Kaitlyn Fowle loves skinning up a mountain on backcountry skis at moonlight and shredding mountain bike trails in the summer. But in her time growing up and recreating outside, she’s used to being the only woman in a group of guys heading to the mountain.
Outdoor sports have “always been super male dominated,” Fowle, who works as patrol director at Bolton Valley Resort, said.
But and her peers want to change that narrative through the Bolton Babe Force, a group of “rad and talented babes looking to share our love of the outdoors with other babes,” per their website, through empowering novices to play confidently outside, helping grow skills and safety knowledge for folks at all levels, and bringing people together to just have fun.
The Babe Force began about three years ago with the desire to introduce more women to backcountry skiing, said Fowle, who describes herself as a core member.
Since then, it’s expanded to offer other sports like mountain biking, which plays to one of Bolton Valley’s biggest summer attractions with its bike park season pass and day lift tickets, and has grown to include year-round meetups, skill clinics, seasonal camps and, yes, a moonlight skin with a marshmallowy award at the top of the mountain.
The group is inclusive of women, nonbinary people and anyone who identifies with and wants to come play with the community, noted Bolton Valley Resort marketing manager Michelle Ramirez.
All babes are welcome.
“To be able to take folks who have traditionally only been out maybe with guy friends and to change the experience up a little bit, create that new diversity in showing that there are hard-charging females out there and that we’re not intimidating. We’re all here for fun, no matter what level you’re at,” Fowle said. “I love to get to show other folks what we’re doing, how to play outside safely and have more fun. I get a lot of joy out of that and that’s really fulfilling for me.”
Leanne Deschenes, who works as assistant to the president of Bolton Valley, joined the Babe Force last summer. She jumped into a mountain bike skills clinic as a “total novice, so it was really fun,” she said.
Taking a clinic with other women who were also beginners eliminated “that intimidation factor,” especially once she realized everyone was in the same boat, feeling the same nerves and meeting new people. “Also, the group encouragement factor was really great. Everyone was cheering each other on,” she said.
As winter rolled around, Deschenes participated in one of Fowler’s clinics on first aid and safety tips for skiing, then another clinic that covered tips for carving on the snow and waxing and tuning skis.
“That weekend, I did go home and tune my own skis,” Deschenes said.
As a new Babe joining the Force, Ramirez is slowly dipping her toe into mountain biking and she’s excited to take on her second season of backcountry skiing next winter.
The moonlight skin up the mountain with s’mores at the top was also her favorite event last season.
“It’s really just trying to create a supportive nurturing space where you can feel comfortable to fail and fall and celebrate all of our little wins,” she said.
This summer, the Babe Force started a new program that focuses on fitness and education related to mountain biking, which is followed by their regular four-week series in July of beginner, intermediate and advanced mountain bike clinics.
Social rides are also planned throughout the summer and more information on registering for clinics is available at boltonvalley.com/babeforce.
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