Where Are the Women? Pretty Faces Teaser

Feature photo Top of the world, somewhere in Alaska. Photo by Scott Dickerson.

I have attended the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival each year since 2007, save for one year when I was trekking through Nepal. Being the biggest film fest of its kind in the world, the Banff Festival offers a good barometer on a variety of industries, mainly outdoor gear, adventure film, sponsored athletics and publishing. I know for a fact that despite the considerable presence of women in sports, including skiing, they are poorly represented in most of these industries. Ski and snowboard films may show a ‘token female’, but otherwise women are usually left out of the picture.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. It isn’t an accurate representation, for one. It also leaves young girls without positive female role models in the area of outdoor sports, which promotes healthy body image, good self-esteem, and a ‘can do’ attitude. Instead these girls are left flipping through magazines and observing the lives of celebrities as if their representation in the media is actually true. As the mother of a young daughter, I hope she grows up to be inspired by women in a variety of arenas. She doesn’t need to admire them – that can often lead to comparison and a feeling of inferiority – but I do hope she sees all the possibilities for her future.

Lynsey Dyer has created a ski film about women called Pretty Faces, produced by Unicorn Picnic, with the goal of inspiring “girls of all ages to pursue their dreams, walk the path less traveled, and reach their fullest potential, whatever path they choose” (a quote from their Kickstarter campaign). Their Kickstarter campaign also offers some interesting statistics. Despite women’s presence in about 40% of the skiing population and about 30% of adventure sports film viewership, only 14% of athletes in major ski films were female this past season. Of most interest to me, they also say that many girls drop out of sports around the age of 11-15 years. These young teen years are so vulnerable for girls, and if we can give them positive female role models to look up to, I hope they’ll be inspired to stay active and healthy through sports (whatever those sports may be).

I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the title of the film, Pretty Faces. I get it: it’s a play on words, describing the mountain faces these women are skiing. But take a good look at the teaser of the film and you’ll see a bunch of, well, pretty faces. Does it take good looks to also be successful in your industry or sport? Or to make it into a ski film? Do we need beauty to sell even the concept of women being capable and feeling empowered? Beauty is a powerful, wonderful thing. But I fear we’re walking down the same worn path if it is being used once again to sell an idea and give it legitimacy.

I’m of course pleased to see an all-women ski film on the film circuit, and I’m all for the goal of inspiring young girls. I hope it has the positive impact the producers are looking for. I hope it comes to the Banff Festival so that the crowd here can benefit from seeing more women represented. Finally, I hope the trend continues and that this is just the beginning.

For more information, head on over to Unicorn Picnic.

Check out the trailer here:

Skiing into the Sky

Not much to say today other than the fact that there’s nothing quite like a warm Summer’s day here in the Rockies, but a close second is a warm Winter’s day. Taken yesterday as we skied up the backside of Sulphur. The bobsleigh run down was worth the 4-hour climb with snow sticking to the bottom of our skis.

The old Fire Road on Sulphur Mountain in Banff gets you up high and into the sunshine. Photo: Meghan J. Ward

A Lesson in Endurance (Yoga Challenge: Day 16)

Today I learned another lesson in endurance.

I took a rest day today to go ski touring on one of the most beautiful winter days I have ever seen in The Rockies. It wasn’t much of a rest day for the body, but it felt great to get outside.

Who wouldn't pass up a day like this? Skiing across Peyto Lake towards the Peyto Glacier.

We were touring today to Peyto Hut on the Wapta Icefield, about a 10km trek in with overnight packs (and an elevation gain of over 500m). Lately, avalanche conditions have been rather ugly around here and while we hoped we would find safe passage to the hut, we did not. On top of it all, it was -30 degrees Celsius, and as we deliberated about whether or not we should continue, my body began to shake to fight off the cold. We ended up retreating back the way we came. All in all, we were out in the cold for about six hours.

Now, if there is a “Child’s Pose” of alpine ski touring it looks something like this: while standing, bend over with straight legs and position your poles in front of you so that you can actually rest your pack on the tops of your poles, allowing you to stretch out your back, neck and shoulders. This was my best friend today (it really works!) Needless to say, it was a beautiful but rough day in the outdoors.

Lesson from Day 16

I missed the yoga studio today – the warmth, candles, comfort. But as I stood outside in the cold, a few kilometres from the highway, I was thankful for the lesson in endurance that yoga has taught me through this challenge.

Forcing myself to do that extra sun salutation or hold a posture for an extra breath doesn’t sound like it comes close to a long ski out in the elements.But, the internal journey is truly the same.

Where has your internal journey taken you lately?

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

Guide to Ski Rentals in Banff

So, you want to come to Banff but don’t want to lug your ski gear around.

With all of the other inconveniences we face now at airports, why add another one? Not to worry – you’re well taken care of in this ski town.

Whether you need a full set up or just a tune up, Banff has it’s fair share of ski and snowboard rental shops and custom boot fittings. You’ll be hitting the slopes in no time.

Need to Rent Ski or Snowboard Gear?

Check out one of these options for ski rentals and fittings in Banff:

Banff Ski Hub: Ski Banff -Lake Louise- Sunshine Tri Area Rentals

119 Banff Avenue

The Ski Hub is your one-stop shop for all things ski and snowboard. Here you can buy lift tickets for all three ski hills, rent equipment, sign up for ski lessons, seasons passes and purchase merchandise.

Banff Springs Ski Shop

Conference Centre at the Banff Springs Hotel, 405 Spray Avenue

If you’re staying at the Banff Springs Hotel, this ski shop is located right on site and offers a convenient way to get your ski gear.

Ultimate Ski & Ride

206 Banff Avenue

This shop rents both ski and snowboard gear, offers tune ups and fittings and has high end ski apparel to keep you warm on the slopes.

The Ski Stop and Soul Fit Centre

203A Bear Street

This shop rents gear and is especially known for its customized boot fittings. Be sure to head here if your boots are rubbing or if you’re getting cold toes on the hill.

SNOWTIPS – Bactrax

225 Bear Street

This is one of Banff’s biggest rental stores specializing in ski,  snowboard and mountain bike rentals.

Rude Boys

215 Banff Avenue, 203 Wolf Street

Rude Boys now has two locations, one in Sundance Mall and the other on Wolf Street. They rent snowboards only.

Wilson Mountain Sports

Samson Mall, Lake Louise

This is a great option if you are staying in Lake Louise. Check out Wilson’s for your rental needs, located at Samson Mall in the Lake Louise Village.

Rentals at Local Ski Area

Lake Louise Ski Area

Banff Mt. Norquay

Sunshine Village

A Few Tips

*Many snowboard and ski rental stores turn into bike rental stores in summer, so be sure to inquire about their other options.

*A few ski rental stores also rent out alpine touring gear. If you’ve ever wanted to try the sport, this is a great way to try before you buy. Be sure to head out with an experienced backcountry skier and avalanche safety equipment.

*Even if you bring your own gear, Banff’s rental shops are highly specialized with tunings and boot fittings. It’s worth the time and money to get a good fit even if you’ve brought your own gear to use on the slopes.

*Some rental shops will deliver your ski gear to your hotel – be sure to ask about that.

*Many ski rental locations also rent out cross-country skis and snowshoes if you’re looking to enjoy the snow in a different way.

 

Did I miss one? Just comment and let me know! Thanks for sharing your local insights.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

Top 10 Posts of 2010

Turning the corner on a new year always causes me to look back at the previous one. For this year, I decided to take a look at the stats from this website and take a look at which posts got the most ‘clicks’ in 2010. So, for your reviewing pleasure, here is the Top 10.

1. Destination Review: Casa Zen in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

A short overview of one of my favourite spots on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

2. Publications

A select list of my publications.

3. Banff’s New FEAST

An introduction to Banff’s new artisan grocer.

4. Ski Touring to Lake O’Hara and McArthur Pass

Turns out a lot of my website hits come from people searching for beta about ski touring, hiking and climbing in the Rockies. Here’s one example.

5. Hiking Clearwater Pass and Lake O’Hara

Trip reports from these destinations.

6. Best Spots for Ice Skating in Banff National Park

A little guide to natural outdoor skating rinks in Banff National Park.

7. Alpine Ski Tour: Peyto Hut and Wapta Icefield

A short description of some of my favourite places to visit on skis (or boots in summertime).

8. Education, Experience, and Development

A little bit more about me…

9. Ski Tour at Bow Summit

One of the most popular ski touring destinations in Banff National Park. Great if you’re just starting out.

10. Who is Yahe-Weha?

The answer to my most popular question. With a Twitter name like yaheweha, I’ve always got people wondering.

Enjoy! And here’s to more great posts and visits in 2011.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

 

 

Celebrating Banff’s 125th with Canada AM

It’s 2:30 am and the alarm goes off. Eastern Canada is already waking up and we’ve got to get ready for the morning news. Being two hours behind Ontario, we had to boogie up to the Lake Louise Ski Area by 4 am to get ready to cheer in the 125th birthday of Banff National Park on a live broadcast with Canada AM. Now who would pass up that opportunity?

The crowd gathers outside in freezing temperatures to celebrate Banff National Park’s 125th birthday.

The torches descend the Lake Louise Ski Hill.

Jeff Hutcheson from Canada AM stands with the crowd at the base of the ski hill.

When Jeff Hutcheson arrived we knew we were in the right place. Soon, a crowd of about 50 people gathered outside in -22 degree weather to watch torches descend the ski hill. After the red lights snaked their way down in the pitch black, Jeff interviewed Parks Canada representatives, who spoke to Banff’s history as the first national park in Canada, a park that was established when the country of Canada was still just a baby.

The Lake Louise Ski Area hosted the live broadcast for Canada AM.

Later we moved inside and Jeff interviewed Eddie Hunter, a legendary Banffite who has been skiing locally for over 75 years, and Canadian Olympic downhill skier, Kelly VanderBeek. Turns out the Lake Louise Ski Area has hosted 150 different World Cup Ski events over the years. In fact, this weekend and next they host the Bombardier Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup for both Downhill and Super G events (you can read my report from last year’s events here).

Jeff Hutcheson interviews Eddie Hunter and Kelly VanderBeek.

Executive Chef Felix Pfister from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise came on next to describe the menu he prepares for the World Cup athletes, including 11,000 eggs they go through during the two weeks of the ski racing events. Then he cut a beautifully decorated birthday cake for Banff’s 125th birthday. It was a great way to celebrate such an historic and important milestone in Canada’s Parks System.

Chef Felix Pfister displays the food the World Cup athletes will be eating over the next two weeks.

Birthday cake for Banff’s 125th.

Jeff Hutcheson looks on as Beau the Bear, the mascot for the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, grabs hold of the knife to cut the cake.

Detailing on the cake in celebration of Banff’s 125th birthday.

And that’s a wrap!

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Alpine Ski Tour: Peyto Hut and Wapta Icefield

If you are using this information for your own trip, please read this disclaimer and description of my abilities.

A day on the Wapta Icefield with clear skies never disappoints.

Last winter, I headed up onto the Wapta Icefield via the Bow Hut approach twice, and never saw a thing. Travelling by GPS in a total whiteout kind of took away from the experience of being on a vast expanse of ice. And I’ve hiked up to the Wapta in good weather in the summer many times before (via both the Bow and Peyto glaciers), but had never had the experience of skiing up there in good weather. This past Sunday was my chance.

Approaching the crest of the glacial moraine on the way to Peyto Hut.

To access the Peyto Hut approach in winter, park at a parking lot on the left hand side of the highway just North of the major parking lot for Peyto Lake indicated on Hwy 93. The approach to the hut can be found in Chic Scott’s Summits and Icefields, so I’ll leave you to find a more thorough description there. We chose to get a fairly early start (7 am) with hopes of getting good snow on the glacier with minimal sinking. The forecast was calling for sunny skies and warm temperatures and the avalanche ratings were at ‘Considerable’ across the board. Still, by taking the approach to the right hand side of the canyon coming from Peyto Glacier, we were able to avoid some of the more exposed slopes.

Peyto Hut is located just beyond the ridge descending towards the glacier on the left. Take a straight line up the glacier and a very wide left hand turn to avoid crevasses close to the ridge.

With excellent coverage on the Peyto Glacier and minimal sinking, we reached the Peyto Hut 4.5 hours (and 10 km) after embarking, where we enjoyed a hot pot of tea and a tremendous view looking out on the ocean of ice and peaks. This is one of my favourite places on the planet. Looking out on the Wapta Icefield sipping a cup of tea in a hut is a juxtaposition seldomly found anywhere else. It is in times like these that I am so thankful for The Alpine Club of Canada that maintains these huts and of which I am a proud member.

Approaching Peyto Hut.

After a quick lunch we took off towards the Bow Hut side of the Wapta, reaching the crest of the Wapta where you can see Mounts Rhonnda, Baker, Trapper, Peyto on one side and Saint Nicholas, Portal, Thompson, Crowfoot, and Olive on the other – spectacular.  The sun was intense, but a cool wind provided much needed relief from the heat from time to time. We turned around upon reaching the halfway point to Bow Hut, knowing we had a long journey back to the car. It was a swift ride down the glacier with bomb-proof coverage of the crevasses below and a hard surface to glide on.

Enjoying the long ski back down the glacier.

Both Paul and I were guessing at the time all day after forgetting our watches, so we thought we arrived back at the car around 5:30pm, tired and drained from a day out in the sun and wind. We were surprised, then, when we started the car and found out it was after 8pm. A day of skiing will do that to you. It was more than 13 hours later, and we didn’t mind at all.

Need I say more?

Need I say more?

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.