EP 15 Laura Schmonsees
Forging New Paths


Laura fell in love with climbing on a NOLS course at age 19. After college, she worked as a NOLS instructor as well as Guide for JHMG (Jackson Hole Mountain Guides), and in 2001 became one of the first female AMGA certified Rock Guides.

After 15 years of guiding she transitioned to her next career as a Physical Therapist, and later started her company, Wave Tools Therapy, educating others and selling athletic recovery products. Climbing continues to be one of Laura’s greatest passions.

Show Notes:

Laura’s links:

Episode Intro:

Dear listeners of the Female Guides Requested Podcast, welcome back. I’m your host Ting Ting from Las Vegas. Today is another beautiful Wednesday so I’m delivering another fantastic episode with our guest Laura Schmonsees.

I’ve been wanting to interview Laura for quite some time. She has an amazing life story and has gone through quite a few career transitions from a full time instructor and guide to a physical therapist and then to an entrepreneur. She is definitely not afraid of trying new things and she always figures out a way to make them work. She was also one of the first female AMGA certified Rock Guide when she obtained the certification in 2001. Climbing has always be one of Laura’s greatest passions.

In this episode, Laura talked about how her first NOLS course changed her life. How that experience inspired her to live and work in the outdoors. And after 10 years working full time for NOLS visiting and living in pristine and wild places, why she decided to transition into guiding with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, and later what made her decide to start from ground zero and enter the physical therapy school and eventually started her company Wave Tools Therapy, educating others and selling athletic recovery products.

We also discussed how to prevent injury and perform self care to make one’s guiding and athletic life longer and more sustainable. There are so many insights in Laura’s answers and I can’t wait to share our conversations with you all.

Things We Talked about:

  • At age 19 Laura took her first NOLS course and it changed her life
  • After the NOLS course Laura transferred to Prescott College
  • Working for NOLS full time for 10 years (1997-2007)
  • Why Laura loves NOLS (wild places, truly remote, and impact on people)
  • NOLS versus guiding?
  • NOLS has long courses and at some point, Laura wanted more grounding
  • Guiding has shorter trips
  • Became one of the first female AMGA Rock Guides
  • Leaving guiding was hard but it was time for Laura to transition again
  • Physical therapy school from the comfort of being good at something you’ve done for a long time to a total beginner
  • Mountain Senses / Mountain Skills?
  • Mentorship situation in NOLS and in JHMG (Jackson Hole Mountain Guides)
  • Do people romanticize guiding?
  • Currently Laura sees patients and work on her business Wave Tools Therapy to diversify her work time
  • What are the common guides’ injuries?
  • What are the strategies guides can use for injury prevention
  • Self care for a longer athletic life
  • Start and run a business
  • Proudest moments
  • One big take away?
  • Tolerance of uncertainty and adversity