TEAM (AKA THE FANNY PACK)
What first brought Ali, Rebecca, and Kate together was––unsurprisingly––a whole mess of snow. As wide-eyed undergraduate students, each of us studied glaciology and the art of not showering for weeks with the Juneau Icefield Research Program (also known as JIRP). Over nearly two months we skied with a crew of professors and researchers across the icefield from Juneau, Alaska to Atlin, BC, digging snow pits, lugging backpacks, and subsisting on pilot biscuits the whole way. After such intense bliss there was no going back to a normal life: Ali went on to become a glaciologist; Rebecca turned into a near-bionic alpinist; and Kate vowed to someday move to Atlin.
A few years after JIRP, Kate and Ali both ended up at MIT for grad school, where they promptly began dreaming about icy expeditions. Although Rebecca was living in Calgary at the time, we roped her into our schemes from afar. The three of us eventually flew to India to follow in the footsteps of explorer and suffragette Fanny Bullock Workman. In the early 1900s, Fanny set the women's world altitude record on Pinnacle Peak, also known as Lingsarmo, a 6955-metre mountain in the Nun Kun Massif of northern India. A century later, we became the first self-supported, all-woman team to summit that same peak (Fanny brought a lot of dudes on her expedition, including porters and a husband). And so the Fanny Pack was born.
A few years later, in 2015, Kate had moved to Atlin and the Fanny Pack reunited for another grand adventure—this time on the wild edges of the notorious 'Stans... BORDERSKI!
Dr. Alison Criscitiello
Ali loves the cold. Loves it. As a post-doctoral fellow and glaciologist at the University of Calgary, she studies the history of sea ice in polar regions, which involves long months of living in a tent and drilling ice cores in places like Antarctica, Alaska, and Greenland. Ali holds the first PhD in Glaciology ever conferred by MIT.
When she's not busy shivering for science, Ali seeks out the cold for fun, whether working as a climbing ranger in national parks or guiding expeditions to major peaks in the Andes, Alaska, and the Himalaya.
In 2010, Ali fearlessly led the Fanny Pack's all-women’s ascent of Pinnacle Peak. Before that, she was awarded the American Alpine Club (AAC)'s Under 25 Mountaineering Fellowship Fund Grant, and after that she won the AAC's Live Your Dream grant for an expedition to the Little Switzerland area of the Central Alaska Range. During that expedition, she and her climbing partner made pioneering first all-female ascents on mixed routes off the Pika Glacier. Last but not least, and most recently of all, Ali was awarded AAC Lara Kellogg and Scott Fischer Conservation Grants for Borderski.
In her spare time, Ali kicks butt in Ironmans, catches lobsters, plays the mirror game with her identical twin sister, and generally makes the rest of us feel equal parts inspired and lazy.
Rebecca is best known for her willingness to talk about feelings. Just kidding! Her infectious “joie de vivre” is her most defining characteristic, and it's never more apparent than when she's wandering the remote, forgotten corners of the earth both near and far from civilization.
Having grown up in Calgary, Canada, the Rocky Mountains were the endless playground of Rebecca's energetic youth, which hasn't ended yet. In the last decade, Rebecca has focused on rock and alpine climbing in the summer, and skiing and ski mountaineering during the long Canadian winter. Notable summits include fourteen of the 11,000-ers in the Rockies both in summer and winter conditions.
Almost every weekend, whatever the weather, Rebecca can be found––or better yet can't be found––in the mountains, and she jumps at opportunities to partake in extended trips whenever possible. These have included a two-month paddle down the Mackenzie River in northern Canada, the Fanny Pack's all-woman expedition to summit Pinnacle Peak (6955m), two traverses of the Juneau Icefield, and a number of seven to fourteen-day hikes and ski traverses in the Canadian Rockies, including the Bugaboos-Rogers traverse. In 2012, Rebecca was selected to participate in The North Face Summer Leadership course in recognition of her abilities and her contributions to the Alpine Club of Canada.
When she is not out causing a ruckus in the mountains, Rebecca works as a geologist in Calgary, with past field work experience in the Canadian Arctic, northern Alberta, BC, and the Canadian Rockies.
Kate Harris is a writer with a grudge against borders and a knack for getting lost. Named one of Canada's top 10 adventurers by Explore magazine (because getting lost so often leads to adventure), and winner of the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, her writing and photography have featured in publications such as The Walrus, The Georgia Review, Orion, and Sierra, and cited in Best American Essays.
All her life Kate intended to become a scientist––until she spent two years at Oxford studying the history of science. This master's degree program justified reading explorers' journals and writing essays about the early mapping of the Himalaya as "work" (activities Kate had previously considered "play"), which basically ruined her for laboratory science forever. She wrote her thesis at Oxford about the geopolitics of mountain borderlands, focused on the Siachen glacier (which Fanny Bullock Workman was the first to fully map). Then she went on to study geobiology at MIT, where it became even more clear that her future was in the mountains experimenting with words rather than in a laboratory experimenting with microbes. So she wrapped up her second master's degree as quickly as possible, took off skiing across the Hardangervidda, and hit the road––the Silk Road, to be precise.
Lately she's been busy writing a book about that Silk Road adventure, reporting on biodiversity and environmental issues for IISD, and cultivating a genius for sauntering, particularly throughout her adopted homeland of northernmost British Columbia. She is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, and was named a "Woman of Discovery" by Wings WorldQuest.
Check out her website for more info.
Tatjana (Tanya) Rosen Michel, expedition wildlife biologist
and conservation advisor
Trained as a wildlife biologist as well as an international lawyer, Tanya is the Snow Leopard Program Coordinator for Panthera in Tajikistan. On any given day in her adventurous life, you might find Tanya collaring snow leopards, counting Marco Polo sheep, setting up conservation meetings between bordering nations, helping local communities predator-proof their livestock fences, or, as shown above, riding horses between research sites in the remote Pamir mountains. Tanya, in other words, is the Jane Goodall of Central Asia, and we're thrilled to partner with her on Borderski. Together, we'll leverage adventure into environmental advocacy in Tajikistan and beyond.
Before joining Panthera, Tanya received a Masters of Science in Social Ecology at Yale University, Master of Laws at Harvard University and a Juris Doctor from Italy’s Universita Statale di Milano. After practicing law in the United States and Italy, Tanya’s interest in large carnivores led her back to school. Tanya studied bear ecology with the USGS Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team and conducted work on human-carnivore conflict in Yellowstone and Italy, and in Pakistan with Project Snow Leopard. Prior to joining Panthera, Tanya also worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on human-wolf conflict in Montana, and developing a framework for trans-boundary Marco Polo sheep conservation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Tajikistan.
RA CRISCITIELLO, ESQ.,
Ra is thrilled to play a key part in supporting her identical twin sister, Ali, and the Borderski team, by functioning as their point person for operations. She happily accepted this role out of (self-proclaimed) substantially self-serving reasons, having to do primarily with knowing where and how her twin sister is while she follows Marco Polo sheep across the Pamir Mountains.
As proof of heredity for risk aversion (or lack thereof), Ra is an avid surfer. Although she now lives in Northern California, her favorite location is still winter storm-surfing in Maine. Aside from surfing, Ra is a triathlete, skier, cyclist, public interest lawyer, and a labor union activist.
WEATHER FORECAST ADVISOR
Jocelyn is delighted to support the Borderski team by providing local weather forecasts along their journey for wildlife, border awareness, and introspection.
Jocelyn works as a Resource Conservation Officer for Canada’s Mountain National Parks. She is invested in the management of ecosystem services, from grizzly bears to water quality. You can find her grinning ear-to-ear as she roams the backcountry on foot, ski, or horseback.
Before joining Parks Canada, Jocelyn earned a Masters of Science in Glacio-hydrology at the University of Calgary. She consulted on glacier contributions to streamflow in the upper Columbia River Basin to University of Northern British Columbia and Columbia Basin Trust. This research comes at a crucial time as the Columbia Basin Treaty is up for renegotiation between the U.S. and Canada. She more recently worked for Water Matters, an NGO that works towards water policy reform in the Province of Alberta. Between climbing, skiing, and exploring, she continues to do work with her environmental consulting company, Neve Environmental.
While Borderski is off skiing Central Asia’s Pamir Mountains, Christine will be keeping the team's website and social media components up to date from the US. A lifelong adventurer, Christine has a special appreciation for self-supported, international quests that repeatedly test one’s endurance and commitment on the way to achieving incredible goals. Her preferred means of travel, however, is by two wheels. Christine has twice crossed the US solo by bike: once from Maine to Oregon (purposely choosing an east to west route with more headwinds) and from Canada to Mexico along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (think high altitudes, rugged descents, and frequent bear sightings). More recently, Christine circumnavigated Iceland on a solo bikepacking trip where volcanoes, glaciers, and geysers were made all the more beautiful by days of rain, sleet, and prevailing coastal winds on the bike.
A former women's lacrosse player at Brown University, Christine was a coach for Dartmouth College's women's lacrosse program for a decade. Before that, she earned a Master's degree in International Studies from Dartmouth. Grateful for the opportunity to share her passion for athletic pursuit, international development, and individual adventures with this team, Christine can't wait to share Borderski's experience with supporters around the world.
LINDSAY MARIE STEWART, VIDEOGRAPHER
We brought Lindsay on board the Borderski project, and to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, in order to shoot footage to complement what the ski team could capture. She made a teaser for the documentary.