The soul blossoms when you leave behind the expectations of everyday life, and meet the challenge of the outdoors with the support and enthusiasm of others.
Emilie Cortes is President of Call of the Wild Adventures, Inc. She left a 16 year career in financial services to align her passion and vocation – empowering women through positive experiences in the outdoors. Emilie has climbed on six of the seven continents and leads backpacking, trekking, and snowcamping trips for Call of the Wild and non-profits such as the Sierra Club. She has a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification, Professional Climbing Guides Institute Top Rope Guide (TRG) certification, and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level II. Emilie holds an MBA in Finance from Berkeley, as well as the CFA and CAIA designations. She is a member of Financial Women's Association, Outdoor Industry Women's Coalition, and has served on the National Association of Women MBAs Board.
Marisa Ferro is living her passion for international travel and outdoor exploration as an Adventure Specialist. Growing up where the ocean meets the redwood forest of Northern California, Marisa’s first love was nature. Being drawn to beauty of many cultures, Marisa received a degree in International Relations and African Studies. Initiation into the world carried like a suitcase as she discovered volunteerism in Ghana, traversed the genius of Peru’s Machu Picchu, danced the ceremonial deities of Orisha's in Brazil, indulged in the tastes of her Italian lineage and met meditation in India. Marisa earned a Masters degree in Leadership for
Sustainability Education integrating experiential education and connection to earth based traditions and spirituality to co-create a curriculum for cultural exchange and service learning. Marisa has served to support assimilation for refugees and immigrant communities in Portland, Oregon and has guided high school students on three-month study abroad programs through SE Asia and East Africa. Marisa is excited to be part of Call of the Wild community! An advocate of lifelong learning, Marisa leads from the heart, inspired from her practice in indigenous ceremonies to carry forth the medicine of a dreamer, hiker, dancer, and empower others to live their most authentic selves.
Tim Page - Operations Manager (aka "The Dude") has been working in the outdoor industry for over twenty years. First, as a ski instructor and later as a guide & administrator. Tim has a B.A. in English Literature, but has been more of a student of adventure and of the world than anything. Having traveled, lived, trekked, climbed and worked in Central America, Asia, and of course the U.S. Tim brings to Call of the Wild a passion for the outdoors and travel. His belief is that taking risks big or small and exploring new places serve to empower and connect people. When "The Dude" is not working you will find him camping with his family, on the Rock, or on a mountain; probably standing over skis or a bike.
Leslie Appling, a guide since 1983, has worked in some of the most remote regions of North and South America and Australia. In 2003 she was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame for her world-wide work with NOLS and the Leave No Trace program, training land managers from as far afield as Saudi Arabia. Of the many types of trips she has led over the years, working with women in the outdoors is her absolute favorite. Leslie's guiding philosophy is "...After all the freeways and skyscrapers have melted back into the earth, the earth will still be here...so come on out and enjoy the "real world"!"
Michelle Bilodeau lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoys backpacking, climbing and mountaineering. She regularly leads backpacking trips with the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Backpacking Section and assists each winter with the Snowcamping Section. Michelle enjoys the tranquility a jaunt into the wilderness offers. She feels that backpacking provides a pathway to exploring nature, challenging oneself, and meeting new friends. Someday she hopes to run a llama farm and run llama packing trips for Call of the Wild.
Cori Coccia is committed to creating access for all to the natural world and to creating healing and transformative experiences for herself and others. She has been a wilderness guide since 1999, predominantly in the Sierra Nevada and Coastal ranges of California and the desert southwest. The desert is her soul land. She works with youth and adults to experience a deepened sense of ability, confidence, power and freedom in themselves through wilderness experiences and has focused much of her career on mentoring young women. As a young adult, Cori felt drawn to wilderness despite her not feeling naturally "good" at any outdoor activities. By intentionally venturing outward and inward, it soon became somewhere where she felt complete and competent and where she learned that she could do more than survive the adversity that had been presented in her life--she could thrive with it.
Cori earned her MS in Environmental Education in 2004 by embarking on a 2 year expedition around the country and living abroad in intentional learning communities. In addition to guiding in the wilds, Cori is a Certified Massage Therapist with a practice in San Francisco. When not working, she spends her time throwing clay on the potters wheel, writing, reading, tending to her community garden plot and galavanting through the Bay Area.
Sandra Corso was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like most “Cariocas” (natives of Rio), she fell in love with nature at a very young age. Because Rio is surrounded by beautiful tropical beaches, islands, rainforest and mountains, it inspires many people with a deep desire to enjoy nature. As an adult, she has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years, leading 2-day to 30-day mountaineering, climbing and backpacking trips. Sandra has been guiding wilderness trips, bike touring as well as bikepacking tours in the Sierras, North Cascades, Colorado Rockies, South America, as well as around the most popular National Parks in U.S. and South America. She is also a senior Outward Bound Instructor and a member of the American Guiding Association, the American Alpine Club, the New Mexico Mountain Club and the Seattle Mountaineers. When not guiding and instructing, Sandra enjoys adventures of her own - the longer the better - all over the world.
Emilie Cortes leads backpacking, trekking, and snowcamping trips for Call of the Wild and non-profits such as the Sierra Club and GirlVentures. In addition to the WFR, she holds the Professional Climbing Guides Institute Top Rope Guide (TRG) certification and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level I & II certifications and was a member of the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit (BAMRU). She is also an avid high-altitude mountaineer and has climbed on six of the seven continents. Emilie was never very athletic when she was young but slowly built skills and confidence in outdoor activities. She now loves all things outdoors - hiking, backpacking, kayaking, mountain biking, yoga, etc - and has even attempted an 8000m peak in the Himalaya called Makalu. Emilie's mantra is "slow and steady wins the game" and takes great delight in leading and coaching women to experience empowerment through achieving physical goals in the outdoors. She typically guides the international trips in Africa and Asia.
Piera Damonte is a Berkeley, California native, scientist and outdoor instructor and guide. She has been backpacking the Sierras for over 10 years, and enjoys many other outdoor pursuits. Once at the helm of a local outdoor non-profit, Piera now instructs river courses for Outward Bound in Utah (when she can get out from behind her desk!) She also enjoys mountain bike touring, having criss-crossed the United States by bike, and is a newly anointed, (and somewhat humbled) ultra-runner.
Abi Fitzgerald grew up playing in the Green Mountains of Vermont on her grandparent's farm, and in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York where she spent many summers as a camp counselor. After a NOLS India mountaineering course in 1999, her wanderlust and dreams of mountain climbing pulled her closer to the Sierra. Since landing in San Francisco, she has led multiple backpacking trips for the Sierra Club in the remote wilderness of Alaska's north slope, the Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic and Wrangell St. Elias. She is also involved with the Sierra Club's Snowcamping section as a leader for their alumni trips, as well as a field member in the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit. As an RN and a WFR, she has a great love for wilderness medicine, but would prefer not to practice her skills on recreational outings, so makes safety and injury prevention top priorities. She is currently completing her Master's of Science in Nursing at SFSU and working towards becoming a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.
Lisa Harding began working for Call of the Wild in 2003. She has spent the past few years alternating seasons teaching outdoor survival in the desert of southern Utah and providing field support for science groups in Antarctica. She is happy to be leaving the South Pole and coming home to California to guide for Call of the Wild once again.
Priscilla McKenney has been both working and playing in the great outdoors for over 30 years, ever since the age of 16 when her family was fogged in on a sailing trip. Priscilla went ashore, came across an Outward Bound instructor, had a chat and immediately realized what she wanted to do with her life - work in the outdoors. She has been involved in the industry ever since! Much of Priscilla’s work and study has focused on outdoor programming for girls and women. Starting with Pacific Crest Outward Bound and Woodswomen in the 1980’s, Priscilla has worked with non-profit adventure-based organizations as director, instructor/guide, team leader and trainer. In the 1990’s, she was co-founder/director of Lois Lane Expeditions, a guiding service that offered mountaineering trips to the Himalayas and the Andes for spunky, brave and curious women. During the past decade, Priscilla has provided leadership in the girls’ outdoor adventure program niche in the areas of innovative program design, research and publication. Currently, Priscilla works with Girl Scouts NorCal and also serves as an Advisor for Outward Bound Bay California, The Mosaic Project and San Francisco State University’s Department of Tourism, Parks and Recreation. She is an avid sea kayaker, sailor, mountaineer and skier. Priscilla guides an occasional trip in the Himalaya and local trips in the SF bay area and Sierras. She also enjoys gardening, cooking and sings in the Threshold Choir. She is currently passionate about outrigger canoe racing.
Tanya Rao's love for travel and adventure was nurtured on a a year-long solo backpacking trip around the world in 2006. While hiking in the Peruvian Andes, backpacking in Patagonia, white-water rafting down the Zambezi and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Tanya discovered that her true passion and life purpose lay in bringing similar life-changing experiences in nature to others. Inspired by a quote by Howard Thurman: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." – Tanya embarked on a career transition from a software engineer to outdoor educator and adventure guide. Tanya holds an MS in Recreation, Parks and Tourism at San Francisco State University, teaches the introductory Women's Backpacking course at San Francisco State University, and works with GirlVentures, empowering adolescent girls to discover their inner strengths through outdoor adventure education. She is a certified yoga teacher and also runs a small business teaching Indian cooking classes in San Francisco. She enjoys rock climbing, biking, photography and playing the ukelele in her spare time.
Bonnie Russell has been a guide for Call of the Wild since 1998. She has camped all her life, began backpacking in her teens while volunteering with kids camps for the YMCA and led trips for the Boy Scouts for 6 years while her sons were members. Bonnie and her husband live in Discovery Bay where she enjoys kayaking & paddle boarding out her back door. She also is a STOTT certified Pilates instructor & a NASM certified personal trainer specializing in women's fitness & corrective exercise. Bonnie loves guiding trips in Yosemite, the Southwest & Hawaii-a favorite spot to practice hula! She says "Nothing relieves stress like hiking up a mountain or down a canyon. This is what I need to keep me centered."
Kara Sigler has been leading outdoor adventure trips in California since 1999, beginning as a river guide on the Kings River and coordinating college backpack trips from her alma-mater of Scripps College. Since living in SF, she has lead trips for Call of the Wild, Girl Ventures, ETC Youth Programs, Bay Area Outreach and Recreation, and Mission Graduates Outdoor Challenge program with high school teens. Her other work involves teaching and leading herbal medicine gathering trips through the Ohlone Center of Herbal Studies in Berkeley. She loves to combine her herbal and outdoor interests to share with Women.
Valerie Giordano grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, close to the Sierras where she went backpacking each summer with her family. She has worn bilateral hearing aides since childhood and has served as a mentor for those with some or complete hearing loss. She loves how movement can empower women and credits rock climbing for challenging herself physically and mentally to work through her own fears. She is in school to receive her bachelors degree as a Registered Nurse and is looking forward to also advancing her Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification. She is an Apprentice Top-Rope climbing guide for Castle Rock Climbing School, working in San Francisco Bay Area favorites such as Castle Rock State Park and Pinnacles National Park, or further away in Joshua Tree National Park. Valerie also guides for GirlVentures, a non-profit guiding company that builds confidence in adolescent girls through outdoor trips. She typically guides rock climbing trips and is expanding her skill set to later lead longer multi-day expeditions in backpacking and hopefully someday in mountaineering as well.
Every guide is a certified Wilderness First Responder and trained in Leave No Trace.