A Squamish guide has organized a group to help empower and unite women interested in backcountry adventuring in the Sea to Sky area.
Stoke Sisters founder Melanie Wiese has led trips that include winter camping and a paddle in the Squamish Estuary.
Another winter camping trip will occur on March 26 and 27.
Additionally, Wiese said she plans hiking trips in the summer and hopes to offer a sea kayaking trip.
Wiese, an outdoor guide, said that the idea for the group was conceived after she noticed that not many women were participating in the same adventure activities as men.
“Whenever there are women in the group, it’s definitely the minority,” she said.
After noticing that, she said she wanted to create a space where women could come together.
“I want to make these things happen by connecting more women and being out there and doing cool things together,” she said.
Working as a guide for Canada West Mountain School, Wiese said her joy stemmed from teaching and watching others grow in the backcountry.
She said that the backcountry can give people newfound confidence by getting through challenges.
For Wiese, the group needed to be for women because after learning some new skills, they could go on to teach or help other women.
“Then they can empower each other…. They help them [get] into the community to help each other and not need guides or instructors,” she said, adding that they can also share gear like sleeping bags or mountain bikes.
Wiese noted that the women who participated in the first winter camping clinic were already leaving messages for the second clinic with details about how to stay warm or what extra items they found useful. Wiese said they were even encouraging each other that it was well worth the effort despite the difficulties of the trip.
“There’s this awesome new conversation and exchange going on right now, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen,” said Wiese. “It’s really nice to see.”
Currently, Wiese said the group operates by working with local partnerships like with the Canada West Mountain School and, in the summer, Be Wild Adventures and Wellness. Additionally, she said she wants to reduce the barriers for women to access, so she tries to work with partners that offer gear options or find local partners to provide discounts.