Squamish’s Stoke Sisters group continues this year with several opportunities for women to pick up new skills adventuring in the backcountry.
Stoke Sisters was founded by Melanie Wiese, who hoped to bring more women out into the backcountry to learn skills after noticing that women were often in the minority among these groups. This winter season, the group has already hosted an avalanche safety course in January and, at the end of March, there will be another winter camping clinic.
“I like to see Stoke Sisters as a community that offers empowerment to be a safe and independent backcountry user,” Wiese wrote in an email to The Squamish Chief. “To achieve this, participants get to learn these skills in a fun group of like-minded women, while being on a rad adventure.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, participants completed an Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 in the Sea to Sky backcountry. Wiese said it was a great learning experience because the snowpack so far this season has been weak.
“Knowing what to look for is key here, and having learned those skills in a year with a sketchy snowpack, one will recognize the red flags of a weak snowpack easier,” she wrote.
Besides an avalanche safety course, Wiese said Stoke Sisters would also bring back a winter camping clinic like the one that was hosted last year.
From Mar. 25 to 26, the group will venture to the Paul Ridge area and practice building a snow cave while bringing four-season tents.
Sometimes a barrier to entry for these types of clinics is the overall cost plus needing to have all the gear pre-purchased. But Wiese said at least some of the gear required is contributed by the groups Stoke Sisters collaborate with.
“The winter camping course will run through Canada West Mountain School and they have four-season tents, sleeping bags, some cooking gear and avalanche gear included,” she wrote.
Additionally, Wiese said leaders discuss the gear list with the participants and find ways to share gear or use budget-friendly options. Wiese also said some local gear stores will rent equipment if participants want to test stuff out before committing.
Wiese hopes to add an advanced clinic that combines winter camping and backcountry travel this spring. She hopes to add a few hiking trips and a wilderness survival course in the summer.
While all these trips take a lot of preparation and work, Wiese said that these trips with Stoke Sisters make her grateful.
“I also feel very grateful,” she wrote, “for all the women who showed up, mostly by themselves, being vulnerable and creating such an amazingly safe space to learn for themselves and others.”
“The older I get, the more I forget that learning something new is supposed to be fun,” she wrote. “So seeing people having fun with learning something is great, but really this is not me doing anything; it is the participants who show up facing their fears and being open.”
For more information about Stoke Sisters, including upcoming adventures, visit the website StokeSisters.com or follow them on Instagram.