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8 Reasons Why Women Need to Go to the Mountains With Other Women - Women in the Mountains

Editor's Note: Be sure to also check out the best responses from our audience to this article in "11 More Reasons Why Women Need To Go To The Mountains With Other Women." Find the link at the bottom of the story!

Most of my life I’ve been trying to keep up with the guys. I grew up with two older brothers who were bigger, faster, and stronger, so I think that's where my mentality of “chase the men” began; I found myself wishing for their traits and doing everything I could to be just as strong as they were. And when I started really getting into climbing and backcountry skiing, it seemed like I could only find guys who would go with me, and teach me. And that wasn't a bad thing, I think that men and women in the mountains are a fabulous thing; in fact my boyfriend, who is a man, taught me mostly everything I know and I have so much gratitude in my heart for that.

But that said, I've been getting out there with some powerful and badass women lately and it has really been amazing.. here's why:

1. No More Excuses 

Because when you're hangin' with other chicks in the mountains, you no longer have the excuse of "being a girl." You have to push it and be just as good as the strong ladies you chose to go out with that day. I don't always try my hardest when I'm with a bunch of guys because I know I will never quite be as strong or as fast as them so I just work on pacing myself and staying safe. But when it's all girls, we can be a little more competitive and push each other to do better. 

2. Girl Beta

Women generally have similar struggles in the mountains (being short, small, less powerful) so it's great to be around chicks and figure out how to get up a rock route or how to ski a line together.

3. Femininity + Strength

Celebrating and sharing the fantastic relationship and beauty of the way a woman does things in the mountains. Whether it's skiing, climbing, biking, or running, we just do things differently than the boys and it's wonderful to share that.

4. Summit Giggles

Guys just don't giggle and shriek as much as us when they get to the top of a mountain. "Even though I don't enjoy shopping and manicures, I'm still a girl and I get excited and giggly about things." - Lila Scott

5. Epic Conversation

There's nothing like getting together with a girlfriend and solving all the worlds problems while walking up a big hill. Also, connecting with other dirtbag ladies who love the outdoors is one of the greatest pleasures in life!

6. We Always Bring the Best Snacks

Real talk.

7. Thoughtfulness 

Those womanly characteristics like: nurturing, care, consideration, and patience really come in handy in the mountains. At least with backcountry skiing, sometimes I feel like dudes race to the top. Women seem to be less worried about summiting and more worried about the group as a whole. I know that it takes me a long time to get into my groove and I usually start off slow, and having a fellow chick right there with me keeps me motivated and feeling strong even though I'm in the back of the pack.

8. Too Many Selfies

We just can't even contain ourselves. I have no explanation.


Hey everyone! We got a huge response to this article, some loved it, some not so much.  So we decided to publish some user response in a new article,  11 More Reasons Why Women Need To Go To The Mountains With Other Women, be sure to check it out!


From The Column: Women in the Mountains

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About The Author

TGR Contributor Leslie Hittmeier

I'm a photographer and writer. More importantly, I'm a skier, a climber, a trail runner, and a human being who thrives on being in the outdoors. I currently live in Boulder, Colorado, and I work as an editor at Skiing Magazine.

Comments (19)

For the most part, I think this article is great. Women do need to go into the mountains with. But I definitely did not agree with a few lines in it, specifically “I will never be as strong or as fast as them”. And I think that’s bullshit. It is that mentality that makes so many women believe they can never be as fast or as strong. So they stop trying. Yes, there are biological differences between men and women that allow men to excel at a quicker rate in some areas than women. But, especially in climbing, strength is represented in such a variety of skills such as balance and flexibility that women kick ass at.
And then there is the line “Women generally have similiar struggles in the mountains (being short, small, less powerful).” I am short, 5’2” to be exact, and I am small. I do approach climbs differently than my male counterparts and I love girl beta. But it is not because I am less powerful. And I do not climb/hike/ski/bike with women because they are less powerful.
Power is not defined by brute strength. But it is that definition of power that leads women to think they are less capable. Which we are not.

    Thanks for the feedback, and I’m glad you liked the article overall.  It was interesting to see the different responses to this list and I’m actually happy there are women out there pointing out things that didn’t strike true in their lives, because I definitely can’t speak for everyone out there!  This list developed just from talking with my own group of friends and the whole point of this was really just to play with the idea, and start a discussion around why it’s so great to get out with other women! 

Your article made me mad seriously! I spent ten seasons ripping with guys being the only girl and guess what I never once played the girl card and yes it made me far more powerful than skiing with chicks. I too am 5’2 and ski on guys skis and yes I can work them. There are a bunch of girls here who rip and I mean seriously rip who can hold their own, are far better avalanche transceiver experts and can shovel their body weight to get to an avalanche victim. We ski 40 plus degree heavily treed terrain, cat skied all over the world including japan and you write comments that we enjoy giggling? No wonder you all go into your girly huddles. You just took womens’  skiers back to when they skied in dresses. shame! Let’s hope the free ride world tour sees the light and has the same number of women and men’s starters otherwise they are as backward as this article.

Loved the title of the article and was immediately excited to share it on social media and tag a bunch of my adventurous female friends, but decided to read it first. The first line made me sad and angry. “Because when you’re hangin’ with other chicks in the mountains, you no longer have the excuse of “being a girl.” WTF? Most of the rest wasn’t much better. “Get out in the mountains with your female friends so you can giggle on summits and take heaps of selfies?” Really? Who is your target audience here, readers of Seventeen?

Some of your points were great, but overall, I just wanted to re-write the whole thing. You are writing for an audience of independent, strong, confident women—and some of your tone and content is WAY off.

As other women have already pointed out—we are often more skilled and competent than our male friends. Why continue sexist, unhelpful stereotypes? Yes, men do have certain biological advantages, but that doesn’t mean that I (and many other women) don’t push ourselves, and at times do better than the guys we’re with.

I wanted this article to be about connecting with women in a domain that has historically been dominated by men. About letting go of outdated stereotypes and deepening female friendships. But you just went ahead and reinforced a bunch of unhelpful stereotypes.

    Bron, thanks for your comment and perspective. If you, or other folks reading this story, would like to submit your own reasons for why you take to the mountains with other women, please submit them to us (me, really) at ryan.dunfee@tetongravity.com, as Leslie and I are hoping to put together a follow-up article featuring all of your input!

    Well put, Bron! I shared the same excitement followed by horror, dismay, and sadness.

Yes!  I definitely agree that women need to go into the mountains with other women!  The best adventure I ever had was just me and a friend hiking into the wilderness to do 6 pitches up an epic spire.  I’m sure we giggled and had great conversations and definitely did the summit selfie.  But then there are parts of the article that disappointed me and I see that other commenters feel the same.  In no way are we less powerful than men.  We are smaller.  We are built differently.  But one thing I’ve learned—especially after childbirth—- is that power should be considered a core feminine quality.  Being around other women, and Going in to the mountains together allows us to share in the joint experience of being powerful women.

Wow! This article is terrifying. The assumption that girls have a difficult time keeping up with the boys (don’t even think that some boys have difficulty keeping up with us), and that we giggle down the trail (because we could never take ourselves seriously and must always maintain our light and breezy composure) while taking selfies (because girls are so vain) is demeaning, to say the least. Boys should also take offense regarding the assumption that girls are the sex most interested in good food, having deep conversations, and being kind to their mountain buddies. This article is only successful at perpetuating archaic stereotypes.

I enjoyed this article. I found it a light-hearted perspective on mountain vibes. I lived in a mountain town for 5 years and loved my women-only outings. The majority of the time I was the only female or one of two in a group of 20. I consider myself a strong, powerful and independent woman, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to laugh and giggle every once in a while. Making good food, chatting on the way up the mountain, and keeping up with other women is not offensive. I read the comments below and thought they were a little heavy handed. Its not about being tough and manly all the time. The strength of women is that we are multifaceted. We can climb mountains and rip lines with the best, and at the same time laugh and take selfies. You can’t tell me you’ve never taken a selfie with your girls at the top….Come on now. We know you’re badass- this is a rounded out perspective of your badassery-

A retired peace officer, I spent the last 30 years working with mostly men, on both side of the badge.  Being badass means something more to me than just how much I can lift. The greatest advice I ever received was from an even more badass parole agent, the first female agent for the state. She said, don’t ever forget you are a woman. You use your brains and sense of nurturing and you will be more effective than any agent out there. I never forgot these words.

When I was younger, I battled with the notion that I had to compete against men. When I discovered that I could fulfill any of the required policy and procedures as well as any man, I stopped worrying about it.  I met all standards. But when I discovered that I was more effective than them because I had a whole set of tools that they had but for fear of losing their “macho” wouldn’t use, I became their leader.

I backpack with all women. We have the best time ever. I hike with men, and it’s a means to an end. I appreciate this article because it voices what we already know. I’m not in competition with men. I am happy to be me and to be patient with those that are doing their best, even if it means helping us up when we fall, or listening to our silly stories of love and life. Kudos to the author for being happy with herself. Well done.

So much anger, so unnecessary. I liked the article and took it at face value, fun and light hearted. This isn’t a treatise on feminism. I have climbed with all men, a blend of men and women and just women. One thing I have learned is I am different depending on whom I climb/hike/ski with. There is a pressure to achieve more, push harder, climb faster when I am the only woman. I enjoy my women outing so much more as that pressure dissipates. Women and men climb differently, and from my experience, for different reasons. Men (again, my experience) seem to confront the mountain, attack it, assail it and push for the summit. Women seem more peaceful about the process, less willing to take risks. More willing to second guess a route or wait for weather to change. Of course some women want the summit at all costs but not as usual as men. I also find women help other women more than on a blended climb/camp out. Yes, I like having the strength men bring to it all but I enjoy the peace I feel with just my sistas even more.

This article perpetuates all stereotypes about women and climbing. This is something that seems like it should have been written 10 years ago. It is a complete misrepresentation of what some of our most qualified and talented women are doing in the mountains today. Those women read # 7 and simply shake their head at the mockery you have just made of them. Not to mention the rest of your points. I’ll be sure to take a selfie next time I summit Denali with my Dad who taught me how to climb.

uh oh. This could have been good because there are real reasons, but having points like selfies, giggling and better snacks cheapens your more serious arguments.

(And like some of the other commenters I largely don’t agree with those more serious points.)

Appreciate the effort nonetheless.

The negative comments were pretty predictable. Better snacks, selfies, whatevs…. her point of view is legit. Boys vs girls is not a contest and men and women are different. It takes being strong to put something out there that is honest when you know it will be criticized.

I thought the article was fun, it was not supposed to be life changing, and shame on those judgmental people that cannot see the fun in what is being said. It is about having fun!  As a mother of 4 boys, surrounded by men, day in and out, I love going with my friends on trail riding trips on mountains all over the world.  I can say we giggle, laugh till we cry and take as many pictures as possible.  We also use those trips as group therapy,  But, when it comes down to it, we are serious bad asses when it comes to mountain biking.  Just came back from a trip to Peru: Cuzco to Manu on a crappy mountain bike, 30 km uphill at 13,000ft above sea level, 40km downhill racing each other AND all my friends performed. Most of the men I know would have ended up in the support vehicle.

Is it wrong if I just looked at the pics?  :)

    wouldn’t know how to show pics.

I read this article last week and wasn’t happy with what I saw. I felt compelled to write down my own thoughts on the article and the topic itself.

http://todaywasanadventure.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/some-better-reasons-women-should-go-on-adventures-with-other-women/

so different from guys,

on our last backpacking adventure my buddies caught me with a pack of cottonelles, so they buried me up to my neck in an ant hill and left me to “return to nature”