Ladies Dont Let the Boys Have All The Fun!
April 17, 2018
I’ve been lucky enough to work in heliskiing in New Zealand for some years now and maybe it’s my view from the inside that’s blinded me to how the activity can be perceived. Recently a female friend told me she’d never be able to heliski. As we discussed why, I realised her opinion had been formed by the way that heli skiing has been portrayed in the media, where it often comes across as a heady brew of jet-fuel and testosterone driven machismo.
My own experience has been very different, yet my friend, a competent skier, was held back by the belief that she’d be feel the weight of peer pressure from her group and that she wouldn’t be able to keep up or be good enough. It seemed a shame for someone so confident and capable to be wracked with unnecessary self-doubt when I knew that it in reality, my friend was eminently capable and began to wonder how many other women might write-off the idea of heliskiing based on similar misconceptions.
So let’s set the record straight:
You can go heliskiing. If you can ski or snowboard confidently on a blue run, our guides and pilots can take you to the kind of terrain you’ve always dreamed of riding. Whether that’s wide open bowls filled with blower pow, or something else altogether. Let’s do this sister.
It’s not just a dude-fest. In fact, Southern Lakes Heliski is lucky to have a number of female guides who are at the very top of their game. Lydia Bradey who was the first woman in the world to climb Mt Everest without oxygen and Paula Roberts who lives and breathes the mountains and also trains explorers in survival techniques in Antarctica. They are acclaimed members of the team here, highly skilled, inspirational and living proof that heliskiing is for everyone.
You deserve this. Book yourself a trip now – the offer below might give you the extra nudge you need.
How did Lydia and Paula decide working in the mountains was their chosen path? They both grew up in the South Island where they were surrounded by adventure activities and encouraged to take part. All they both needed was to find that love of the mountains and for Lydia it was big wall climbing at the age of 19. Her advice to others is to follow what you love, get as much experience as you can and then accompany that with qualifications. Since then she trained as a Physiotherapist and has climbed multiple peaks including summiting Mt Everest without oxygen.
Paula found her love by working at Mt Hutt as a Ski Patroller and then advanced to being a qualified Mountain guide. She has always worked in male-dominated industries but never felt any pressure other than to do what she loved. That approach has allowed her to travel all over the world, spending her winters as a heliski guide and her summers down in Antarctica working in safety management and training
When speaking to other females about perception that heli skiing as a male dominated activity she told me “Guiding is about wanting to be with people and about sharing your passion. While physical strength plays a role in guiding, a much bigger percentage of time is used up by decision making and the ability to connect with clients. An expertise in this area transcends physical stature or gender”
Lydia has found a lot of inspiration in social media as a tool to bring more women into the industry and also to encourage them to take part in activities such as heli-skiing. Through photos and adventures, women have realised that many of those “outside the comfort zone” activities are completely accessible with the right training and mentorship.
Both these women believe the bottom line is safety and enjoyment. For them, it doesn’t matter if you are the fittest or best skier on the mountain. What matters is that you give it a go and you never know you may surprise yourself!
Check out the video that our Austrian friends The Radheidis made when they flew with us last winter.