Euro-based ever since the Canadian Pacific Railway began importing Swiss mountain guides around 1900.
Harrison's rapid-fire, potty-mouth joking is legendary among CMH clientele. In the coatroom of a Banff restaurant, she probes mockingly for what she says is a sub-navel tattoo of Mighty Mouse. "I guess pussy ate it," she declares. She is also quick with a retort for European men who are often insulted by the prospect of a female guide but who relish the opportunity to ski behind Harrison's compact, well-sculpted frame. "I'm imagining what you sound like when you orgasm," one hissed. "I squeal like a pig," Harrison shot back.
Any man with issues about having a female guide will usually change his mind once he sees Harrison ski. "We get all types of conditions up here, and Diny skis very strong through all of them," says Rob Rohn, director of mountain operations for CMH. "And she has absolutely no trouble leaving someone in the dust if she wants to."
Rohn says Harrison has her own collection of returning clients. "We have 12 different operations and 70 percent returning clientele," he says. "Some people like to vary their location, but a lot of people return to Revelstoke every year-and Diny is certainly a big part of the reason why."
Harrison says her career continues to require judgment as much as any other skill set. "There are times when you ski right down on top of a cliff or into a wind slab," Harrison says. "And you realize you've got to walk everybody back up. That part of the job will never change."
Born: October 11, 1958; Toronto
Career Move: Harrison has spent 14 years with CMH. She is fully certified in both summer and winter with the International Federation of Mountain Guides (IFMG) and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG).
Successful Student: A lover of landscape art, Diny attended both the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Alberta College of Art. She spends her off-seasons creating silk-screened landscapes.
Aimez-Vous mon heli? Diny has guided throughout Europe, including Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. She speaks English, French, and German.
Copter Envy: As much as Diny loves the skiing and guiding aspect of her job, she also has a deep love for the ride. "The helicopter's the ultimate ATV," she says.