The Mountain Within: Barriers Women Face To Exploring the Outdoors, and How to Conquer Them

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

Today we’re going to have a little talk about barriers.

Those grisly things that tell you “you’re not fit enough” or “you don’t have the money, the time, the ability” or I’m a mom, I can’t take time for myself right now!”

The list goes on for each of us.

Before you walk away thinking “well that’s just not me,” keep in mind that you have the power to lift your fellow lady explorers to overcome their barriers, even if they don’t apply to you. Knowing what barriers can look like for others is the first step in helping them… After all, you know Susan could use a day to forget her to-do list and turn off her buzzing phone, Megan is bogged down by work stress, and Amy’s wanted to try snowboarding for more than 3 years but just can’t find a way.

For most of us, barriers are everywhere. They’re the things that stop you, or make you second guess your decision to take the adventure you know would feed your soul. They stop your Wander heart in its tracks.

A study published in the Journal of Sport and Tourism found that the biggest challenge women face when it comes to getting outside… is themselves.

“Self doubt, fear, guilt and perceptions of being unadventurous” are the big ones. Another study found that money and time are some of women’s biggest constraints.

Let’s hang some of these barriers out to dry. We know that some might be more difficult than others, and some might be impossible to overcome at times, but shedding light to them so they won’t rear their ugly heads as often is an important step towards triumphing them. Maybe, if you have a better understanding of which barrier (or barriers) rendezvous with you and your friends, you can get a leg up on putting them to bed!

We’d like to see more of your beautiful faces out on those beautiful rocky faces, and we aren’t just one of those “Raw! Raw! Let’s get out there” kinda groups… No my friend. It’s our mission to empower you to get outside as much as possible, to experience the beauty and fresh air of the great outdoors, and to do it with a confidence-building skill set that allows you to conquer those barriers!

And empower you we will.

If you notice a barrier you face (or have conquered!) that we don’t talk about today, we’d love to hear your story! Email us at

Self Doubt and Fear: They’re Holding you Hostage!

Woman on hike with teal backpack looking up a very large steep cliff. Self doubt and fear can be some of the biggest deterrents to women exploring and learning new skills.
Conquer your adventures with confidence

This is where the “I’m not good enough” statements come in. You think you’re weak, or you don’t have the ability to develop the necessary skills, or you feel that your knowledge is lacking. Imagining yourself wiping out on your first ski trip and everyone turning to laugh could really make you scratch your head and think... “nah… maybe another day.”

It could also be that you’re scared of being lonely on your adventure. You don’t have the right companionship, or you would be a minority. The fear of learning a new skill alone can be downright daunting… and the idea of being the only woman makes your gut do a somersault.

Maybe your mom (bless her) is telling you “it’s a big risk, aren't you scared?” and mom knows best.

Finally, the fear of not being athletic enough can really be a downer. Just about all of us have been there…

Self doubt can be tough, but as an adult it’s easy to forget that the most impressive things you’ve done in life required taking a leap of faith. They’ve taken hard work. They might’ve taken a stumble or two to get you back on your feet and trying again. They weren’t easy. But accomplishing these things made you feel unstoppable. If it wasn’t raising your rambunctious kids or renovating your house, it could be learning how to rock climb or traversing a scree-ridden cliff.

Now, we’re definitely not saying you should ignore these fear feelings... we’re not saying you won’t fall down… and we’re definitely not saying that going alone on a camping trip is the right way to learn how to camp like those die-hards that head to the bush with a knife and canister to survive for a week. Naw - What we are saying is that one of the best ways to conquer your self doubt and fear is to face them head on.

Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Find local clinics that jive with your skill level! There are so many amazing resources out there for you to build your confidence and get you ready for the trails. We’ve held a few ourselves… and they’ve always been a knockout way to meet new adventure buddies!

  • Join our private ladies-only Facebook group! It’s FREE, full of wonderful women and chalk full of adventure sharing.

  • Network with explorers in your area. So many just like you are looking for others with the same interests, goals, fears, skill levels and the like.

  • Hire a local guide to take you out and show you the way! That, or explore new places with people who’ve been there. Treat them as your trusty travel guide. It’ll make them feel good, too!

  • Participate in safety clinics so that you can tackle the trails knowing you’re prepared for whatever comes your way (like our bear spray clinics!)

  • Research the area you’d like to go. It can really put your mind at ease knowing what you’re getting yourself into! (Download the Alltrails app for wicked trail guides.)

  • Check out some of these highly credible resources from our wonderful allies: AdventureSmart | WildSafeBC | LeaveNoTrace

  • Empower others. Acknowledging another woman’s skills as something you want to build from is a gift. Not great at skating? Get Katie, who’s a tremendous skater, to show you the way! Even if by the end you still look like a deer on stilts, you’ve lifted Katie up by showing her how talented she truly is. How great is that? (Repay the favour by teaching her something you rock at!)

We’d like to share with you an amazing stat provided by Outside Magazine. They surveyed 2100 women about their outdoor experiences, and we’re pretty pumped about these numbers:

Approximately 78% of women say that engaging in outdoor sports has given them more positive feelings about their bodies.

Better yet… Around 93% of women say that their outdoor adventures make them feel more confident!

Try not to let self doubt and fear control your decisions. You’ll feel a lot better for it.

Guilt: You CAN Carve "You" Time…(and you NEED to)

Woman on mountain face looking down on the town below. The guilt felt from being away from your family or career can be an adventure-dream killer. But you need that time for you!  <span>Photo by <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Sharon Christina Rørvik</a> on <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></span>
Guilt: You CAN Get Away… (and you Need to)

It can be really hard to admit that your devotion to the remarkable family you’ve made is a barrier, but if you’ve ever been a parent you know that your kids come first. As our founder likes to say, “I work for a 4 year old!”

Your little hooligans occupy a lot of your attention, and it can feel damn-near impossible to pull yourself away for the fresh air and fun you know you need. Even if you do manage to sneak away for a breather, you might feel guilty for not being there.

Do it anyway. Carve that space - even if it’s 20 minutes. You’ll be a better parent and support system to everyone around you if you take the time to tend to your own soul and needs. Reach out to your circle and find the time to make it work. The benefits for everyone in your life are undeniably profound! (This is a huge cornerstone for our founder!)

Another scenario: you pour countless hours into the career you put your sweat and tears into. You head home (exhausted) to throw on your Netflix shows and open up that bottle of merlot that’s singing your name (don’t get us wrong - there’s ALWAYS a time and place for wine). But sometimes routine and living in your comfort zone can be a killer. Maybe it’s keeping you from the camping trip your girlfriends are packing up for, or it’s an easy distraction from that mountain you keep talking (dreaming) about climbing. Again we say, carve that space, sister! You have today, two feet and a heartbeat. Make the most of it!

Our suggestions:

  • Use your network to find a babysitter, or create a babysitting system with another mom. If other Wanderers in your area have kids, they may be more willing than you think to trade caregiver duties for the times you’d like to get out onto the slopes. If you can’t find other Wanderers with similar needs, use local resources to find people you can trust.

  • Set aside a particular day of the week, month, or year to take a breather from your job (or family) and stick to it! Pick an accountability buddy and help each other strategize ways to prepare your partner and colleagues for the times you’ll be away.

  • Change up your adventure of choice to suit your time constraints.

  • Write out those