By: Maya Schrager
Until recently in my life I spent most of my time outdoors with male friends, they always seemed more knowledgeable and a more motivated to get outdoors than any females I knew. The term “you’re not like other girls” made me feel like one of the boys, I could keep up. I could rely on them to check avalanche reports, lead the hardest pitches, and take control. What I didn’t know was that I would have female partners come into my life who would empower me, encourage, and push me more than any of my previous partners.
What is the significance of a partner in the Backcountry?
A partner in the backcountry is significant and sometimes difficult to come by. People that you can trust completely both in their technical and physical ability, that have similar risk-tolerance and goals. For me, I have spent time with both small groups and large groups outside, hiking, climbing running and skiing and am always willing to get outside with new people. However, when objectives arise that are not a guaranteed success, I want the partners I know I can trust completely when shit hits the fan. Some of my partners are stronger than me and others have less experience but for the most part we are evenly matched and most importantly can handle scary situations in a calm efficient manner.
Why choose female partners?
Now, I still have male partners that are incredibly supportive and some of my favorite people to get into the mountains with, including my boyfriend. But the feminine energy of a female partner is a game changer. On female expeditions I find myself taking charge of gear, paving the way. Dancing on the trail, singing, peeing in the woods together. I don’t feel I have anything to prove around female partners, they take me seriously because of my skills and knowledge and I feel empowered knowing we are pushing the norm. Our bodies are similar, I feel that with female friends we fuel similarly, require similar recovery, and tend to be similar speed. On a long day out having someone that is evenly matched can grantee a day without frustrations. No men here, our summit, our goal, our accomplishment!
How to find them?
Now that we’ve established the importance of having our best gal pals out in the mountains, it can be a quite intimidating task to create those relationships. While more women are represented in the backcountry every day, I don’t usually bump into them on the street. So here are some tactics I’ve tried to employ:
- Reach out to People you already know: Even if it’s a friend of a friend of your cousin, shoot them a text. It may sound intimidating at first, but they are likely in a similar place that you are and would welcome more female backcountry days.
- Go out and speak up: Colorado has a multitude of ski events, movie premiers and public speakers. Going to events not only exposes you to new information but new people. Reach deep find the courage and ask the cool skier girl in the corner if she wants to head out for a day.
- Partner first, then skier: Some of my favorite ski partners are not “skiers”, I met them running or climbing and since then they have expressed interest in getting into skiing. Backcountry gear is expensive and can be a reasonably intimidating investment, but start small offer to lend them gear, rent gear or buy discounted used gear. They may become one of the best partners you’ve had.
- Take a Course: AIRE 1 courses through all female programs can be a great opportunity to meet female skiers who are also stoked to get outside. Programs like Backcountry Babes offer hut trips where you can grow as a skier and meet other women who are there to do the same.
Even after finding female partners, it comes down to your willingness to be honest and take initiative. Put trips into movement, book the hut trip or the plane ticket. I personally have so many “in the works” girl trips planned. But making the leap to pursue goals with other women is empowering and can encourage more females to follow in your footsteps!