Leonie Wohl had the pleasure of skiing up north this winter despite living down here in Australia. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little jealous of her last-minute trip when she pitched it to us, but we also wanted to hear all about it when she got back. If you also feel like a vicarious shred at a world-class lodge with a bunch of ripping women, read on!
WOMEN'S WEEK AT A BACKCOUNTRY LODGE
WORDS BY LEONIE WOHL
PHOTOS BY LAUREN POWERS
Maybe you were lucky enough to get some epic pow turns with friends this northern winter, maybe you’re dreaming about the same to come in the Southern Hemisphere (fingers crossed!). Well, I was lucky enough to get those pow turns, not only with one of my best girlfriends, but with a bunch of other women, across four epic days in a bucket-list location.
Just over 50 women (including our female guides) came together, all with a different story and journey — some travelling with old friends, some travelling solo and making new friends along the way, and some even running into unexpected old connections in the departure zone of Nelson Airport.
The one thing we all had in common was the desire to connect to like-minded lady shredders. We knew that the week would be full of those feel-good vibes, of lifting each other up and making memories and friendships to last a lifetime.
Now, if you haven’t heard of Baldface Lodge or aren’t familiar with what’s on offer — it’s a private cat-skiing lodge just north of Nelson, in British Colombia, Canada. It’s well worth putting it on the bucket list! There is a waitlist of more than a year and it’s home to Stop #2 of the Natural Selection Tour (the stop that Lé Bent team rider Dustin Craven won this season).
The Lodge has access to more than 32,000 acres of land for your shredding pleasure, set deep in the Selkirk Mountain Range. The terrain is epic and has it all — steeps, tree riding, open mellow fields and the one-and-only ‘Scary Cherry’ Natural Selection course.
How did I get one of these limited spots for Baldface Lodge?
It’s simple, take your friends with you! Now, I don’t mean just invite your crew on a weekend away. What I mean is, when the opportunity presents itself for your own success, networking and progression, pull your support network up to your level and bring them on the journey with you. And that my friends, is exactly how I got on this trip of a lifetime!
Throwback to December 2021 — Australia is just starting to see the light at the end of the Covid tunnel, and international travel is becoming a thought we now dare entertain… it's within reach. And just like that, it’s like the universe in all her wisdom knew it was time.
I got a call from my USA-based best girl, excited that we Aussies were finally getting let out… Her next sentence set me into a spin…
“I got you a spot at Baldface for Women’s Week with me!”
You’re kidding! Not only did my girl get on this trip, but she also got me and two others from her hometown on it too. And as she would say… "Duh, of course my girls are coming!"
Fast-forward 3 months, time to dust off the board bag, dig out the base layers and jetset off to the other side of the world, crossing my fingers and toes that Mother Nature was on our side and had something up her sleeve in the form of April pow for one epic girl’s trip!
What is Women’s Week all about?
Women’s Week Baldface is about celebrating connection, it’s about coming together for a common love of snowboarding, it’s about sparkle parties, cocktails, bonfires, birthdays, and having one hell of a time making memories with all the #baldfacebabes — guests, guides and staff!
It’s about sharing your story, your journey, inspiring others and being inspired in return. And this year’s gathering of shred sisters did not disappoint!
There were your everyday ‘leisure athletes’ and mums taking time out from busy lives and jobs to do what brings them joy; there were aspiring, semi and retired pros; there were survivors of breast cancer and the incredible women who run B4BC; there were entrepreneurs carving their place in the world, bringing more options for women’s specific gear. We were young women and young-at-heart women, and then there were the boys of Baldface who were stoked to have the vibe of Women’s Week descend upon them.
We were even lucky enough to have the one-and-only Baldface regular, Jess Kimura, spend the week with us — riding with us, sharing stories of building Scary Cherry in summer, and a special night sharing her story and movie with us. Having someone who is such a legend, who has done so much and is still pushing so hard for women in snowboarding, shredding alongside us all week was pretty cool and an absolute honour.
But, what Baldface is really about, is the pow turns and Mother Nature, she delivered!
So, now we have the vibe check, what does the week look like?
After the heli uplifts and an afternoon of settling into the lodge, drinks, and setting up or waxing boards, we settled into a three-course dinner, a briefing on how the week would run, instructions for our first morning and a choice to either relax or kick on at the bar. Walking back to the chalet, snow started falling.
About 5cm fell on the first night and would be the start of the snowfall that increased each day – thank you, Mother Nature! We spent the first hour or so completing an avalanche safety refresh and practised using our beacons. We got to know the guides and our cat driver. As cat #4, my group was the last to leave, at first thinking maybe we were missing out on precious shredding time, but we soon realised we had absolutely struck gold with our guides – the legendary ‘Walrus’ and Florida-girl-turned-Nelson-local, Tammy.
Walrus, knowing all the best spots as a long-time guide for Baldface, had us on fresh tracks across all four days. Not just good for fresh tracks, Walrus also delivered on the bad jokes and witty Canadian one-liners throughout the day.
We averaged around 3500 vertical metres or about 12 runs and rode from about 8:30 – 3:30 each day. Lunch was eaten out on the cat — tunes playing, absolute stoke, big smiles — then beers on the way back to the lodge. The post-ride schedule was full of aprés, dinner, massages, bonfires, a movie night, photo slideshows of each day, fireworks, one very epic sparkle party — rinse and repeat!
Four days of pow shreds, good times, new friendships and belly laughs for days. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of women to share the week with!
New connections, shared ideas and goals and promises of future — Women’s Week isn’t just at Baldface but all over the world. The week was exactly what you can hope for when such an inspirational and passionate bunch of shred sisters take over the ultimate cat-skiing destination.
So, as we head into the Aussie season, I’m filled with ambition to bring more of that vibe to the Women’s Backcountry community, to grow the community and provide more opportunities for women to build connections and get out there!
So, watch this space because who runs the world? Girls!