Norie Kizaki grew up in rural, western Japan where her family managed a Buddhist monastery. When asked, “What’s it like to grow up in a monastery?” Norie says, “It was just like growing up anywhere, like growing up in Colorado.” Growing up in a monastery was all Norie knew.
Norie’s parents welcomed American foreign exchange students throughout Norie’s childhood, which gave her a sense of possibility outside of Japan. When a young American woman told Norie about her desire to go on and become a doctor, Norie’s first response was one of cultural defiance–“You can’t be a doctor, you’re a girl.” Her friend, unshaken, told Norie, “In the US you can be anything you want to be.”
So, after graduating from Tokyo’s prestigious Obirin University, Norie pursued a master’s degree in International Intercultural Communications from the University of Denver. With a master’s degree in hand, Norie started work as a consultant, but the pull of the mountains was too strong.
Norie’s climbing and skiing resume is long and impressive. She became an AMGA certified rock guide and a ski guide shortly after and now guides in Rocky Mountain National Park during the summer and Japan’s infamous backcountry in the winter. Norie also holds the highest certification for avalanche awareness and education (AIARE Level 3 Avalanche Training Certification) and teaches avalanche education courses each winter.
At the start of her guiding career, Norie was the only woman on staff with roughly a dozen men. In an interview with Boulder Weekly, Norie noted, “It’s not good or bad, it’s just, you know…it’s different. I try to focus on the positive side of it … I do have [requests to be guided by] clients because I’m female and because they’re female.”
Beyond her guiding accomplishments, Norie seeks out and achieves personal goals like climbing as a member of the 50th anniversary Women’s Himalayan Expedition in 2005 to climb Gyalgen Peak. Norie has also competed in the Ouray Ice Festival speed competition, skied in Chamonix, and ice and rock climbed in Bolivia, Cayman Brac, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Norway, Spain, and Thailand, so far.
As a guide, Norie is particularly good at working well with her fellow guides to create an environment that emphasizes trust. She is knowledgeable, confident, and supportive. She’s also an excellent leader, listener, teacher, and supporter. And most importantly, Norie is fun!
On her days off you’ll either find Norie outside, climbing, skiing, trail running, or in the kitchen of her Japanese-styled home in Boulder, where she loves to cook and eat Japanese meals with her husband and son.
Don’t miss the opportunity to follow Norie to Hokkaido, Japan with Chicks this winter. Nori knows all the best backcountry powder skiing stashes in Hokkaido and she knows Japanese culture, language, and food better than anyone we know. Go to Chicks Hokkaido, Japan Powder Skiing | In Deep to find out more about our exclusive all-women’s powder skiing trip with Norie as a guide.
Norie’s certifications include:
- AMGA Certified Rock Guide
- AMGA Assistant Ski Guide
- AMGA Certified Rock Instructor
- AIARE 1 Avalanche Instructor
- AAI Level 3 Avalanche Training Certification