No alpine climbing experience? Perfect. Outdoor Research wants to teach you. This summer. In British Columbia’s iconic glacier-capped Bugaboos.
They’ll even throw in tuition for a 5-day camp, up to $1000 in airfare, an Outdoor Research Alpine Kit, and some extra goodies from Scarpa and Osprey. All you have to do is dazzle them with your essay (or epic poem or harrowing adventure tale – the application isn’t picky).
Why all the love? It’s the latest installment in Outdoor Research’s ongoing campaign to celebrate women in the outdoors.
In June of 2015, Outdoor Research launched a hashtag announcing what many of us know to be a given: #SheAdventures. In response, thousands of women adopted it as an empowering statement of purpose in tweets and Instagram captions. The hashtag picked up momentum fast, ticking upwards of 12,000 #SheAdventures posts in its inaugural month.
When Outdoor Research saw their experiment swelling into a veritable social media movement, they ran with it, launching a month of blog content written by women, for women. For months after, regular Instagram photo contests awarded free gear to she who posted the gnarliest suffer selfie or grooviest backcountry dance move.
Now, OR has ramped their campaign up one step further, with a scholarship to a five-day Guided Women’s Alpine Climbing Camp taught by Sarah Hueniken, the first North American woman to climb both M11 and M12. (For the uninitiated, that means a level 12 “mixed” climbing route, or one composed of both rock and ice. A little perspective: the hardest mixed route known to be climbable is M14).
“[The scholarship] is our way of putting our money where our mouth is and really supporting women getting out and pushing themselves,” said Erika Canfield, the director of marketing at Outdoor Research. She said women currently comprise only 30 percent of the outdoor industry, and it’s time to be a little more inclusive, especially in sports like ice and alpine climbing, which have a reputation for being highly technical and inaccessible.
“People can progress through rock climbing and learning the rope work, but the transition to the alpine is when people tend to slow down,” Hueniken said. It’s a complicated sport, requiring technical rope skills, both rock and ice climbing techniques and a good handle on reading weather and snow conditions. It takes a while to feel comfortable enough to take the lead in the alpine. But, Hueniken said, that shouldn’t stop anyone.
“I know a lot of women want to be out front or want to take leadership and ownership but just need a little bit of space or a little bit of a push to make that happen.”
And who better to give that gentle nudge than one of the world’s greatest alpine climbers? The application is open until April 30. Go get ‘em.
Corey Buhay is a Boulder-based freelancer, whose most recent work includes SNEWS’s Women in the Outdoors project, a series of profiles of prominent female figures in the outdoor industry. She’s also contributed to Alpinist and Backpacker.