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Kim Havell

Skier, Mountaineer, Adventurer  Image
Hometown Hong Kong
Current Town Wilson, Wyoming
Instagram @kimhavell

Kim Havell is a long-time ski mountaineer, adventurer and world traveler. She has completed ski descents on all seven continents, including first descents on four of them. Exploring remote corners of our globe, Kim has carved turns from the Arctic to the Antarctic and from the South American Andes to the Central High Atlas in Morocco to the Karakoram of Pakistan. She is a ski guide for EXUM Mountain Guides, JHMR Alpine Guides and Ice Axe Expeditions. Kim has been featured in numerous ski films over the years and written for magazines such as Outside, Powder, Freeskier, ESPN, National Geographic, The Ski Journal and more. In 2013, she was the first woman to ski the Otterbody route on the Grand Teton, and in 2014, she was the first woman to ski guide the Grand Teton.

What motivated you to pursue so many first descents?

My career has been driven by an interest in exploration on skis, and sometimes without, to less-traveled parts of mountain ranges and mountain cultures across the globe. I never searched for records but rather looked for what had not been done to experience the thrill of discovery and the mastery of the unknown. And I didn't always succeed in the traditional sense of achieving a summit, but instead by being rewarded with a rich and full experience of an untrampled wilderness with little to no human presence.

How has it been bringing your family along on adventures? And has that changed the way you approach outdoor pursuits?

Once I had a child, my perspective changed and my focus shifted. Climbing and skiing mountains can be inherently selfish at times and, for me, it has been important to share this path as the next evolution of my career. I love spending time with my husband and daughter in the backcountry and doing fun outdoor pursuits together. While I still love some of the more exciting objectives, I have tempered the need to continually be on the front lines with greater risk—my family is more important to me than any summit or route.

What do you love about ski guiding?

It has been a gift to share what I've learned so that others can see the views from the tops of mountains and feel the sense of accomplishment from getting there on their own two feet. It is incredibly meaningful to share what I love with my clients and see them experience the same joy that I have found through human-powered travel in the backcountry.