Ladies, sometimes you don’t want to be “just one of the guys” when trying a new outdoor activity. For me, that happened this past winter. I attempted backcountry skiing for the first time, and my first day was with a bunch of hyper-competitive, experienced men. My second trip was with a group of women–mostly first-timers and was led by three supportive female guides. Which trip do you think I found more relaxing, less pressured, and more fun?
Aspen Alpine Guides has been leading mountaineering and hiking expeditions in the Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains for 27 years, but partners Stephen Szoradi and Tim Shortell only recently decided to launch a women’s-specific selection of adventures called “Leave the Boys Behind.” In February, I had the opportunity to join the inaugural “camp”: a three-day backcountry skiing adventure to the 10th Mountain Division huts with 13 women. Most of us were strangers, ranging in age from twenties to forties, at different fitness and experience levels. But our shared love of the outdoors, Scrabble, and red wine made us fast friends. “We created an opportunity for women to pursue something new, something they enjoy, in the company of other women,” says Signa Strom, the “Leave the Boys Behind” Project Coordinator. “This is a safe, nurturing environment where women can express their true selves.”
But don’t expect an easy two-mile nature walk. This series offers serious challenges that appeal to hardcore and casual athletes alike. Among the summer programs are a High-Altitude Hiking Primer, Introduction to Mountaineering, and Hut-to-Hut Treks, all led by experienced, certified female guides. The first two courses consist of three days of individual day trips, which progressively increase in difficulty, and both experiences culminate in a gourmet dinner celebration on the third day. Hotel accommodation is not included in the package cost.
For the Hut-to-Hut Treks, participants spend three days and two nights at one of the many 10th Mountain Division huts, which feature full kitchens, bunks with mattresses, and spectacular views. Plus, you’ll eat and drink like a queen.
Boys: Don’t fret. This summer, Aspen Alpine Guides is partnering with Whole Foods for a fun series of foodie-friendly hikes that are open to everyone. Called Whole Journeys, these trips feature three days of hiking followed by evening visits to Aspen’s local distilleries, creameries, and ranches for a true farm-to-table experience. The first Whole Journey program will begin immediately after Aspen’s famed Food and Wine Classic (June 20-22), so you can keep the good times flowing.