In March of this year, I made a new friend: Hatie Parmeter, a kickass Chicago-based journalist who reached to ask me for an interview for her website, WHOA Magazine. WHOA stands for “Women of Heart & Outdoor Adventure,” and I was so flattered to be asked — but I immediately flew to Nepal, where I was more or less off the grid for five weeks.
Not to be deterred, Hatie kept in touch all summer, and in August she actually flew to Portland to take my writing workshop at the Stay Wild EXPO. She interviewed me in person while we took a long walk in Forest Park, and her published account of our conversations is hard-hitting, perceptive, and honest. It starts with my love of coffee:
It’s 1 a.m. on the day of a summit attempt and Charlotte Austin can smell the cold. The thought of leaving her warm sleeping bag and putting on a freezing sports bra is not appealing. The guide and travel writer hauls herself out of her tent with one goal: coffee. Everything else is flexible, but there must always be coffee.
…and then covers everything from communication styles to my relationship with my body to the way Huckleberry acts when I get home from an expedition.
The handsome giant is often shy when she returns from a long trip but warms up after a day or two. “That used to hurt my feelings […] but I also believe that leaving my family comes with an obligation to be aware of what that experience is like for them, not just for me. It’s easy to come home with stories, scars and souvenirs from other continents, but it’s really important for me to be respectful of what’s happened while I’ve been gone.”