Scenes from the S.A.F.E.A.S. womens avy clinic.
There are a lot of badass women in this part of the world. I’m talking professional skiers & riders, the types that win the Freeskiing World Tour, guide in Alaska, and that you see onscreen when you watch the latest TGR/Warren Miller/etc. production. There are also a ton of badass women here who aren’t pros, but simply ski, ride, jump off things and go big in the park because they love it.
This past weekend I had a chance to meet a ton of these badass chicks at two separate events. And I left both feeling inspired. Inspired to push myself, to learn more, and most importantly, to have fun, whether on my own or with a posse of friends.
On Saturday, my friend Meghan and I drove up to Squaw Valley for the S.A.F.E.A.S. Women’s Avalanche Clinic. It was a fundraiser for local non-profit, the High Fives Foundation, and was organized by professional skiers Elyse Saugstad and her friends Ingrid Backstrom, Michelle Parker, Jackie Paaso, Sherry McConkey and Squaw avalanche forecaster and ski guide Lel Tone. This one day event was designed to provide women with basic avalanche awareness training. It included a morning in the classroom, with lectures on snow safety, communication and proper travel techniques, and an afternoon on-snow practicing what we’d learned.
I’ve taken avalanche awareness courses in the past, but this felt different – in a very good way. Lel, Elyse and the other women made the concepts accessible, kept the pace moving, and were so supportive of all the women there, regardless of backcountry experience – or the clumsiness of their (read: my) shoveling skills. While this was an overview course, Lel provided us with lots of additional resources for further follow up, and certainly inspired me to belatedly sign up for my AIAIRE Level 1 certification. I can say without hesitation that it’s a course I would sign up for again in a heartbeat.
After an inspiring day with badass women, it was fortuitous that Meghan, who is involved with SheJumps, an organization whose mission is to encourage women to get outside, had planned the first ‘Get the Girls Out’ meet up the next day, at both Kirkwood and Squaw Valley. I hit up the Kirkwood event and ended up skiing around with a group of women that kept growing. I’ll let Meghan tell the story (and share her fun photos), but I’ll say this much – I love to ski, and I love to ski with my boyfriend, but skiing with a group of women is entirely different in a very good way. And it’s a standing date I’m already looking forward to next month. All women are welcome, so if you’re interested, the next one will be on January 13th. You can find out more on Facebook.
I may never be truly badass (snarky seems to come a whole lot easier to me), but hanging out with such women sure encourages me to give it a go.