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A resource for women in Outdoor Education and Recreation

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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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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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Heather Swan - BASEjumping

Heather Swan.gifNever let fear, prejudice or self doubt stand between you and your dreams.

“If riding in a plane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element - get out of the vehicle!” 

This is a skydiving quote that Heather Swan, BASEjumper, Wingsuit BASEjumper, author, photographer and professional speaker, obviously takes to heart. 

BASEjumping involves jumping from fixed objects, either using a parachute or a combination of a Wingsuit and parachute.  BASE is an acronym that stands for the four categories of fixed objects from which BASEjumpers can launch: Buildings, Antenna, Spans (bridges) and Earth.  BASEjumping is relatively new as a sport in its own right (that is, not a spin off from skydiving), gaining popularity in the late 1970’s.  To be a successful BASE jumper (as Heather and her husband Glenn report on their website) you must complete a minimum of 200 skydives and have a range of skills including disciplined judgement, fine motor skills, expert canopy control, mental and physical acuity and unshakeable self-confidence.  This makes most participants dedicated athletes, reasonably a little annoyed by the media’s representation of BASEjumping as an illegal, foolhardy sport.  To read the article mentioned above and for more information about the sport and its history, go here.

 tn_Heather Flying.jpg

Heather holds two World Records in BASEjumping and Wingsuit BASEjumping with her husband, Dr Glenn Singleman.  Both of these jumps were from 6604 metres on Mt Meru in India, at a location that takes a hard climb of 23 days to reach.  At the time of writing Heather is the only woman in the world who combines high altitude mountaineering and BASEjumping (and Wingsuit BASEjumping).  In 2006 Heather and Glenn were the recipients of the prestigious ‘Spirit of Adventure’ Award from the Australian Geographic Society.

Heather began skydiving, climbing and canyoning with her Glenn, who is a professional adventurer.  She was hooked from the start and now lists her favourite outdoor activities as Wingsuit BASEjumping, Wingsuit skydiving, rock climbing, mountaineering, trail running, mountain biking, trekking, skiing and kayaking.  Heather says her role in the outdoors varies depending on the activity, describing herself at different times as an athlete, instructor, educator, competitor and happy participant.

Heather_on_Meru.gifHeather’s career started in the corporate world, but now her work is writing, photography and speaking - mostly about her experiences in the outdoors.  Her first book, Defying Gravity Defying Fear (ABC Books), is about Glenn and Heather’s project to attempt breaking Glenn‘s World Record for High Altitude BASEjumping, set by Glenn in 1992 from The Great Trango Tower in Pakistan, 6248 metres.  The book (and documentary) follows Heather, who had never been skydiving or mountaineering before, as she attains the skills she needs to conquer her fears and learn to BASEjump.  Her new book, No Ceiling (Five Mile Press) comes out in August.

BASEjumping is very male dominated and Heather says there are advantages and disadvantages in this.  She says that an advantage is being able to step away from poor choices that can be made in the heat of peer pressure - many guys are afraid to appear weak and will go ahead with a jump even if they don’t feel comfortable.  Heather feels that as a woman she doesn’t have that same pressure. 

One of Heather’s role models is Marta Empinotti, the world’s most experienced female BASEjumper.  Marta, Heather says, is remarkable - petite and feminine but tough, capable and self-assured at the same time.  When Marta started BASEjumping, the sport was considered a thinly veiled attempt at suicide, even for men, but she loved it and stuck at it and now she is one of the most respected BASEjumpers in the world, male or female.

A disadvantage of the male dominated environment is that there can be some prejudice, but Heather has found that the best way to handle this is to see the prejudice for what it is - insecurity and fear.  She stays true to herself and her own goals, avoids the temptation to get caught up in the ‘macho thing’ and focuses on excellence in her own performance. Regardless of whether you are male or female, excellence inevitably wins respect.

(Photos from the Baseclimb website)

For more information on Heather, Glenn, their past achievements and their upcoming adventures, visit the Baseclimb website.  You can also view videos and photographs of some of their BASEjumps at the blog.

Have you also read the profile of Brigitte Muir, famous Australian mountaineer, on GO! Girls Outdoors?  If not, go here.

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