Now more than ever, women are breaking boundaries and records in the outdoors. Whether it’s completing previously-claimed ‘unclimbable’ routes, beating long-distance hiking records, or even just proving you’re never too old to pick up a sport, on 2019’s International Women’s Day I wanted to share with you all some of the best outdoor films with female leads I’ve seen over the past year. I hope their stories inspire you to throw gender stereotypes to the wayside, forget your insecurities and dip your toe in the outdoors.
- ‘Break on Through’ with Margo Hayes – At only 19 years old, climber Margo Hayes became the first woman to ascend ‘La Rambla’ in Spain and ‘Biographie’ in France, some of the hardest routes in the world. While her flexibility and strength proved that women could climb difficult routes just as well as men, it was her mental fortitude, her approach to these monumental tasks, not to mention her sense of humour throughout the film that struck me most.
- Catch It with Lea Brassy – Patagonia surf ambassador Lea Brassy made her home on a beach in Norway for seven years. Learning to live with ‘the minimum’ in order to follow her passion for surfing, Brassy’s chilled attitude and practical approach serves as a reminder to me that it is possible to follow your passions.
- Denali’s Raven with Leighan Falley – One of the biggest struggles women face getting outdoors is balancing their excursions with motherhood. Denali’s Raven follows Falley as she combines her job as a pilot in Alaska with her love of mountaineering, and raising her daughter Skye. Falley’s passion for her life is an inspiration for everyone, as is the stunning Alaskan mountain backdrop throughout Denali’s Raven.
- Operation Moffat with Gwen Moffat and Claire Carter – Writer Claire Carter is searching for inspiration to lead a more adventurous life. She finds it in Gwen Moffat, a 94-year-old climber and mountaineer who became the first certified British female mountain guide. Often living rough and taking odd jobs to continue her climbing career, Moffat went against the norms for women of her time and broke the mould for other women to follow today.
- Edges with Yvonne Dowlen – This film about a 90-year-old woman’s lifelong passion for ice skating proves you can enjoy sport at any age. Dowlen began ice skating as a child, before doing it professionally with the Ice Capades in the US. She never officially retired, and continued to enter skating competitions well into her older years. Even with the setback of being struck by a car or various illnesses, she continued to find a way to return to her favourite sport. Dowlen’s tenacity and passion shines through and will strike a chord with anyone – there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience after Edges finished!
- Wasfia with Wasfia Nazreen – The first Bangladeshi woman to summit Everest, Wasfia Nazreen discusses how she entered mountaineering in her namesake film. Covering her tragedies on the mountains, her perseverance to inspire other women and her plans for the future, Nazreen’s strong will and energy offers great motivation to encourage more women outdoors.
With film festival season for 2019 nearly upon us, I’m looking forward to sharing more inspirational outdoorsy women with you all. Tell me some of your favourite films below!