Scarpa North America Blog

No Boys Allowed: Climbing in Alaska With All Girls

Aug. 5th 2014

Playing on this month’s alpine climbing theme, Jewell Lund spoke to us about her recent all-ladies alpine climbing trip to Alaska. Here, she muses on what climbing with girls is like.

I glared hard at the three hoodies folded on my bed; we were in a staring contest and I wasn’t about to lose.  Only two of the three were going to make it into the suitcase. Should I go with the heavier weight, or the trim fit? Was it more important to be warm, or to not have extra fabric in my layers that would bother me as I climbed? Why was this decision so crucial?

Finally, I broke my gaze away from the hoodies, admitting defeat, and stuffed all three into my duffel. I am typically not a fan of gender stereotypes, but the one about females and packing too much for trips certainly exists. I had relegated myself to two sets of every piece of clothing for my next four weeks in the Alaska Range — underwear, socks, long johns, you name it — but sweatshirts were apparently where I was drawing the line.

So much stuff packed!

I was heading to four weeks in the Alaska Range: two weeks on the Ruth Glacier with Kim Hall, and two weeks on the Tokositna Glacier with Chantel Astorga. This simple ladies trip developed into a grand adventure – somebody must have been doing an impressive weather dance for us, because we had a lot of sunshine and great climbing days.

While we were in the mountains, many folks noted that it’s uncommon to see an all-female climbing team. We kept hearing the question, “Is it different climbing with all girls?”

Keep in mind, I love climbing with guys. They’re great company and often (especially when climbing with significant others!) very attractive. However, climbing with an all-female team is a different experience. What’s it like, you ask?

Ladies are stoked. Sometimes we just can’t contain how excited we are to be climbing in such beautiful mountains.

Ladies are not as smelly. Ok, we get pretty smelly. But when on a glacier for two weeks at a time, small things like packing a solar shower, Tiger Balm, or ‘doing laundry’ can be a huge help for morale.

Ladies eat well. This one is a must.  Ramen is fine.  Smoked salmon couscous with goat cheese and cranberries is better. I’m not saying we eat ‘better’ than our male counterparts (I’ve seen many an accomplished mountain-man-chef), but we take a lot of pride in our food.

Badminton tournaments on rest days!

Ladies have fun. Whether we are stuck in a tent or out climbing as hard as we can, you can bet we’ll be laughing together.

Ladies know how to try hard. With all these pictures of basecamp, I bet you wondered if we even went climbing, huh? We did. Often. Getting to stand on the top of a mountain is an incredible experience, but sharing the whole journey—laughs, fears, fatigue, and strength—with a partner is what really makes climbing special. This spring in the Alaska Range, we had long days and challenging climbing. It’s a pretty phenomenal feeling to bring everything you’ve got to a particular route, and know that your partner is doing the same.

Bottom line? Climbing with gals is a total blast, and so is climbing with guys. Though I genuinely value each of my climbing partners, whatever gender they happen to be, I am truly inspired from spending the last month climbing with two phenomenal, strong ladies.

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