The early years of the outdoor industries were characterised by the complete absence of apparel, footwear and equipment designed specifically for women. The path to gender equality outdoors has been a rocky one with several false dawns of inclusivity. As we move further into the 21st century, momentum is accelerating.
MONTANE, the British outdoor clothing specialist has COMPREHENSIVE RANGES FOR WOMEN, and agreed headline sponsorship of THE ALPINE CLUB’s ‘Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers’ event last month in a move to make climbing and expeditions more accessible to women.
The event, a first of its kind, took place last at the National Outdoor Centre in Plas y Brenin in Wales, and aimed to give women a space in which to discuss what going on an expedition means to them, in addition to answering any questions of women climbers who want to take part in expeditions.
The weekend provided skills and knowledge on a range of subjects, including nutrition, menstrual cycles on expeditions, expedition first aid, safety in the mountains, and the psychological aspects of expeditioning, as well as aiding with any mental and physical preparation needed for a successful expedition and providing advice on how to secure a grant to help fund an expedition.
Vice President of The Alpine club, Adele Long, commented, “Climbing should be driven by a love of the outdoors and the mountains. We cannot ignore the fact that the pyramidal numbers are inversely proportional to financial cost and personal commitment, and this is undoubtably a barrier for many people, especially women.
“The weekend provided an action-packed event, which covered almost everything needed to know for embarking upon an expedition and ended with some hugely inspiring talks from our speakers. The women in attendance have been provided with valuable knowledge and leave with the understanding that it takes a lot of hard work, but it can certainly be done.”
Speakers included Montane multi-activity athlete and adventurer Katy Parrott, experienced expedition skier Iona Pawson, expedition veteran Susan Jensen, four-time Piolet d’Or winner Paul Ramsden, climber and international speaker Fay Manners and Guinness Book of Records holder Masha Gordon.
Parrott said, “It was an honour to share my thoughts and experiences on the ‘Adventure Mindset’, through stories of endurance, setbacks, and resilience. Speaking to a room of such inspirational women was a humbling experience and I can’t wait to follow their new goals and adventures in the coming months and years. I left the event with an uplifted spring in my step!”
Montane’s Global Marketing Manager, Matthew Hickman, added, “We strongly advocate that the outdoors is for everyone, and events such as this are absolutely key in providing crucial knowledge, resources, and pathways for aspiring adventurers, as unfortunately there can be many barriers for individuals, especially women, in undergoing their own expeditions and breaking new boundaries.
“The ‘Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers’ event is a perfect alignment between The Alpine Club, a prestigious organisation with a rich history of empowering and facilitating female adventurers, and Montane, as we continue to enable and encourage people to find their unknown in the outdoors.”
Women now participate at all levels within The Alpine Club and are recognised for their contribution to mountaineering, which was reflected in 2021 when The Alpine Club hosted the ‘Women’s Rise Up’ event, which brought together women from six countries to climb together to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first ascents by fabled British mountaineer, Lucy Walker.
The Alpine Club was founded in 1857 by William Mathews, initially focussing on the European Alps, and provided the inspiration for the formation of a number of other climbing clubs throughout Italy, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Germany, as well as Canada, America, and the UK.
The Alpine Club will be providing a post-event resources webpage on its website for delegates and individuals who wish to find further information.
The Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund (MACC Fund)
The MACC FUND offers cash grants of up to a total of £10,000 every year for British climbers and mountaineers who wish to explore the world’s mountain regions. MACC expeditions are usually long and technical, requiring exceptional levels of expertise and endurance in remote and inhospitable environments. Often, these will involve attempting first ascents and/or new routes or exploring little-known Alpine terrain.
The fund has supported a range of applicants over the years, from established teams of experienced alpinists attempting high-profile routes off the beaten track, as well as less well-established teams looking to launch their expedition careers. Usually split between eight recipients, the awards are offered bi-annually in March and November. Eligible expeditions must include at least one member of the Alpine Club; the number of Alpine Club members will influence the size of the grant offered.