How an Instagram account is getting more women into mountain sports

The action sports world is saturated with Instagram accounts that serve no purpose beyond getting you stoked. And, to some extent, that’s fine: The whole idea of action sports, and Instagram in general, is to see cool stuff. Not every account can be as deep as Humans of New York.

But occasionally, you come across an account that actually uses all of those likes and followers to accomplish something tangible. An account like @mountaingirls.

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The account was started a little over two years ago as a side project by Meg Kee, a climber and outdoor enthusiast living in the mountain town of Big Bear Lake, California, because of what she saw as a very simple conundrum: There weren’t enough women living in mountain towns.

women in mountain sports

Kee (above) started the account with the simple hope of seeing more women in mountain towns. Photo: Courtesy of Meg Kee

“I lived in Mammoth Lakes for a while before I moved to Bear and I would say it was like a ten-to-one ratio sometimes in terms of girls to guys,” Kee told GrindTV. “I snowboard and climb, and I think it’s a little difficult for some women to really break into those cultures because of that.”

So, in a small effort to inspire more ladies to head to the mountains, Kee began an Instagram account that highlighted some of the women from across the globe who were out climbing, biking, boarding and just generally living the mountain lifestyle.

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“I live an outdoor lifestyle and just started the account upon the idea of, ‘Here are the chicks who get out and do things,'” Kee told GrindTV. “I didn't have plans on it becoming anything, I just wanted to get more girls to come to the mountains.”

women in mountain sports

Fejtek said a major component of each weekend is building camaraderie between the girls. Photo: Courtesy of Mountain Girls

While she might not have had plans for the account to take off, it quickly skyrocketed in popularity, accruing over 189,000 followers in under three years.

“There are a ton of outdoorsy Instagram accounts that feature lots of guys,” Kee’s friend, Kristen Fejtek, who now helps her run the account, told GrindTV. “There was nothing directed towards the female audience.”

With a newly acquired mass following, Fejtek and Kee knew they wanted to capitalize on their influence, and so the first-ever Mountain Girls Weekend was formed.

Kee and Fejtek found 15 social media influencers — female athletes, models and bloggers — and gathered them at Powder Mountain in Utah for a weekend of hiking, yoga and exploring last year, hoping to reach as many followers as possible. But something wasn’t quite right.

“We hosted two weekend events with all these social media influencers and noticed that some of them really just weren’t all that appreciative,” Fejtek said. “We were giving out these free trips and they didn’t seem to be too happy about it, so we changed it up.”

women in mountain sports

Fejtek said she’s thrilled to open the Mountain Girls Weekend up to the public. Photo: Courtesy of Mountain Girls

The two moved their focus away from bringing in Instagram influencers. For the upcoming Mountain Girls Weekend from August 26-28 at Bear Mountain, they decided to open up registration to the public, charging women a discounted rate of $259 for a weekend of mountain biking, yoga and gear giveaways.

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“We just want to get as many girls out to the weekend as possible, because for chicks, when they learn these sports from girls and ride together, it's a more pleasant experience from a female perspective than to be out with guys constantly,” said Kee.

“We’re just driving girls to realize that you don’t need to be extra tomboyish to fit in,” Kee continued. “You can paint your nails and still come mountain biking. You can be a girl who just happens to be in nature and enjoy doing these extreme sports with a support group of other chicks who are learning with you.”

women in mountain sports

Kee emphasized that women feel more comfortable when learning with each other. Photo: Courtesy of Mountain Girls

To emphasize the learning aspect of the weekend, Kee and Fejtek are bringing in mountain biking pro Mickayla Gatto to help teach some of the women who aren’t as proficient at mountain biking. Ultimately, Kee says what she hopes she can do with the account is continue educating women.

“I’m not making money off this account, and we’re kind of just winging it, but I’ve been given an opportunity to help girls out,” said Fee. “In my mind, in my intuition, I know what we’re doing is right, and I know it will pan out. If we can get more women out doing outdoor sports and enhance our short little life on this earth, so be it.”

You can register for the Mountain Girls Weekend at Bear Mountain August 26-28 on their website, and be on the lookout for the upcoming Mountain Girls Weekend to benefit breast cancer awareness in December.

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