Mindfulness and Inclusivity in the Mountains
Have you had the experience of following a well-set skin track in the backcountry? One that someone else broke in, that leads to your drop in point where there are beautiful curvy tracks already leading the way down? I love it when this happens because it eases some of the sweat & effort to climb – and there is a feeling of reassurance that it’s going to be okay because you can see that someone has been there before. It makes me feel inspired, safer, and gives me the reassurance that I can do it too.
When I think about women in snowsports that’s the feeling I get. I feel gratitude for generations of women before us, who had little representation of their identities in the mountains and broke down barriers and made tracks anyway. Seeing other women doing the things that I wanted to do helped remove some of the invisible barriers for me, I wonder how my experiences in the outdoors would be different if I hadn’t been able to see others who shared my identities represented in these outdoor recreation sports. I hope that all people get to experience these feelings in some way shape or form – of belonging, of being represented, of fun and play, and risk and reward outside.
We certainly have come a long way for white women, but the industry has a lot of catching up to do especially when it comes to seeing Black, Indiginous, and women of color, trans & non-binary folks, and other marginalized identities on the slopes, in the rivers, and on the ice. Just like that skin track – having models of yourself and your own identities as a form or reassurance that ‘you can do this too’ is so important.
If you’re reading this, I’d like to encourage you to take some small action to help advocate for diversity in snowsports. Familiarize yourself with the barriers people of marginalized identities may face when trying to get outside — some examples: bro-culture, cost of gear, no one in their family has taught them, transportation etc. Look into supporting organizations in your local community that help these people break some of these barriers by providing gear, skills, & community to get outdoors. Some local Alaskan groups we love to support:
Last but not least, consider following some of these women on social media who I learn from every day:
Thanks for reading and if you want to connect I’d love to hear from you! Reach me on Instagram at @sarahmhistand or shoot an email to: [email protected]. Thanks also to Brooke Edwards for the conversation that sparked this blog topic.
Wishing you all a wonderful season outside,
- Sarah Histand – founder of Mind & Mountain, Ski Babes, & Summer Strong. Sarah is a mental health informed adventure fitness trainer whose online training programs help outdoorsy folks build mind & body strength, prevent injuries, & have more fun outside. She believes that the outdoors are for everyone, and that together we can create an outdoor rec culture where that is a reality. Sarah lives on Dena’ina land in Anchorage, Alaska.