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Women’s Backcountry Weekend 2020: Redefining Decision Making

It was a cold and clear Saturday morning as 26 women gathered at Manitoba Cabins and Yurts for the second annual Women’s Backcountry Ski Weekend. Smoke billowed softly from the warm main cabin as women bustled on skis back and forth from each yurt and the Mile 48 parking lot. A keg from Girdwood Brewing stood proudly outside the cabin, a testament of the weekend to come.

Women’s Backcountry Weekend is a women only ski/splitboard event inspired to promote camaraderie, community and support amongst female skiers and winter sports enthusiasts in South Central Alaska. Why all ladies you ask? In a primarily male dominated industry and sport, Alaska Huts feels that female inclusion is valuable and are proud to offer a space to celebrate women in the backcountry.

Women learning from other women inspires a comfortable learning environment. Intentionally setting aside a weekend to ski or snowboard with all women changes the dynamic of decision making skills that are necessary to safely navigate backcountry winter sports. It’s consistently proven that mixed-gender groups have the most dangerous decision making trends, playing off of six heuristics used in our daily decisions: familiarity, consistency, acceptance, the expert halo, social facilitation and scarcity. Oftentimes in backcountry decisions, the “expert halo” or “acceptance” heuristic are heavily impacted by gender dynamics in a group. By creating an all-female space to recreate and learn in the backcountry, Alaska Huts hopes the weekend helped eliminate some of the intimidation factors that are often associated with the “expert halo” and “acceptance” heuristic. Besides, skiing with all ladies is fun! 

Manitoba Mountain was alive with skiing and splitboarding ladies of all different abilities, backgrounds, and ages on Women’s Backcountry Weekend. All of the Costco lasagna was consumed, the cider was drunk, and the 4 hour (!!) long sauna was had. We left the weekend content: feeling empowered by new friends, full of Black Cup coffee and enthusiasm for winter sports. Nothing is more powerful than women holding other women up.

Thank you to everyone who came out, signed up for the waitlist, and donated to Alaska Huts to make events like this possible. Special shoutout to sponsors: Girdwood Brewing Company, Alaska Ciderworks, Black Cup Coffee, Salmon Sisters, SKIDA, Skinny Raven Sports, SMH Training, Sarah K. Glaser Illustration, and Coalition Snow. 

Stay tuned for next year and similar events, like Women’s Mountain Biking Weekend this summer! 

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