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Tundra Tales

Women in the Wilderness

From Outside Magazine’s latest cover to REI’s new #ForceOfNature marketing campaign, it is clear that outdoor women are having a “moment”.

And goodness was it about time. As a woman, who makes her living and spends her time in the outdoors, the issue has always seemed to me to be with the marketing and representation of women, not necessarily the reality.

Joan Strobel crosses Grizzly Creek. Photo: Tundra Travels

In 2016, nearly 50% of Alaska Alpine Adventures’ guests were women. And few, if any, despite industry stereotypes, were wives or girlfriends dragged along on a trip by their spouse or partner. Our female guests are often independent travelers on a personal adventure, groups of women traveling as friends or mothers introducing their children to the wilderness. These accomplished women come prepared for adventure, ready to learn about Alaska’s wildest places. On our backpacking trips in particular, because women are typically more petite than men, they often experience a larger pack-to-body-weight ratio, meaning they work harder with every step. But they keep up no problem, often leading the charge up tundra slopes, across talus piles and through river crossing

Longtime guest, Joan Strobel, tops out on Peregrine Pass. Photo:Tundra Travels

Last summer, of our 21 total staff members, 10 were female. When you sign up for an Alaska Alpine Adventures trip, be it backpacking in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or Kayaking and Hiking in Lake Clark National Park, there is a 50/50 chance that your guide will be a woman. You can bet that she will be prepared, patient and competent. She will be full of grit, motivation and compassion. Each of our experienced female guides have been honing their craft in Alaska’s biggest mountains for years. They now share their expertise and experience with our guests in their own unique way.

AAA guides Joan, Brooke and Kasha, having fun on the job! Photo: Brooke Edwards

The question must be asked: could more women be getting outside and exploring the outdoors? Sure. Are a lot of women already out there? Definitely! And nowhere is that more true than in Alaska.

These ladies left the men in camp and headed out for a day hike in the Revelations.
So we are glad that the big retailers and publications are catching on to the existence of an amazing community of badass, wilderness-loving, ladies. And we’re encouraged that with better representation and marketing, even more women will be encouraged to join, and be welcomed into, the tribe.

Because a woman’s place is in the wilderness.

Backpack Push-Ups! Photo: Andrew Peacock of Footloose Fotography

PS – We obviously still totally love all of our males guides, staff and guests.

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