Anna Keeling is an IFMGA-certified mountain guide, former ski and adventure racer and one of the original Macpac ambassadors – all the way back in the ‘80s! She’s recently come back into the Macpac family. We’re so lucky to have someone with her depth of knowledge, experience and passion for the outdoors (re)join the team.
Tell us about your background. How did you get into mountaineering and guiding?
I’m from Christchurch originally, but now call Castle Hill Village home. My family and I are also based in Salt Lake City, Utah for half of the year as my husband Scott is from there. I’m an IFMGA guide and I’m very involved in guide training in both New Zealand and the US.
I got my outdoor confidence and fitness through ski racing initially and later, adventure racing. I won the Coast to Coast about half a century ago (so it feels) and also the world’s first adventure race, the Raid Gauloises which took place here in New Zealand, in 1989. These days, I’m also a mum and business owner.
What piece of Macpac kit would you never leave home without?
My favourite Macpac kit would have to be the enduring Pursuit pack. It’s a total classic. Back in the Raid Gauloises in 1989, we used a specially made lightweight version of the Pursuit pack. The one I have now is still true to the original design. It’s a total classic and I love when someone shows up on a trip with an older version that is still going strong.
I also love my Alpine Series Fitzroy jacket – I’ve been using it this past winter in North America tons. It repels water well so it’s perfect for ice climbing and ski touring in all weather in this drier climate. It’s also a very cheerful blue. Colour is important to me because people need to be able to see me – especially in fog or trees. It also cheers me up on grey days!
Tell us about your favourite expedition or outdoors adventure.
That’s a tough call. Sorry, I can’t commit to one place! It might even be my next trip – whenever that happens. The Craigieburn Haute Route, my signature guided trip, is close to my heart. Last year I tramped the classic Three Pass trip in Arthurs Pass with my family and two others. I lived for almost a decade in Wanaka and Central Otago is still special to me. So is Aoraki/Mt Cook and Banks Peninsula.
The thing that is so fabulous about the South Island for me is it’s proximity to such diverse climate bands – coastal, dry high desert areas, high mountains, temperate rainforest, glaciers. Sunny Nelson, epic coast lines like Kaikoura or the Catlins. We’re super lucky.
I also have a great affinity for two places in the US: the Utah desert and the East side of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.