Maria grew up in Newfoundland, Canada. Deeply connected with nature, she spent her childhood summers exploring this province that has a strong sense of place, dramatic coastlines, sweeping barrens, thick boreal forests, rich wildlife and outport culture. In 1989, her adventurous spirit led her west to Jasper, Alberta, where she fell in love with the mountains and mountain activities. Climbing, backcountry skiing and caving dominated her life for the next few years, during which her curiosity about this environment developed into a fascination with geology, resulting in a degree from the University of Calgary.
After a spell working as a geoscientist in Calgary, the mountains drew her back to Canmore, Alberta and the start of a career in outdoor adventure and education, initially as a technical cave guide and as an educator for the Yoho Burgess Shale Foundation. This was interspersed with many personal adventures, including an expedition to explore caves with high CO2 in Thailand with National Geographic.
She eventually became a co-owner and operator of Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, Canada’s premier mountain instruction and guiding school, until 2010 when they sold the company. Since 2012, Maria has combined her geology, guiding skills and maritime beginnings, and now spends up to six months a year working as a lecturer and expedition leader in the Arctic and Antarctic. She is passionate about the polar regions and their conservation, and has embraced the opportunity to nurture ambassadors for these areas through her work.