Gone are the days when words like “adven­ture”, “wilder­ness”, and “shred­ding” are pri­mar­i­ly reserved for men. Young girls and women are embrac­ing win­ter sports and the out­doors in record num­bers for a pletho­ra of rea­sons: Fun, com­mu­ni­ty, empow­er­ment, and phys­i­cal fit­ness, just to name a few. She­Jumps, an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to cre­at­ing a space for and com­mu­ni­ty of women in the out­doors, is mak­ing a name for itself in out­door towns and cities across the nation.

We caught up with Shel­ley Brook, the Rock­ies Region­al Coor­di­na­tor of She­Jumps, and talked ski­ing, their vision for women in the out­doors, and more!

The Clymb: Tell us a lit­tle bit about how She­Jumps came into being.

Shel­ley Brook: She­Jumps was co-found­ed by Claire Small­wood, Vanes­sa Pierce, and Lynsey Dyer in Jack­son Hole, WY. They real­ized they were ski­ing with the guys a lot and want­ed to build a com­mu­ni­ty of strong females to adven­ture out­doors with.

The Clymb: Can you detail a few of the excit­ing clin­ics, activ­i­ties, and ser­vices that She­Jumps provides?

Shel­ley Brook: The main types of pro­grams are: Out­door Edu­ca­tion (learn­ing tech­ni­cal skills: such as how to tune your own skis, back­pack­ing 101 clin­ic, Know Before You Go, etc), Com­mu­ni­ty Ini­tia­tives (these tend to be more social, to meet oth­er women to adven­ture with—such as a movie night, hike, speak­er series, etc), Get The Girls Out days (try­ing to get as many women togeth­er to ski/snowboard, bike, or what­ev­er activity—to increase aware­ness about women in the out­doors and She­Jumps pro­grams), and our Wild Skills program—a youth ini­tia­tive to teach the next gen­er­a­tion nav­i­ga­tion, shel­ter build­ing, knots, first aid, and oth­er skills.

Each Spring She­Jumps hosts The Alpine Fin­ish­ing School at the Selkirk Back­coun­try Lodge out­side of Rev­el­stoke, BC, a week-long glac­i­er ski moun­taineer­ing course. I was able to attend in April 2017 and it was one of the more mem­o­rable weeks of my life! The ter­rain, the peo­ple, the skills taught…it is hard to com­pete with that. How­ev­er, local­ly in Col­orado there’s been quite the diverse range of events: from 10-per­son bea­con clin­ics, to 100-per­son movie nights,there’s real­ly some­thing for everyone.

The Clymb: Why do you feel that attract­ing and sup­port­ing more women to the out­door com­mu­ni­ty is important? 

Shel­ley Brook: I think women have a hard time speak­ing up to both ask ques­tions and be lead­ers when guys are around. This isn’t always the case depend­ing on per­son­al­i­ty types, but it def­i­nite­ly makes it hard­er for women who still have a lot to add to the dis­cus­sion, but are not as out­go­ing. When you’re among your peers, you tend to chal­lenge each oth­er more. It might be in the form of some friend­ly jabs, or help­ing to ease irra­tional fears, or just the sup­port­ive “if I can do it, you can!”—but there’s def­i­nite­ly a lev­el of hold­ing each oth­er account­able and push­ing lim­its together.

I have some of the strongest bonds with friends that I have adven­tured with. She­Jumps is a vol­un­teer run orga­ni­za­tion with 10 nation­al direc­tors, 7 region­al direc­tors, 11 region­al coor­di­na­tors, over 40 ambas­sadors, and count­less com­mu­ni­ty part­ners donat­ing hun­dreds of hours to help orga­nize these events and build the SJ com­mu­ni­ty. That is a lot of (wo)man pow­er ded­i­cat­ed to this mis­sion, and there’s always room for more peo­ple to get involved!

The Clymb: Tell us a lit­tle bit about how you con­nect­ed with She­Jumps and how the orga­ni­za­tion has been influ­en­tial in your life?

Shel­ley Brook: I first heard about She­Jumps while in South America—I was on a year-long trek through the Andes with two girl­friends and we kept a blog about our trav­els back in 2011–2012. The Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Claire Small­wood reached out and even­tu­al­ly asked us to give a pre­sen­ta­tion in Col­orado once we were home (Col­orado was home for the three of us). After that, I went to a Get the Girls Out ski day at Vail, kept meet­ing amaz­ing women to plan adven­tures with, and was hooked!

Dur­ing col­lege I was a camp coun­selor at an all girl’s unit of Che­ley Col­orado Camps in Estes Park which is where I sum­mit­ed my first peak and went on my first back­pack. It was amaz­ing to have an all-female com­mu­ni­ty of adven­tur­ous women to be in the back­coun­try with—both the coun­selors and the campers. You’re raw and vul­ner­a­ble and sup­port­ive. You’re ful­ly present and push­ing your own lim­its. I expe­ri­enced this as well in South Amer­i­ca on the trail with my two friends, and it’s almost hard to put into words. I think the female out­door com­mu­ni­ty is incred­i­bly valu­able and I am pas­sion­ate about stok­ing that fire in oth­er women.

The Clymb: Favorite place to ski? Favorite out­door activ­i­ty? Favorite bev­er­age after a big pow day? 

Shel­ley Brook: After col­lege I moved to Breck­en­ridge for about 6 years and so I still con­sid­er it my home resort, and I real­ly love it! How­ev­er I have been adven­tur­ing in the back­coun­try more and more these days and I love explor­ing new ter­rain. Through pass­es like the Moun­tain Col­lec­tive pass I have been for­tu­nate enough to try out sev­er­al new resorts across North Amer­i­ca in the last cou­ple years, which I high­ly rec­om­mend! It real­ly makes you appre­ci­ate the vari­ety we have: Whistler’s mas­sive and play­ful bowls, the glad­ed old growth tree runs, and small town resort at Red Moun­tain, to side coun­try in Jack­son, or the aspens at Beaver Creek. I love it all!

My favorite out­door activ­i­ty is def­i­nite­ly back­coun­try skiing—I love the exer­cise and the uphill, enjoy­ing the scenery and remote areas, peace and qui­et of the back­coun­try, and then you get to com­bine that with ski­ing! I also recent­ly got bit by the moun­tain bik­ing bug and am quick­ly become obsessed!

Favorite bev­er­age after a long day in the back­coun­try is a good Col­orado craft beer, usu­al­ly an IPA, and some tacos!

The Clymb: Please, tell our read­ers one rea­son they should con­nect with SheJumps.

Shel­ley Brook: She­Jumps is a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to increas­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of women and girls in out­doors activ­i­ties (which many orga­ni­za­tions sup­port through oth­er pro­grams as well), but what sets SJ apart is the focus on doing so with free and afford­able out­door edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties that will pro­vide women with the skills they need to be self-suf­fi­cient in the backcountry.

The idea is to Jump In (try some­thing new, build com­mu­ni­ty), Jump Up (improve your skills, increase self-suf­fi­cien­cy), and Jump Out (be a sup­port­ive men­tor, pass on knowl­edge to oth­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty). It isn’t a club, there’s no mem­ber­ship, no require­ments, etc. It is a com­mu­ni­ty of rad women that want to con­nect and learn, chase big moun­tain dreams, or just get out­side. And as a vol­un­teer run orga­ni­za­tion, we need more pas­sion­ate peo­ple to help us!

In hon­or of Inter­na­tion­al Wom­en’s Day we’re hon­or­ing one of The Clym­b’s tour oper­a­tors, Crys­tal Robert­son, who with her hus­band Jeff, found­ed Le Grand Adven­ture Tours, an action sports trip provider that offers adven­ture trav­el expe­ri­ences all over the globe.

Over the course of the last decade Crys­tal has har­nessed her love for adven­ture into a full-time job, trav­el­ing from Japan to Croa­t­ia and more, in the pur­suit of adven­ture. Crys­tal grew up a trav­el and out­doors enthu­si­ast, scu­ba div­ing around the Caribbean, snow­board­ing around the West Coast, and raft­ing through­out Cal­i­for­nia. This pas­sion grew as she began explor­ing the world, always in search of  the best moun­tains to snow­board, the high­est cols to ped­al her bike up, and the most beau­ti­ful islands to surf.

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Tell us a bit about your back­ground in the outdoors.
My back­ground in the out­doors start­ed with my father who intro­duced me to the world of scu­ba div­ing. He is an instruc­tor who helped me get cer­ti­fied and helped me train to become a res­cue div­er. I trav­eled the world div­ing with my fam­i­ly in exot­ic des­ti­na­tions such as Cozumel, Hawaii, and the Bahamas. Over the last 17 years, I’ve tak­en strong­ly to snow­board­ing, which has become my favorite activ­i­ty and I’m now on the con­tin­u­ous hunt to ride all around the world. When I met my hus­band Jeff, we start­ed trav­el­ing togeth­er, in con­stant pur­suit of new places to find adven­ture. My pas­sions have also inspired me to take a wide range of cer­ti­fi­ca­tions in the dis­ci­plines of Yoga, SUP, SUP Yoga, Snow Safe­ty, First Aid and CPR, which I get to share with guests on our tours.

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What com­pelled you to start a guid­ing com­pa­ny with your husband?
Start­ing an adven­ture com­pa­ny was my dream busi­ness to start. In my ear­ly twen­ties I began research­ing the indus­try and vol­un­teered at an action sports trav­el com­pa­ny super­vis­ing trips. When I met my hus­band we had a dis­cus­sion about our first dream job to pur­sue. He said, “start an adven­ture tour com­pa­ny.” In that con­ver­sa­tion we laughed and could­n’t believe we both had the same dream. It was­n’t until years lat­er that we final­ly had a seri­ous talk and decid­ed to give it a go. You tru­ly don’t know the out­come of any­thing until you try. So we did, and we are hav­ing a blast every step of the way.

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What has been your expe­ri­ence as a woman in the out­door industry?
I love it! This is an indus­try flood­ed with men and it is empow­er­ing to know you are push­ing bound­aries and open­ing the doors for more and more women to fuel their own adven­ture. When you meet oth­er out­door women that are real­ly push­ing their boundaries–you feel as if you’ve found new best friends. We all share a sim­i­lar trait that ulti­mate­ly unites us. It’s a won­der­ful time to be involved in the outdoors…even if I’m the only girl out with a group of guys, I’m still stoked! So come on ladies, let’s get out there!

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What is Le Grand Wom­en’s Adven­tures and how is it dif­fer­ent from Le Grand Adventures?
When we start­ed Le Grand Wom­en’s we real­ly want­ed to pro­vide women a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore new places. On our wom­en’s trips you can prac­tice new skills with pro­fes­sion­al guides/coaches and cre­ate bonds with oth­er like-mind­ed indi­vid­u­als that expand to friend­ships of a life­time. When you’re sur­round­ed by a tribe of sup­port­ive women that are crav­ing and seek­ing as much adven­ture as you are…you can feel the empow­er­ment from women that love to play hard and have fun. We feel that adven­ture trav­el should be offered to women in a man­ner that they see fit, after all every­one moves at a dif­fer­ent pace. It’s all about women set­ting the tone for the trip that they want to have, for in the end, this is your adven­ture to recharge, pow­er up, and feel stronger than ever. 

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What kind of advice do you have for women, or any­one, look­ing to get into an out­door sport they might not oth­er­wise try?
Any step in the direc­tion towards your dream is one step clos­er than you were yes­ter­day. Thoughts turn into con­ver­sa­tion, con­ver­sa­tion turns into actions, con­tin­u­ous actions cre­ates refine­ment.

I always sug­gest going out and find­ing a guide and/or an intro course to the sport that you want to try. I can’t even begin to tell you how impor­tant it is to learn the basics from an expert as those skills will stick with you for the rest of your life. Learn­ing how to do it prop­er­ly and safe is the most impor­tant aspect for suc­cess and fun. 

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Are there any orga­ni­za­tions out there that you see help­ing women get involved in the outdoors?
My favorite orga­ni­za­tions out there right now are She­Jumps–whose sole mis­sion is to increase the par­tic­i­pa­tion of women and girls in out­door activ­i­ties. SAFE AS Clin­ics are tai­lored to women, with begin­ner to expe­ri­enced avalanche aware­ness and safe­ty clin­ics. Then us! We offer so many sports for women to try and many des­ti­na­tions to explore!

You’ve obvi­ous­ly trav­elled all over the globe, is there any­where you haven’t been that you’re dying to see?
While there are many places I have yet to trav­el to, the one I’m most excit­ed for is a South Amer­i­can tour. Par­tic­u­lar­ly, because my moth­er and fam­i­ly are from Peru. I have always dreamed of trav­el­ing to the coun­try I was “almost born and raised in!” I now real­ize what a mec­ca Peru is for surf­ing and moun­tain bik­ing and I can hard­ly wait, it is going to be very special.


Check out Le Grand’s Swiss Moun­tain Bik­ing Adven­ture on The Clymb

This video by Atom­ic Ski­ing pro­motes #sheskis, a move­ment ded­i­cat­ed to encour­ag­ing skiers around the world to form a com­mu­ni­ty and sup­port each oth­er by con­nect­ing through the sport we all love. The video fea­tures a hand­ful of Atom­ic skiers and oth­ers, and also fea­tures one of Atom­ic’s own, Mikaela Shiffrin. Mikaela has been break­ing world records since she was just a teenag­er, when she became the youngest Olympic slalom gold medal­ist at the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Olympics.

She also just recent­ly became the first woman to win the slalom at three con­sec­u­tive FIS Alpine World Ski Cham­pi­onships, and she did so with the largest mar­gin of vic­to­ry in 47 years — a stun­ning 1.64 sec­onds. She also became the first U.S. woman to win two medals at a world cham­pi­onships since Lind­sey Vonn in 2009.

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To shop Atom­ic Ski­ing, check here at The Clymb

Courtesy of California Women's Watersport Collective“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Melis­sa DeMarie wasn’t the first kick­ass lady who said these words—I believe that was Eleanor Roo­sevelt. But as she stood in front of a bus full of 50 white­wa­ter women who had just charged down a stretch of Class III rapids, I knew that I wasn’t the only one who felt the words resonate.

All over the coun­try women are mobi­liz­ing into out­door adven­ture orga­ni­za­tions that cater specif­i­cal­ly to females, cre­at­ing a safe and fun space for them to learn from one anoth­er and test their lim­its. Last sum­mer, Melis­sa orga­nized and insti­gat­ed a women’s only water­sport coali­tion to get more girls out on the riv­er and con­nect­ing with each oth­er.  The group is called Cal­i­for­nia Women’s Water­sport Col­lec­tive, or Cali Col­lec­tive for short. Sev­er­al small­er events through­out the sum­mer cul­mi­nat­ed in the 2 day mul­ti-lev­el clin­ic, which was host­ed with the sup­port of She­Jumps on August 1 and 2.

Stu­dents ranged from expe­ri­enced boaters to girls who had nev­er even sat in a white­wa­ter kayak before. On the first day, we met at the Cal­i­for­nia Canoe and Kayak out­post in Colo­ma, Cal­i­for­nia, on the banks of the South Fork of the Amer­i­can Riv­er. We gath­ered our gear and split up into our class­es for the day. The 101 group was made up of the begin­ners who prac­ticed basics on flat­wa­ter, the 201 girls refined core tech­niques and skills on class II rapids, and the 301 crew took on the more chal­leng­ing III+ Chili Bar section.

Cali-Collective-4As I round­ed up my bor­rowed gear and cir­cled up with the rest of the 201 ladies, I noticed that the instruc­tors were just as stoked as the stu­dents. Every­one I met was just so hap­py to be there, to meet women who shared the same pas­sions for adven­ture and action regard­less of skill lev­el. There were about 1–2 teach­ers for every 4–5 stu­dents, mak­ing it a super safe envi­ron­ment to chal­lenge our­selves and try new things.

That evening, all skill lev­els recon­vened and set up camp along the riv­er, stretched out our bod­ies with a relax­ing yoga ses­sion, and gath­ered for a safe­ty talk and some good ol’ lady bonding.

The next morn­ing start­ed off with anoth­er split of skill lev­els. The more advanced group took a crash course in slalom rac­ing while the rest of us worked on our rolls.

For those of you who haven’t had the plea­sure of being upside down in a kayak, with your knees and hips wedged in the boat and water rush­ing up your nose, let me just assure that it’s as chal­leng­ing to prac­tice as it sounds. Know­ing how to roll your­self up when you flip, how­ev­er, is an impor­tant part of pro­gress­ing as a kayaker.

After strug­gling with my roll all morn­ing, I was still deter­mined to boat the Class III sec­tion of the South Fork in a hard shell. The oth­er option would be to hop in an inflat­able kayak, which you don’t need a roll to pad­dle down the riv­er. I.K.s don’t allow you near­ly the same amount of con­trol as a hard shell kayak that cov­ers your legs, how­ev­er, and I want­ed to be able to prac­tice the skills that I had worked on the day before. Also, I felt like I had some­thing to prove. Not to any of the women out there that week­end, but to myself.

Melis­sa, who had been help­ing me work on my roll, seemed sur­prised when I told her my plan to boat the Gorge, the class III sec­tion that all skill lev­els were doing togeth­er that day in a vari­ety of water crafts. She and my instruc­tor for the week­end, the incred­i­ble Sara James, only gave me pos­i­tive encour­age­ment, how­ev­er. The next thing I knew, I was fol­low­ing Sara’s expert moves that set me up per­fect­ly through rapids with names like Bounc­ing Rock, Satan’s Cesspool, and Hos­pi­tal Bar.

Cali-Collective-2I was push­ing my com­fort zone, but I don’t think I have ever been more com­fort­able in my own skin.

“Our main objec­tive is to build com­mu­ni­ty, which is some­thing that I real­ly feel we have lost in our cul­ture and soci­ety,” explains Melis­sa. She and co-founder Tra­cy Tate have cre­at­ed a wel­com­ing and sup­port­ive envi­ron­ment that mir­rors trends in women’s out­door sports nationwide.

“I believe there is such strong inter­est in what we’re doing from women, not only in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia but across the coun­try, because what we are offer­ing extends beyond pad­dle sports,” she adds.  “I feel women are attract­ed to the idea of being a part of a group where they feel sup­port­ed and accept­ed. We have adopt­ed a holis­tic approach by incor­po­rat­ing things such as yoga, Pilates and nutri­tion into our clin­ics which is appeal­ing as well.”

Cali Collective’s 2 day event was a huge suc­cess, but the orga­ni­za­tion doesn’t plan on stop­ping with that. 2016 events include mul­ti-day trips in Ore­gon and Ida­ho, surf kayak­ing clin­ics on the Cal­i­for­nia Coast, and a 10 day white­wa­ter trip in Chile—all women only.

“Being a new orga­ni­za­tion, we have the whole world ahead of us and the pos­si­bil­i­ties of what we can build and cre­ate is lim­it­less,” Melis­sa con­tin­ues. “I think the thing that I’m most excit­ed about is that it’s already working—meaning women are con­nect­ing with oth­er like-mind­ed indi­vid­u­als, mak­ing new friends and learn­ing in a non-com­pet­i­tive and friend­ly environment.”

As female ath­letes in high adren­a­line sports, most of us are famil­iar with over­com­ing our fears in one way or anoth­er. It’s a great time to be a woman involved in out­door adven­ture. Orga­ni­za­tions like Cali Col­lec­tive are pop­ping up left and right, cre­at­ing a unique cul­ture of women who under­stand that fear can be a beau­ti­ful thing. With­out fear and self-doubt, I wouldn’t real­ize my own awe­some and empow­er­ing abil­i­ty to over­come them.

cali-collective-3About CWWC
The goal of Cal­i­for­nia Wom­en’s Water­sport Col­lec­tive is to help fos­ter a com­mu­ni­ty of women by using pad­dle­sports as the medi­um. They pro­vide clin­ics and trips in white­wa­ter, lake and sea kayak­ing, standup pad­dle­board (SUP) and surf­ing, as well as com­mu­ni­ty events such as yoga and nutri­tion. The founders, Melis­sa DeMarie and Tra­cy Tate, are both pro­fes­sion­al guides and instruc­tors and have a com­bined 30+ years of expe­ri­ence in the out­door indus­try and have trav­elled and worked around the world in such loca­tions as New Zealand, Africa, Nepal, Cos­ta Rica, Colum­bia, Chile and Nor­way. They offer many col­lab­o­ra­tive events with com­pa­nies through­out Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon, Ida­ho and Chile, which extends their reach con­sid­er­ably. Begin­ning in Feb­ru­ary 2016 they launched their “Col­lec­tive Out­reach Pro­gram” aimed to bring demo­graph­ics of women to the out­doors who do not nec­es­sar­i­ly have access, be it due to phys­i­cal or finan­cial lim­i­ta­tions. Their first Out­reach project is with Images of Hope in El Dora­do Coun­ty, which is a non-prof­it ded­i­cat­ed to pro­vid­ing alter­na­tive ther­a­pies to can­cer patients such as art, music and move­ment. CWWC is also involved with var­i­ous kayak and surf fes­ti­vals through­out the Northwest.

All Pho­tos Cour­tesy of Cal­i­for­nia Wom­en’s Water­sport Col­lec­tive and Melis­sa DeMarie

While every­one can ben­e­fit from own­ing the items and skills on this list, this one was put togeth­er with the ladies in mind. Many of us out­door women were intro­duced to our more rugged pur­suits by the men in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we need to be depen­dent on them. It’s easy to let a guy take charge and be respon­si­ble for the items below, but it’s so much more reward­ing to have our own gear and know how to han­dle it ourselves.

There are women and girls who cer­tain­ly break this mold, but many of us grew up in a cul­ture that con­di­tioned us to defer to the exper­tise of a man­ly man when it comes to any­thing sports relat­ed. Here’s a list of sev­er­al must-haves for a seri­ous out­door­swoman inter­est­ed in gain­ing more trust and lead­er­ship expe­ri­ence. If you want to feel capa­ble, con­fi­dent and inde­pen­dent in the out­doors, stop bum­ming the gear and skills from the guys and get your own. 

Pock­et Knife
Whether we are spread­ing peanut but­ter or prepar­ing ban­dages for a lit­tle back­coun­try first aid, we def­i­nite­ly need our own pock­et knife. It’s com­mon to slide under the radar with this one for a long time because it’s an easy item to bor­row from a fel­low camper. Hav­ing a trusty knife, how­ev­er, sends a mes­sage to every­one else in your group that you are self-suf­fi­cient and wor­thy of their respect. This small item is a sig­nif­i­cant one in build­ing the self-con­fi­dence of an expert woodswoman. 

Tent
All out­doorsy ladies should have the full camp­ing set up, from sleep­ing pad to head­lamp, but even though I had all that for years, it wasn’t until I bought my own tent that I felt tru­ly inde­pen­dent on camp­ing trips. Being depen­dent on the rest of your par­ty, whether it’s one per­son or a whole group, to bring a reli­able tent with enough room for you to squeeze into can be risky. A mem­o­rable back­pack­ing trip I went on a few years back involved the split­ting up of the group gear only to real­ize when we went to set up camp that the tent poles had nev­er made it into a pack. The expe­ri­ence left me deter­mined to be more proac­tive in mak­ing sure I am ful­ly pre­pared for an enjoy­able expe­ri­ence and taught me to not blind­ly trust mem­bers of my group to have what I need.

Snacks
This may seem pret­ty basic, but it’s impor­tant! How many of us ladies have set out with an apple and trail mix only to be insane­ly jeal­ous of your hik­ing com­pan­ion’s jerky and PB&J after a long climb? Or how about the same sit­u­a­tion in reverse, when your body craved some healthy treats and all you brought were processed snacks? The point is, know what fuels your body and the amount of food you need to con­sume for any giv­en amount of exercise. 

First Aid Kit and Skills
Invest­ing in a small kit is a great idea. An even bet­ter idea is tak­ing a basic First Aid and CPR class. Feel free to take it a step fur­ther even, and get your­self WFA or WFER cer­ti­fied. If you feel pre­pared to han­dle any sit­u­a­tion that might be thrown your way, you will have a huge burst of con­fi­dence on your next out­door adven­ture. Your group will val­ue your exper­tise and be thank­ful to have you around. This step is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ladies who feel out of their ele­ment and ner­vous about being in the outdoors.

Basic Knots
If you don’t know when you would use a granny knot instead of a fig­ure eight fol­low through, I would sug­gest grab­bing a line, doing a quick google search and prac­tic­ing some basic knot tying skills. While expe­ri­ence with knots is more help­ful for cer­tain sports than oth­ers, it nev­er hurts to have that knowl­edge handy. You might want to rig a ham­mock or hoist your food in the air to pro­tect it from crea­tures who might want a nib­ble, and noth­ing makes you feel more capa­ble than whip­ping out a com­pli­cat­ed knot that you can trust to hold. This skill can also be essen­tial in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions that are hope­ful­ly few and far between. There are always oppor­tu­ni­ties to show off and impress the peo­ple around you by being a knot expert. 

Com­pass, GPS and/or A Good Sense of Direction
I’ll admit that aside from the apps I use on my iPhone, the only one of these three that I cur­rent­ly pos­sess is the last. It’s easy to rely on the more expe­ri­enced or nat­ur­al lead­ers in any group to step up and take charge on the trail, but I try to mem­o­rize land­marks, trail junc­tions, names, and any oth­er sig­nif­i­cant details when I’m out­doors. Like the rest of the items on this list, a good sense of direc­tion is some­thing that will facil­i­tate a grow­ing trust in your­self and your own capa­bil­i­ties. Make an effort to be more self-reliant and you will reap the benefits. 

Invest­ing in your own gear allows you to be respon­si­ble for your own expe­ri­ence in the out­doors. It makes you more self-reliant and con­fi­dent, allow­ing you to progress in your cho­sen sport or pas­time far greater than you can in bor­rowed or rent­ed equipment. 

©istockphoto/DOUGBERRY

©istockphoto/DOUGBERRY

There could­n’t be a bet­ter time to be a woman involved in the out­door indus­try.  Whether it’s ath­letes or busi­ness­women, females every­where are push­ing the bound­aries of what is capa­ble left and right. We are mobi­liz­ing wom­en’s out­door orga­ni­za­tions across the coun­try and tak­ing own­er­ship of our own per­for­mance by man­u­fac­tur­ing our own gear and expect­ing high qual­i­ty. We are build­ing each oth­er up and break­ing down bar­ri­ers so that more girls can reap the many rewards of the out­door industry.

A lot of these awe­some women com­ing onto the scene, myself includ­ed, were raised in the 90’s to the tune of girl pow­er, with ladies like Mia Hamm telling Michael Jor­dan, “any­thing you can do I can do bet­ter.” Many of us grew up in a world where the effects of Title IX (the law that pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of sex in schools and fed­er­al­ly fund­ed pro­grams, pro­vid­ing girls with the same oppor­tu­ni­ties in sports as boys) were already in full fledge . This means that most mil­len­ni­als were raised by women who had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be active. We grew up with pro­fes­sion­al female ath­letes as role mod­els. We played sports and went hik­ing with our dads and broth­ers. Life wasn’t always like this for girls, but slow­ly, the norm has shift­ed and women are allowed, even encour­aged, to be active par­tic­i­pants in all things athletic. 

The Guys Get It
Whether or not they real­ize it, they were raised in this time too. All the men I know are impressed by girls who are strong, can rival their pas­sion for adven­ture, and can push men to raise their own stan­dards. My guy friends usu­al­ly real­ize that I learn things dif­fer­ent­ly, but they aren’t sur­prised to see me or anoth­er girl push­ing the boundaries.

There are tons of women’s sports orga­ni­za­tions that con­tin­ue to encour­age more and more females to get out­side and stay active. A lot of women have been intro­duced to extreme sports through the men in their lives, but more and more are get­ting the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from each oth­er. This shift is mak­ing space for more women in the out­door industry.

Mak­ing the Out­doors Inviting
Girls are cre­at­ing sup­port­ive rather than intim­i­dat­ing envi­ron­ments because they know how hard it is for oth­er women to break into some of the more spe­cial­ized sports. Ski­ing or rid­ing, climb­ing, kayaking—all of these sports require not only a lot of expen­sive and spe­cif­ic gear, but the abil­i­ty to man­age and over­come fear, and it’s impor­tant for women to be sup­port­ive towards oth­er women, rather than polarizing.

Here are just a few orga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies that I have direct­ly ben­e­fit­ed from, espe­cial­ly as a woman who some­times strug­gles with putting her­self out there in the world of extreme sports, both phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly. These are clubs, groups, and non­prof­its that get women out­side. Click each link to find the region­al meet up near you.

©istockphoto/AleksandarNakic

Out­door Women’s Alliance
OWA works to pro­mote strength over sex­u­al­i­ty and abil­i­ty over aes­thet­ics. Their goal is to pro­vide an alter­nate mes­sage to the one put forth by main­stream media, which more often than not show­cas­es a pro female ath­lete in a sex­u­al light instead of for her achieve­ments. They focus on female-pow­ered adven­ture in nat­ur­al set­tings such as beach­es, moun­tains, rivers, and woods. Their grass­roots teams also plan and host events, work­shops, and trips to help devel­op lead­er­ship and con­fi­dence through out­door adven­tures and skill build­ing. OWA is work­ing on start­ing a pro­gram for teen girls to pro­mote those same lead­er­ship and con­fi­dence qual­i­ties in the younger gen­er­a­tion by giv­ing them the resources and skills to lead out­ings and trips. They con­nect more than 52,000 women in North Amer­i­ca, the UK, Japan, Aus­tralia, and the Mid­dle East in both online and offline communities.

She­Jumps
Found­ed in Salt Lake City, She­Jumps has been inspir­ing ladies to get out­side and par­tic­i­pate in out­door activ­i­ties since 2007. The year of 2014 saw the debut of “Pret­ty Faces: the Sto­ry of a Ski­er Girl,” a doc­u­men­tary by co-founder Lyn­d­sey Dry­er, which launched the already inspir­ing orga­ni­za­tion to new audi­ences. They reach out to ladies of all back­grounds and ages and work to cre­ate a sense of com­mu­ni­ty with events like “Get the Girls Out!,” as well as through their Youth Ini­tia­tives, Out­door Edu­ca­tion pro­grams and grass­roots recre­ation­al out­ings. Events are designed to be high­ly vis­i­ble and encour­age females to learn to love the out­doors with oth­er like-mind­ed women, set­ting each par­tic­i­pant up to achieve her full potential.

Out­door Indus­tries Women’s Coalition
OIWC is the only orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to work­place equi­ty, diver­si­ty and inclu­sion in the Out­door, Bike and Snow indus­tries. It is an impor­tant orga­ni­za­tion for any female who is not only pur­su­ing a posi­tion in this career path, but also for those of us inter­est­ed in being ade­quate­ly under­stood and rep­re­sent­ed by the peo­ple who make, sell, and mar­ket our gear. The coali­tion facil­i­tates net­work­ing events, men­tor­ships, pro­fes­sion­al advice and much more.

Girls on the Run
This non­prof­it is an after­school pro­gram for girls in grades 3 through 8. The girls meet in small teams of 8–20 kids and learn life skills from their coach­es through inter­ac­tive lessons and run­ning games. The three main com­po­nents the girls talk about are under­stand­ing them­selves, valu­ing rela­tion­ships and team­work, and under­stand­ing how they have the pow­er to shape the world around them. The runs the girls go on help them build life­long fit­ness, con­fi­dence, and inspi­ra­tion. As an adult, you can vol­un­teer to be a coach or par­tic­i­pate as a run­ning bud­dy, which is a small com­mit­ment in terms of hours, but huge­ly influ­en­tial to both you and your young bud­dy. You are paired off with one girl and com­plete a 5k with her at the end of the sea­son, sup­port­ing her as she runs, walks, or skips to fin­ish a major accom­plish­ment in her young life.

Paige Alms has no qualms about play­ing with the boys. In fact, she’s one of the few women in the world who reg­u­lar­ly braves big wave surf­ing. Con­sid­ered a female pio­neer of the sport, Alms is break­ing down bar­ri­ers in the tra­di­tion­al­ly male-dom­i­nat­ed sport.


The Clymb: Big wave rid­ing is still pret­ty much a male-dom­i­nat­ed sport. How does that affect the things you can do or your involve­ment in it?

Paige Alms: Being a woman has and nev­er will affect the things that I or oth­er women can do, in surf­ing or in any oth­er sport. Peo­ple have pre­con­ceived ideas of what is pos­si­ble, man or woman, but all of those opin­ions are con­stant­ly chang­ing. For exam­ple, did I think I’d ever pad­dle into a wave at Jaws and get bar­reled? Not in the begin­ning of the pad­dle move­ment out there. But a few weeks before I did it, I told my pho­tog­ra­ph­er friend Tra­cy Leboe that I was going to do it. She laughed and thought I was jok­ing, but a few weeks lat­er, we were talk­ing “I told you I was going to do it!!” The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less, for men or women.


The Clymb: Is being a woman an advan­tage or dis­ad­van­tage in the sport?

PA: I think it can only be an advan­tage because we are prov­ing to the world that women can do what the men are doing on big waves!


The Clymb: How did you get start­ed in water sports? What’s your sports background?

PA: I always loved the ocean and felt as if I was drawn to it at a young age. My entire child­hood I played soc­cer, base­ball, track, cross coun­try, skate­board­ing, pret­ty much every­thing. I start­ed surf­ing when I was about 10 and every­thing kind of took sec­ond choice after that!

The Clymb: Why the jump to wave rid­ing rather than just stick­ing to “plain” surf­ing? What attract­ed you to it?

PA: I guess you mean “big wave rid­ing.” Well, big wave surf­ing was just a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion for me, I always loved chal­leng­ing myself and push­ing myself to get bet­ter. Noth­ing is more chal­leng­ing and hum­bling than big wave surf­ing. It is the most exhil­a­rat­ing feel­ing I have ever experienced.


The Clymb: What would you con­sid­er your most impres­sive accom­plish­ment in the field so far?

PA: My bar­rel at Peahi in Jan­u­ary; by far my biggest accom­plish­ment of my life.


The Clymb: You were the first ever female surfer to get bar­reled at Jaws. For read­ers who are not famil­iar with this, can you explain exact­ly what that means?

PA: Just to clar­i­fy, I wasn’t the first. My dear friend Keala Ken­nel­ly got bar­reled there a few years pri­or, but it was a very short pock­et ride, she would even say that. So to explain what that means, basi­cal­ly I pad­dled into a 30 foot wave, got to the bot­tom of the wave, “bot­tom turned” up into the pock­et of the wave, and the lip “threw out” over me. We call it get­ting tubed, as you are rid­ing a tube of mov­ing water. It is the best feel­ing you can have on a wave and that feel­ing is even more accen­tu­at­ed on a huge wave like that. Only a few men in the world have been bar­reled at Jaws, so to be a woman on that list is a great feeling!


The Clymb: What made this chal­lenge so significant?

PA: That it was a first of many more to come!

The Clymb: How do you deal with fear when fac­ing a gigan­tic wave and the unpre­dictabil­i­ty of the ocean?

PA: It is all about accept­ing your fears and learn­ing how to push through that fear calm­ly. Being phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly pre­pared to take on any­thing that moth­er nature throws at you is the most empow­er­ing feel­ing you can ever have. With that being said, I do a lot of train­ing in the gym, breath hold­ing and surf­ing as much as pos­si­ble, as the ocean teach­es you the most valu­able lessons of all. Con­quer­ing your fears, wow, how invigorating!


The Clymb: You have a doc­u­men­tary com­ing out lat­er this year. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What was it like to film it?

PA: Yes, it is called “The Wave I Ride” and it was made by Devyn Bis­son. We pre­miered it here on Maui in June at the Maui Film Fes­ti­val, under the stars in Wailea, with a turnout of more than 2,500 peo­ple. Being a part of this project was a huge learn­ing expe­ri­ence for me and I am so grate­ful to have been a part of it all. The movie should be on iTunes by the end of the year and a sched­ule of the film tour should be up on the site soon.


The Clymb: What else is com­ing up next? Any com­pe­ti­tions planned?

PA: No com­pe­ti­tions at the moment, although I am hop­ing there will be a women’s heat at the Peahi Chal­lenge this win­ter! As far as what’s com­ing next, I am get­ting shoul­der surgery next week for a spot of avas­cu­lar necro­sis I have on my humer­al head, which I got when I dis­lo­cat­ed and frac­tured my shoul­der two years ago. So lots of rehab and train­ing ahead to be ready for winter!

Long, lean, mus­cles on tanned hard bod­ies set against the back­drop of some epic rock. Climbers, by the very nature of their sport, can’t help but exude sex­i­ness since being in peak phys­i­cal con­di­tion is para­mount for those wicked boul­der­ing prob­lems, mul­ti-pitch adven­tures, and send­ing that nev­er-before-climbed badass route. To pay my respects to these climbers for their hard work and chis­eled physiques, I cre­at­ed this list of the Top 8 Hottest Climbers in the Sport. 


Sasha DiGu­ilan
This blonde haired, blue-eyed, doll is the World Rank­ing Leader for Female Out­door Sport Climb­ing and the reign­ing US Nation­al Cham­pi­on. At 20 years old, she seems to just be get­ting start­ed in her sport.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/sashadigiulian

Chris Shar­ma
This climber needs lit­tle, if any, intro­duc­tion. Wide­ly hailed as one of the best rock-climbers to ever tack­le the sport, Chris Shar­ma is spon­sored to do what he loves by the likes of Evolv, Pet­zel, and prAna. Known for being an extreme­ly calm and kind guy, Chris’s love for his sport shines through with every inter­view and, more impor­tant­ly, every climb.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/pages/chris-Sharma/17443589093

Dalia Oje­da
Recent­ly fea­tured in the “Body” issue of ESPN, this Span­ish beau­ti­ful is not mere­ly a pret­ty face. Spon­sored by prAna and Pet­zel, this seri­ous climber uses her sport to teach oth­ers to respect and love nature.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/eravella.camp/

Dave Gra­ham
A res­i­dent of climb­ing mec­ca, Boul­der, Col­orado, Dave is not only a kick­ass climber but an activist for the sport, tak­ing a strong stance on grade-infla­tion and speak­ing out against chipping.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/pages/Dave-Graham/291720792125

Daniel Woods
This boul­der­ing badass put up Rocky Moun­tain National’s Jade before he reached the age of 18 and is cur­rent­ly the reign­ing SCS Nation­al Champion.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/dawoods89

Stephanie Forte
This love­ly lady hap­pens to be in her 40s and proves that hot­ness has no age lim­it. She eats 5. 13s for break­fast and has writ­ten for Climb­ing Magazine.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/stephnforte/

Tom­my Cald­well
In his reper­toire of impres­sive climb­ing firsts, Cald­well threw up first ascents of Colorado’s Kryp­tonite and Lex Luthor. This hand­some, nerves-of-steel, climber lives life on the edge and climbs with the likes of Alex Honnold.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/pages/Tommy-Caldwell/180070212030430

Steph Davis
This base-jump­ing beau­ty is the first woman to free climb the Salathe’s Wall of El Cap and has free soloed Longs Peak’s for­mi­da­ble rock­face, The Dia­mond. Her hard body isn’t the only thing that makes her hot, how­ev­er; she’s also an avid blog­ger and writer, prov­ing that brains are sexy too.

Pho­to Source: facebook.com/stephdavisclimb