Chic Choc Chicks and Five Reasons To Backcountry Ski With Women

Yesterday, Ski The East released “Chic Choc Chicks,” a short video that follows my friend Paige Fitzgerald and me on a backcountry trip to Québec’s Chic Choc Mountains. The snow was incredible, the mountains were beautiful and big, and the vistas over the Saint Lawrence Seaway were spectacular. What I remember most from trips with Paige, however, is how much fun it is to travel in the backcountry with other women.

Reminiscing on this point inspired me to make a list of a few of the reasons why traveling in the backcountry with other women can be such a liberating experience. Here are five reasons why:

  1. I can talk about bodily functions more freely

When I gotta go, I gotta go. And in the backcountry, I could care less about propriety, but there are definitely certain times when it is nice to discuss these matters with other women who understand what I am going through. Bathroom breaks become social gatherings, and I don’t have to relocate myself behind some tree just so the dudes in my group can’t see my butt (not that I really do that even with guys around). I also like the light banter that ensues while I pop a squat among a circle of female friends.

  1. There are no stupid questions

A few years ago, I participated in the SheJumps Alpine Finishing School, and at the beginning of the week, we made a rule: There are no stupid questions. This allowed all of the women in the group to feel more open about what they did and didn’t understand about backcountry travel and safety. We asked questions when we wanted to know more about rope work or avalanche safety, and we offered up information if we had an answer someone else was looking for. This open communication can be experience with multi-gendered groups, but I find it is often more natural in all-women groups.

Paige and I getting ready to ski Mount Lyall in the Chic Chocs. | Screen shot courtesy of Matt Kiedaisch

Paige and I getting ready to ski Mount Lyall in the Chic Chocs. | Screen shot courtesy of Matt Kiedaisch

  1. Women bring better snacks

It is a commonly known fact that a woman’s blood sugar fluctuates more while exercising. What this means is that we are ruled by food. To avoid getting “hangry” (hunger induced anger), women tend to bring exciting snacks that are more enticing than your run-of-the-mill energy bar. I, for instance, like to bake a chicken the night before (or go buy one of those roasters from the supermarket—yeah the ones with the MSG smell emanating from them) and bring that along. I also bring the typical brownie/cookie selection. And one of the most important food items almost all women bring is tea. Our body temperatures can be a bit of a roller coaster in cold, wintry environments, and tea has saved my own and my friends’ happiness factors more than once.

  1. It’s OK to talk about how much you like your flashy, new outfit.

Backcountry skier/rider or not, women like talking about clothes. Not all women mind you, but most. My ski partner Paige and I have had many long talks about how much she likes teal while I trend toward flashy, neon colors—they get me excited on dreary days and are good for safety in bad visibility and in the event of an avalanche—at least that is what I tell myself. We debate the pros and cons of bibs (good for snow protection, bad for peeing efficiency) and discuss at length how avalanche airbags really need to come in better colors. We know that safety comes first, but really….

Paige and I sharing a laugh about something poop related I am sure. Screen shot courtesy of Dana Allen

Paige and I sharing a laugh about something poop related I am sure. | Screen shot courtesy of Dana Allen

  1. Falling—assuming you’re not hurt—is a matter of great comedy.

Women love to dramatize crashing for some reason, and I find it wildly entertaining. I will often hang out in my twisted, crumpled position for a bit longer than I need to, just so my other female friends can get the full effect of my mistake. There might be a bit of pain involved, but most often, there is just laughter. I think that seeing others in these moments of pure incoordination brings a group together through the common experience of gracelessness.

I cannot touch on all the reasons why I love skiing with women in the backcountry, but the video with Paige reminded me of the laughs and silliness that we share when we venture out into snowy landscapes together. I am lucky to have such a partner and I hope that as more women come into the backcountry skiing fold, they too can experience the joy of having a backcountry women’s posse.

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