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Donor Profile: Willa Harasym Calm and Confident in Climbing – and in Life By Beth Frank E ven after 30 years of mountain‑ eering, Willa Harasym still feels blessed each time she enters the backcountry. "I get such a sense of calm and caring. It's like the mountains are welcoming me to share their space," she says. "On virtually every trip, there's a moment when I run across some wonder‑ ful critter – a marmot, a mountain goat, a bird – and it feels like they are kindly giving me permission to share their home. It's a feeling I can't get anywhere else." An ACC member since 1989, Willa has climbed, backpacked, hiked and skied her way through countless wild spaces in Ontario, western Canada and the Yukon. She joined the Toronto Section that year after relocating from Vancouver for work – she's a lawyer, now retired. "I wanted to stay involved with the moun‑ tains and the ACC was the way to do that." There were trips to the Adirondacks, ice and rock‑climbing, days scaling the granite cliffs of Bon Echo, and section camps in the St. Elias Mountains. While taking a section course on winter mountaineering, she met her future spouse Paul Geddes. "He invited me to go rock climbing and we never looked back." Both Willa and Paul became very active volunteers with the club. She was chair of the Toronto Section and its representative on the national board, and has helped organize section courses, trips, camps and several national projects. After retiring to Vancouver in 2006, Willa became a key member of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour Committee, helping make this event a main fundraising initiative for the Vancouver Section. In 2016, she was awarded the ACC's Distinguished Service Award. "This is the type of club where every‑ one is involved. I've had some great role models who have motivated me to engage on many levels." Willa is particularly gratified by two club accomplishments: in 2000 co‑hosting a segment of the 75th anniversary celebra‑ tion of the first ascent of Mount Alberta by Japanese climbers and co‑leading the club's Centennial Celebration camp in 2006 in the Yukon's St. Elias Mountains. "[The latter] was a very ambitious camp. Incredibly remote – all ice and snow and rock. It was wonderful to share the area with others who'd never been before." Alpine adventuring has always been a huge part of Willa's life. She's been drawn to develop the skills set to explore the wilderness safely. "Safety is a huge issue for me. When I can experience a mountain and stay safe, it gives me a real sense of achievement." Willa says climbing has taught her that you can't control everything, and how important it is to be calm and methodical in dealing with adversity. "I think what I've learned on the moun‑ tain has spilled over into my life. The sense of accomplishment you get provides a level of confidence that permeates all aspects of your world." Above: Another summit!!! – The President – 2006 Toronto Section Camp. Photo Paul Geddes 28 The Alpine Club of Canada | Gazette | Spring 2019

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