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

Perfecting Your Craft: Take a Leap (Matt Trappe)

This month, photographer Matt Trappe brings us this guest post as part of a series he’ll be contributing called “Perfecting Your Craft.” You can look forward to his photo tips at the end of each month! – Meghan

Bonsai!  I took this photo on a snowshoe hike in the Sierras this past month with my friend James, a fellow outdoor enthusiast.  We completed the 7-8 mile hike along the ridge between Mt. Judah and Mt. Lincoln near Truckee, California, in about 4-5 hours that day.

Nikon D7000 18mm f3.5 1/640 ISO100

During the hike we approached a high point on the ridge and James gave me a heads up that he was about to leap off a large rock ahead into the powder below.  Here’s where I needed to be creative and quick because the rest happened in a matter of seconds.  Here I go!  First, lighting.  I knew the sun was off to our right so I raced to the right side of the rock so that the sun was on James and not shining into the lens.  Next, composition.  I fell as low to the ground as possible to add more drama to his jump. I grabbed a bit of the rock and snow for perspective/framing at the bottom while planning for James to jump into the upper 2/3 of the photo where the height of his jump would be emphasized.  James sailed off the rock and right into my planned location with one hand holding his poles and the other pointing to the sky.  My autofocus shifted and the shutter clicked right on cue.  The low angle I had taken for the shot allowed his facial expression to be framed perfectly by his outstretched arms (got lucky there!).  The clouds at that moment were very wispy and in this case had been wisped by the atmosphere in just the right way to help the viewer draw their eye towards James in the center.  Perfect!

Afterwards, I am always critical of ways I could have made the shot better.  That’s part of perfecting your craft, right?  I thought, “what if I could have dropped on my back around the backside of that rock to get a snail’s view of James sailing overhead?”  Or, “what about a photo taken from behind that could have shown James appearing to be jumping off of a cliff since the rock blocked the rest of the ridge ahead?”  So many possibilities with so little time to react!

A great photographer can anticipate these moments and quickly determine what he/she sees as the best composition.  It all comes with practice.

——–

This guest post was written by Matt Trappe:

Matt is an emerging photographer specializing in Outdoor Adventure and Travel Photography.  See Matt’s portfolio and blog at www.trappephoto.com.

You can also catch him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/trappephoto) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/MattTrappe).

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.

Ski Touring to Rockbound Lake

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

A popular hike in the summer, the ski up to Rockbound Lake in the winter offers a steady climb up the summer trail with a fabulous (and fast!) descent back down.

The last time I was at Rockbound Lake was in August of 2008. A friend and I passed the lake on our way up and back from the peak of Castle Mountain. On the way up we had beautiful sunshine, but were hit by an electrical hailstorm (welcome to The Rockies!) at the summit. We quickly descended, meeting some inexperienced hikers from Newfoundland on the way, who had very few layers despite the intense rain, wind and hail. Things only got worse from there. Once past the lake there were many trees that had fallen on the trail and the rain was falling even harder. As helicopters passed overhead (for reasons we’ll never know), the few hours of descent felt slightly apocalyptic. Finish that off with a Bear in Area warning we discovered at the trailhead upon exiting and we were laughing by the end.

Rockbound Lake in Summer

Constrast this to the quietness and serenity of winter. This time I skied up with a different friend, and we had the whole area totally to ourselves. A lunch on the lake in the sunshine (with some Bailey’s-spiked coffee, I should add) ended quickly as the sun dropped behind Castle Mountain, bringing the air temperature down with it. The ski back down from Tower Lake was fast and furious. We were fairly lucky at times that there were no other people on the trail since stopping was not really on option.

Rockbound Lake in Winter

This tour is beautiful, but you lose the sunlight mid-afternoon.

To get up to Rockbound Lake, begin by taking the summer trail (8.1 km). To get to the trailhead, turn east on the Bow Valley Parkway at Castle Junction towards Banff. The parking lot for Rockbound Lake comes shortly after turning and can be found on the left hand side.

Work your way up the switchbacks of the summer trail. Once you emerge from the trees, there are a few small avalanche paths to cross, so be careful in these areas. They look like they slide all the way to the trail only once in 50-100 years, but they are still a threat. From Tower Lake, aim directly for the cliffbands and once there veer straight left and up quite a ways until you see an obvious break in the wall (see photo). You may need to bootpack it up some sections. Once you have gained the wall simply ski down to the lakeshore of Rockbound Lake.

Route up through the cliffs – not exact but that’s the idea. The trail may be track set.

I highly recommend Rockbound Lake if you’re testing out some new gear, want a nice half-day ski, and want to go for a nice ride on the way down!

Be ready for a fun ride down…and ready to bail!

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.