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12 More Reasons Why Women Need To Go To The Mountains With Other Women

Editor's Note: In honor of International Women's Day, we here at Teton Gravity Research are going through the archives to find some of our favorite content that focuses on the women who make our industry special. This is a follow up to our first-ever "Women in the Mountains" column.

After a great deal of controversy we've pulled your responses together and given some more ladies a voice.  Photo Credit: Leslie Hittmeier

Two days ago we posted an article I wrote called 8 Reasons Women Need to go to the Mountains With Other Women.  The response was overwhelming!  Lots of people loved it, but many felt that it didn't come close to giving women the credit for being the strong and amazing people they are. Of course, it was not my intent to discourage or anger anyone, so in order to try and continue to inspire and motivate, we decided we'd go ahead and try and share those opinions and open up the floor to anyone who wanted to contribute.  We got some seriously amazing feedback that we are super excited to share.  So, without further adieu, here are eleven more kickass reasons, which vary wildly, to get outdoors with other ladies, all submitted by members of our audience:

#1: Because Doing Stuff ‘like a girl’ Means Doing It Awesomely

Society still constantly tells us that being female means being weak. Just think of common insults about doing stuff “ like a girl” -- meaning you are doing something badly -- ie, “Quit throwing like a girl!” Or guys telling each other to stop being ‘pussies’ or or to ‘grow some balls’ or ‘man up’.

When it’s just us and our women friends on a bad-ass mountain adventure, we’re constantly reminded of how strong we are as women. Physically, emotionally, intellectually. In those moments we’re reminded that doing stuff, “like a girl” means doing it awesomely.

-Bron York

#2: Because It's #Boss training

Outdoor adventuring teaches you awesome leadership skills. In fact men have used it since forever as means of developing physical strength and practical how-to-conquer-the-world abilities. It’s called the army.

What better way for women to help each other develop awesome confidence, lateral thinking and world-conquering leadership capabilities without having to suffer rampant sexual harassment!? Want to help mentor an awesome young woman you know? -- invite her on a women-only outdoor adventure. Watch how inspired she gets being around a bunch of amazing, strong female role models. She’ll come away knowing that she is capable of anything.

-Bron York

#3: To build excellent and meaningful relationships

Some of the best relationships materialize from spending time with each other in the mountains.  Photo Credit: Scott Larson

Why I take to the mountains with women is that being in the outdoors is about creating community. It’s a way to connect with other women, to share your passions, your challenges, your ups and downs. Everything we do on in the mountains translates to other parts of our lives, whether it’s raising a family or running a company (or whatever you do). And you can’t do any of that without people by your side. You build long-lasting, incredibly supportive and enriching relationships with women in the mountains. And not to say that you can’t do that with men, or that it’s better than spending time with me, it’s just different. And different is OK and it’s good to shake things up.

-Jen Gurecki, CEO, Coalition Snow

Nothing beats bonding with other women in nature. Whether it’s talking over that idea for a new business you want to start, solving the world’s problems, singing songs, or sharing painful or hilarious stories around a night fire -- no one ‘gets it’ like your women buddies. And in my experience, there isn’t a faster way to bond with new girlfriends than going on an adventure together.

-Bron York

#4: Because Other Women inspire you.

Whether it's your first time lead climbing, skiing a big line, or even just hiking in the mountains, it's easier to get motivated when you are with others.  Photo Credit: Leslie Hittmeier

When I see other women doing awesome things, it's easier to picture myself doing it. (I think this is what the author was TRYING to get at with her reason #1, she just chose to reinforce self-limiting gender stereotypes while she was at it.)

-Kathryn Herndon

I thought the article was great but I'd just like to add to the No More Excuses part.  I would say that when I see another woman do something rad in the mountains, it's extremely INSPIRING.  I think inspiring is the key word.  I've spent my whole life admiring men's abilities and getting pushed by them and it's definitely helped me become the athlete I am today but there is something special and relatable about being with women who push you.  Especially when it's a friend and I see her do something first hand, it lights a special kind of fire under my ass that's different from being pushed by dudes.  It's just different, and it's awesome.  

-Angel Collinson, professional skier, TGR athlete

#5: Because You’re less likely To feel like an outsider

Angel Collinson shredding in Juneau, AK. 

I've spent a lot of time as "the only woman in the room" when there wasn't a room around for miles. I've gotten more confident and comfortable in that role, and there are lots of great men in the outdoor world who won't make you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb or lower their expectations for you. That said, there are also those who constantly remind you that you are not "one of the boys". Often they mean well and are practicing chivalry that's deeply ingrained in their upbringing, but it's still frustrating. With a group of women you don't usually have to put up with that bullshit.

-Kathryn Herndon

#6: Because You're less likely to do something stupid in an effort to prove yourself

I can relate to your author here--she says "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. " I guess I have the opposite reaction: for 3 seasons as a trail crew leader, my response to a man who didn't seem to respect me was to perform some feat of strength and try to earn that respect. I gained some muscles but I was also constantly overdoing it. A lot of this might have been in my head, some of it definitely wasn't, and some men will call you sweetie and try to take the tools out of your hands no matter what you do. It's nice to work alongside women not because we're weaker or less capable, so the bar is lower--but because I usually don't have to worry about where their bar is for me and whether I need to prove myself worthy of their respect.

-Kathryn Herndon

#7: Because Women Are Stronger Than We Realize

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.


#8: Because We Have Unique Strengths Men Don’t

"It takes being around a group of girls for me to remember that yes, I'm a girl, and to embrace all the things that come with it rather than hide them."-Auriele Fain        Photo Credit: Leslie Hittmeier

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 wouldn’t use, for fear of losing their “macho,” 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.

-Hiker Chica

Feminism doesn't necessarily mean making sure women are, and portrayed as, equals in every facet of human existence. We are different than men, and that is ok! What women truly need is to embrace our unique traits as a gender and not always feel the necessity to hide them. It takes being around a group of girls for me to remember that yes, I'm a girl, and to embrace all the things that come with it rather than hide them. I felt this is what Leslie's piece was getting at and why I embraced it so much. Female traits and qualities CAN fit into male dominated spheres.

-Auriele Fain, 1LT and pilot for the United States Air Force

#9: Because Women share your pee challenges

Let’s be real here, peeing -- especially on bare rock, or in the cold-ass snow -- is less convenient for us than it is for guys (unless you have one of these bad boys). You have to think about things like terrain absorbency, slope, velocity and splash-back. Trust me, it’s an artform cultivated over years of experience, involving an indepth knowledge of physics. Whether you’re training for a marathon, camping in the wild, or doing a multi-pitch climb, it helps to have friends that you can discuss technique with. Amirite, ladies?

-Bron York

#10: Because You Have a Different Experience Depending on Who Your Partners Are

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, and climb faster when I am the only woman. I enjoy my women outings 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. They seem 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 frequently as men do. 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.

-Kellie Kenny O’Brien

#11: Because Everyone Should Go Into The Mountains

The key is just to get out, explore, and have fun with people who inspire you.  Photo Credit: Leslie Hittmeier 

Why should women get into the mountains?

Because Nature is beautiful.

Because Nature is challenging.

Because Nature is always changing.

Because we CAN.

These are reasons that EVERYONE should go to the mountains.

-Chris Deloux

#12: Because we can lay the groundwork for future generations

Right now we live in a world where mountain activities are dominated by men. If you need proof of this, just watch a ski movie or open a mountain bike magazine and you'll notice the lack of featured women and female role models. I hope that by pursuing fun and challenging mountain activities with other women, and encouraging each other to climb higher, we can be role models. I believe we can help foster a future in which our daughters don't feel like outsiders in the mountains, and in which we all (men included) inspire each other to succeed in our chosen pursuits, be it mountain biking, climbing, skiing, hiking, or the endless passions that drive us.

-Ashley Ojala 

From The Column: Women in the Mountains

Hey, I liked this article, I liked the original article too-  I knew as soon as I read it there would be backlash. I think the message of this is all about breaking the traditional stereotype of female bonding. It is easy when you are “a girl that gets on with the lads” or “the only girl in the group” to confuse that with “I don’t get along with other women” “other women don’t have the same interests as me”. There are differences in being in male groups and female groups and mixed groups, they are all satisfying in different ways. It is so satisfying to be out just with other women sometimes, you can relax in a way you can’t around men, because we are different we have had different features of our development as people and a group of women will share more of the basics of that than a group of men might. Women will truly be able to answer concerns that maybe a man wont because “how to avoid ball whip” is to us slightly amusing in the same way “how to angle our boobs” might be to them. I think it’s important to emphasize though that as women we should introduce more inexperienced women into sport, there doesn’t need to be this process of getting “as good as a man” standard and then feeling free to roam, it’s true mix groups will help both sexes improve their quality but I’ve found as I’ve got older, so many women who “aren’t into that sort of thing” are just waiting to be asked. Guys often adopt “the girls of the group” but I have had the experience where I am less welcome by the original girl than the men, I couldn’t keep up even though I’d never done something before and the lads would let me get on with it or help out, the girl would tell me “I was such a girl” and say “she is not one of the lads” make out I was a pain, sorry we all have to learn and I don’t have a penis, but neither do you? So I’ve ended up going on my own a lot, I’m not ashamed of building strength, but I can’t stand someone making out I can never be as good as them because I am female especially when they are female themselves. We need to get over this “I’m one of the lads” attitude, we aren’t one of the lads we’re one of the girls and we’re awesome, we’re part of the crew, part of the team but we aren’t male we are female and like this article says we are badass. Being one of the best has nothing to do with being one of the guys.

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This article brought tears to my eyes - Angel’s comments about the power of women as inspiration is something that we at Mountain Mentors ( believe passionately in. We also echo the sentiment that the reason women love to get outside do not differ from the reason why ANYONE loves to be in the mountains - there’s simply nothing like the feeling of summiting a peak, pushing yourself beyond your boundaries, and exploring a new corner of the world. Of course, there are characteristics associated with gender when operating in the backcountry; women are often incredibly skilled communicators and team players, employ a huge amount of compassion and are empowered by opportunities to socialize and connect with other likeminded individuals. I see a generation of women embracing a new definition of femininity and finding strength in their unique talents. I love watching a group of women diplomatically make decisions while moving through avalanche terrain, as our unique skills become assets in risky situations where safety is paramount.

Thank you TGR for creating spaces like this for women to openly discuss and share their experiences.

Thank you for sharing to the time to write this informative blog post. It’s great article with good and useful information! I appreciate your work.

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