This is not about how women skiers and riders are as good as men. This is not about how we’re better. This is not about comparison at all. This is about celebrating the fact that we live in a new era of winters where there are so many more women on the slopes, in the parks, and in the backcountry that we can honor our strengths on their own.
I asked some of my closest ski partners, both backcountry and on-area, why they believe women are so strong in the mountains, particularly when we’re out with other women. They were transitioning out of a long Rocky Mountain winter as I was transitioning into a New Zealand one. What I received back from across the Pacific was the most inspiring train of thought that has ever graced my internet waves.
Thank to those women who’d rather watch from mountains.
I feel my most powerful when I am dropping into my first turn at the top of the steeps. I feel my freest when I’m linking my turns. And I feel my most powerful when I get to the end of my run, legs burning, lungs gasping, voice crying out with triumph, friends cheering at my side. – Sarah
When you’re exhausted, skinning up the side of a mountain, thinking you may never get to the top, you’re pushing your boundaries and you’re the strongest you’ve ever been, physically, mentally, emotionally. – Bethany
I love the conversations with women about our pants getting tight because our quads are getting huge from tele turns. I love finding out that I’m not the only one that has to buy boots with wide tops because of my enormous calves from skinning up mountains. We love our bodies for what they allow us to accomplish, not what they look like. – Jenni
I like how women will use instinct as a strength as much as physical force. This has been proven time and time again to be valuable, a resource. – Emily
We are individually independent, and cohesively we are a colony that thrives and feeds itself. We are… capable. It isn’t something that has to be discussed nor is it something that we work to make happen, it just is… because it is the code of sisterhood. – Ana
We tend to be more forgiving and accommodating to those who have had to take time off (i.e. injury, child-rearing, career, etc.). When your athleticism has taken an outside hit, friends are still willing to ski with you to help you get right back in the game. – Molly
I love skiing with women who are selfless. Not self-sacrificing; that’s different. They are without ego. They strive to bring everyone to the same level of exhilaration, cheer their partners when they get to the top of a long skin, and share the good lines. – Angela
Grace and Peace
I love the word grace. It so beautifully defines for me a woman in the mountains. – Katy
Maybe it can be called “forced meditation.” I call it peace. Up the slow lift, up the skin track, you’re planning where you’ll find that happy place. Peace finds you on the descent – even the chicken-heady, crusty, icey, or slow, pop-out-of-your-boots, slushy turns – peace is there every second of the downhill. You feel the snow and terrain and simply BE with the mountain. – Sarah
I love the feeling of the stillness of effortless powder turns on a snowboard in really, really deep powder. The world stops, the worries gone. Your mind is only focused on each turn – the slightest effort of rocking back and forth completely encompassed by the elation of floating on cold smoke. – Jenny
It’s the fastest I get to go under my own power and the closest I come to flying. – Bethany
Learning from Other Capable Women
I never would have ventured into the backcountry on skis without some powerful encouragement from women who not only fanned the spark of my interest in purchasing gear, but also invited me along to test it out the first time. – Angela
Skiing in the company of other smart, strong and beautiful women helps me learn. How do you ski dust on crust; what do you do when your binding breaks at the top of a peak? Beyond that, they have taught me to think deeply before making decisions, to surround yourself and others with understanding and unwavering support, but most importantly: to always bring chocolate. – Mo
We Like to Have FUN
We love dance parties. Wherever, whenever. Nothing gets you energized like one of these. Women know all about the energy in embracing spontaneous dance parties. – Katy
How many times have I been skiing on random days and random places, and there’s a gaggle of ladies wearing costumes and ‘woop’-ing (as in hooting, but also whupping it, too!) the hell out of the mountain. – Kylie
A Love of Exploration and Connection
It is the thing that I love to do most in this world, when I am my truest self. To create that or to experience that in an entirely female way, with compassion, light-heartedness, laughter, without competition, with just ourselves and the mountain, is really quite special. – Margi
It’s about meaningful connection with each other and the mountain we have the great fortune to be playing on that day. – Erin
For me, riding is getting the chance to slow down, take risk, and be authentic with our emotions, all while sharing that journey with others. It’s the way I feel like I fully experience life. – Jenny
She lifts her heel and drops her knee close to the earth and in the snow
her hair whips in the wind she makes as she slides
Over mountains and men and glaciers with grace
Backside backcountry back to her roots the land beckons her return.