Backcountry Skiing: Where Women Thrive by: Jessica Taylor
It was one of those days in the mountains when the snow falls silently and incessantly through the treetops and the tracks we left behind us disappear within a few hours. I am standing at the bottom of a perfect pitch of deep powder tree skiing, subtly catching my breath as my face aches from smiling. When I gaze up the slope behind me, I can hear giggling, laughing, hooting and hollering as I watch my friends appear from the forest, jumping off every bump in sight and slashing one last turn before they come to a stop above me. We celebrate with a round of high fives and plan our next move. I am surrounded by sisters, mothers and daughters. Their collective powerful female energy lights up the mountains, even through the deep greyness of the snowy day.
Historically, backcountry skiing has been a male dominated venture, deemed too risky or intimidating or uncomfortable for frail and delicate women to endure. Well, that is no longer the case. The mountains are a place to lose yourself and find yourself and they are a place where your gender is irrelevant. Trailheads and backcountry cabins are filled with more women than ever and the ski industry is finally catching on. More and more brands are offering well designed and constructed equipment available in more in inclusive sizes, allowing people of all shapes and sizes to break out of their comfort zones and earn their turns.
Like many women, my introduction to the backcountry involved tagging along with my then boyfriend and his friends while they forayed into the mountains. I was naïve and intimidated and it didn’t take long for me to recognize how little I understood about avalanches, snow and winter travel. I sought out education and new mountain partners and, over a few years, began to take on more of a leadership role on ski touring outings. I learned how to be self-sufficient in navigation, rescue and winter camping. Eventually, I decided to become a certified professional Ski Guide and now I introduce dozens of people to the sport every winter!
For any female skiers out there who are considering ducking the ropes and taking the plunge into the wild world of backcountry skiing, now is a great time! Here are some tips for the ladies out there hoping to expand their skiing horizons:
So, if you’re a woman who has been considering exploring beyond the boundaries of your local ski hill, what are you waiting for? Backcountry skiing is more popular than ever and there are so many opportunities to get out there in inclusive, supportive groups with other likeminded women (and men!). As Warren Miller famously said, “if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”