GO! Girls Outdoors

A resource for women in Outdoor Education and Recreation

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Gear

Gear Resources
Gear manufacturers have realised that lots of women like the outdoors and they're different shapes from men. Here's what's out there, and where you can buy it.

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Travel

Travel Resources
A selection of travel resources especially for women who love to travel. Includes a list of online communities if you do it yourself, or companies if you need a little help.

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Surfing

Surfing Resources
Listed here are some links to resources from all over the world that cater to women who love surfing.

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Hiking/Tramping

Hiking Resources
Extended walks are great for the mind and spirit and lots of women love to take part in them. Check out these resources and get inspired to go on a walking adventure.

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Snow Sports

Snow Sports Resources
Skiing, snowboarding, backcountry, polar expeditions - all done in the snow and all done by lots of amazing women.  Check out these resources to find out more...

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Kayaking/Canoeing

Kayaking Resources
White water, surfing, sea kayaking, sprint racing, marathon racing, multisport, fishing...is there anything you can't do from a kayak? Explore these resources!

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Cycling

Cycling Resources
A list of resources for all sorts of cycling - mountain biking, road biking, touring, racing, recreation and commuting - all specific to women.

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Climbing

Climbing Resources
Women can (and have) achieved incredible things in climbing. Listed in this section are a collection of climbing and moutaineering resources that are useful and inspiring for all climbers.

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Organisations

Organisations
A list of organisations that cater exclusively to women, or run trips exclusively for women. A great way to find a women-specific adventure in your area.

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Outdoor Industry

Outdoor Industry Resources
Looking for resources to help you plan programs, companies and organisations that cater for women or organisations you can join? Look no further...

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Brigitte Muir - Mountaineering

Brigitte Muir is one of Australia’s best known female mountaineers.  Her passion for the outdoors, in particular for climbing the world’s highest mountains, has given her a truly inspiring life of adventure and excitement that has led her all over the world.  I talked to Brigitte about her passion for the outdoors, fulfilling her dreams of climbing some of the world’s highest peaks, sharing her passion with others through guiding and her thoughts on the issues that can face women in the outdoors.

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Brigitte knows a lot about setting goals, sticking to them and achieving them despite numerous hardships.  Her book, The Wind in My Hair, is the story of her goal to climb the Seven Summits - the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents.  This took her nine years and she had to return to Mt Everest four times before finally achieving her goal.  Brigitte was the first Australian to climb the Seven Summits, and the first Australian woman to climb Mt Everest. 

After achieving the goal that she set herself, Brigitte went on to climb more 8000m peaks.  She says her focus didn’t really change, other than the fact she no longer had the long term goal of climbing the Seven Summits.  She adjusted her goal, and set out to climb an 8000m peak without sherpas or oxygen.  It was on Makalu, at 8463m the fifth highest mountain in the world, that Brigitte lost a close friend to the mountain and changed her life and focus as a result.  The death of her friend, Michael Joergensen, caused Brigitte to reevaluate what she was doing, and she realised that it was time to challenge herself in different ways.  In 2001 she became the first Australian woman to walk to the South Pole, and now concentrates on her artwork, writing, guiding and making documentaries in the small town of Natimuk, Victoria.

Brigitte still loves climbing, but now does it for others rather than for herself, leading World Expedition’s mountaineering expeditions for beginners and experienced climbers who want to trek and climb in the high mountains.  Brigitte’s view of what is enjoyable about being in the outdoors has also changed over time - a result of learning from her experiences as she has grown older.  She believes she has learnt a lot from guiding in the mountains, stressing the importance of communication and being open to feedback from clients.  This, she believes, has made her a better guide, which contributes greatly to her enjoyment of her trips and the outdoors in general.

On her Introduction to Mountaineering courses, Brigitte often takes all men.  This year, however, there were four women, which Brigitte says changed the experience for everyone.  She says it was a lot more satisfying and everyone learned a lot, not just the women but the men as well.  For one of the women, the climbing boosted her self esteem and she got up all three summits, coming away from the trip a different woman!  As Brigitte says - pushing yourself in the outdoors is a great way to do yourself good.

Mountaineering tends to be a male-dominated sport, as are the sports of caving and rock climbing which Brigitte took up in her late teens.  Brigitte admits that she’s done a lot of climbing with men, but that it didn’t ever matter to her because she just wanted to climb and she didn’t mind who with.  She says it’s difficult to find women who are into mountaineering, especially in Australia where water sports or team sports are more popular.  However, the increasing number of people taking up outdoor activities must also result in more women.  While guiding in Nepal this year, Brigitte met a group of ten Nepali girls from all walks of life who summited Everest and were hoping to keep mountaineering together.  She has also seen an increasing number of women attracted to Mt Arapiles, a popular rock climbing area, in the past few years.

Nepal_Nov_08_c_190-1 thumb.JPGBrigitte works as a mountaineering guide only twice a year, and says that’s sufficient for a healthy balance in her life. Looking after people day after day is extremely tiring and demanding, not to mention the responsibility for the people on the trip - it is important to avoid the point where you get so burnt out you can’t do the job properly any more.  The enjoyment of guiding, Brigitte says, also depends on what else is happening in your life - if you are happy with yourself it can be fantastic, but if not then that will reflect on your work in the outdoors.  For women (and men) working in the outdoors, she explains the need to find a balance between guiding and doing other things you can stay home for, and that the balance will depend on the individual. 

What makes the outdoors enjoyable for Brigitte is the connection with nature and the universe, and she loves sharing it with others.  These days Brigitte does this through guiding, and also through telling other people’s stories.  Currently she is working on a documentary that follows the lives of the sherpas she works with on trips, trying to understand their lives and the impact that mountaineering has had on them.  This project fits in with her advice to others involved in outdoor activities - respect the environment and respect nature, as that is the only way to survive.

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