Winter Women: Ladies’ Outdoor Programs

As more and more female instructors assume leading roles in Colorado’s backcountry, by-women-for-women ski clinics, camps and retreats are also on the rise. These programs not only help ladies conquer big challenges, they often come with fun extras like yoga, wellness speakers and après soirees. 

Legendary Ladies at Arapahoe Basin
Legendary Ladies at Arapahoe Basin
Ice climbing in Ouray with Chicks Climbing and Skiing
Ice climbing in Ouray with Chicks Climbing and Skiing

Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced outdoorswoman looking to beef up your skills, here’s how you can gain some serious girl power on your next visit.

Leave the Boys Behind

Ready to grab life by the ski poles but not sure where to start? As the name suggests, this outdoor program operated by Aspen Alpine Guides is a 100 percent testosterone-free zone. You can enroll in American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education safety and backcountry courses, as well as personalized ski, snowshoe and mountaineering guiding in some of the state’s prettiest (and wildest) spots. Come back in the summer, when offerings include mountain and road biking, trail running and peak climbs.

Telluride Women’s Ski & Wellness Week

America’s longest-running women’s-only ski retreat has united female skiers and instructors in Telluride since 1981. These days it’s not just one week, but two sessions held throughout the season, featuring morning yoga and meditation, expert instruction for all skill levels and talks on subjects ranging from body biomechanics to gear.

Ski Girls Rock

Founded by Olympian (and Coloradan) Lindsey Vonn, this ski camp for girls ages 7–14 aims to improve skills, build self-esteem and encourage teamwork in budding athletes. The camps are offered at Breckenridge Ski Resort in one- or three-day sessions. For grown-up ski girls, both resorts boast stacked schedules of women’s-only programs, including Breckenridge Women’s Ski Week. Women & Wine sesh, anyone?

IRIS Alpine

Formerly Chicks Climbing & Skiing, this Ouray-based group has rebranded to IRIS, an acronym for Inclusive Rock Ice Ski. Staffed by International Federation of Mountain Guides Association- and American Mountain Guides Association-certified instructors, IRIS embraces the empowerment of women, nonbinary and trans outdoors lovers. Their ice-climbing program guides you through some of the most challenging frozen pitches in the country, including routes in famed Ouray Ice Park. If skiing is more your thing, book a backcountry clinic to shred some prime off-piste powder stashes.

Aspen Expeditions Backcountry Hut Trips

Confidence is a necessary asset in our rugged backcountry, and gals will gain more of it under the tutelage of Aspen Expeditions’ seasoned female guides. Learn the ropes with an intro course or dive headfirst into a multi-day hut trip within northwest Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division or Braun Hut systems, where you and your fellow female adventurers will work together through challenging terrain by day and share stories, laughs and maybe a bottle of wine or two at night.

Sisters in the Steeps

If it’s resort frills and blue-square trails you’re after, stay far, far away from Silverton Mountain in southwest Colorado, where North America’s steepest and highest ski area (13,487 feet to be exact) even puts experts to the test. But for experienced skiers looking for new boundaries to smash, there’s the Women's Big Mountain Camp, a weekend of advanced heli-skiing, hair-raising terrain and hard-earned après parties — all in the company of other bad@$# ladies.

Steamboat Women’s Ski Camp

Hosted by Olympic skiers Deb Armstrong and Ann Battelle, these three-day retreats place equal emphasis on camaraderie and sport. With group breakfasts, lunches and cocktail parties, first tracks in Steamboat’s famous Champagne Powder® and seminars with inspiring speakers, you’ll leave with some valuable new skills and countless new friends. 

Ladies-First Ski Programs

On most weekdays, you can find a Colorado ski resort that offers women’s-only instruction for every skill level. Monarch Mountain near Salida offers Women’s Adventures clinics and Snowmass has Women's Ski Adventures With Kim.

Ready to get your ski on with like-minded peeps? Check individual resort websites for dates, availability and packages.

Want more?

Learn about awesome adaptive sports in Colorado.

Find out more about learning to ski and snowboard in Colorado.

Learn how to steer clear of winter backcountry danger.