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International Women's Day 2019

To mark International Womenís Day 2019, we are celebrating women who love being in the hills, mountains and climbing walls. We want to inspire more girls and women to get active, and show that people from all walks of life take part in these activities, some for fun and others who take it to another level or make a career out of it Ė it really doesnít matter as long as you enjoy it!

We asked our members to tell us how they got into hillwalking, mountaineering or climbing and how thatís influenced their lives. Hereís what they told us:

I was lucky growing up because my family did loads of outdoor activities including hillwalking and camping. However, whilst I've always loved nature and wildlife, mountains seemed a lot like hard work back then. The turning point came in my mid 20s, when I spent a winter weekend in Snowdonia with my Dad. I was stunned by the beauty and drama of winter and resolved to get some formal training and skills under my belt. Dad and I went on a winter skills course at Glenmore Lodge. It wasn't long before the winter mountains had become an addiction, and I'd taken up rock climbing too. Gradually, the need to be in the hills became all-consuming, and I began to change the direction of my career and to gather outdoor qualifications. Now I'm a full-time freelance mountain leader, working all year round in Scotland and abroad, sharing my love of nature and the hills with others. Life outdoors is the only life for me really. Too much time spent inside and I feel cooped up and grumpy. The mountains give me peace, direction and help me feel at ease with myself. I'm fitter in my 40s than I was in my 20s, and a lot happier too.  All this comes from being in the hills. 

I took up indoor climbing for something to do while my daughter was going through her own climbing training. Now she is grown up I still enjoy the challenge and the social side. I now focus on bouldering as it offers different levels of challenges to fit my mood and training programme, and is something I can do on my own if my climbing partner is not available.

Women are participating in indoor climbing in ever increasing numbers; in fact at youth level the girls usually outnumber the boys at our competitions. More and more walls have ladiesí nights, offering an opportunity for female climbers to come together and encourage each other.  You can chat between attempts and grab a coffee and cake afterwards.

I recently attended a Womenís Training Symposium where 60 women of all ages took part in scientific studies and inspiring workshops. I think this is a great acknowledgement of the different needs of women within the sport and hope more will be done.  

The mountains have always been important to me, and I cherish every second I am out exploring, especially after breaking my back a few years ago. Every outing gives me such a boost - my energy levels are recharged, my mind is cleared and happiness overflows. It's clear that the great outdoors is an integral part of me, and brings so much peace and joy.   

And without doubt I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful country that offers fantastic walks, and to have the ability to enjoy such special outings.   

May the exploring never end!   

Love Scotland's mountains and want to start hillwalking?

If you're keen to get active and think hillwalking might be your thing, here's are some tips on getting started:

  • Get the right kit - the right clothing and equipment can make all the difference to your comfort and safety
  • Essential skills - if you're heading out to the hills, there are some essential skills you should have to ensure a fun and safe experience
  • Getting started with a family - heading out to the hills is a great way for your kids to burn off some energy, gain a love of nature and a sense of adventure
  • Basic skills courses - we offer a range of subsidised skills courses for our members including navigation, weather and avalanche awareness, scrambling and winter skills.
  • Join a club - a great way to enjoy Scotland's hills and mountains, make new friends at the climbing wall and gain confidence to try new things.

Find out more about Getting Started 

Find out about becoming a member of Mountaineering Scotland

I am a member of East Kilbride Mountaineering Club and last year successfully completed my Mountain Leader award.  

For me the mountains are a release from the pressure of a life that I try to cram too much into. It is a re-balancing experience. The warmth of the sun on your face on a summerís day while lying in a sheltered spot on the summit, or feeling the spindrift scour your skin on a wintery climb, pushes the mundane and everyday from your mind. I feel endlessly powerful as I stride upwards, then, pausing below huge crags, I realise how fragile and insignificant I am. I know the shared experience of all those who have climbed before me and the solitude of being the only person in a vast panorama. Mountain experiences are out of the ordinary, they engender exhilaration and exhaustion, self-reliance, confidence and fear. To come home with a tired body and a quiet mind is all I ask.

Ironically it was a health issue that triggered my hillwalking and climbing obsession. I used to run regularly, but I developed symptoms of an underactive thyroid, and found that I was no longer able to run for more than 20 minutes. Instead, I started going for long walks. I joined a Meetup group (Meetup.org) and I became an organiser, with the specific intention of posting easier hill walks that someone as unfit as myself would be able to do! After about a year of treatment, my thyroid problems improved and so did my fitness, quite suddenly. That was two years ago. I also started climbing, and I'm a hillwalking and climbing fanatic now. I recently did my Mountain Leader course, and I'm due to take my assessment soon. I used to think it was amazing that I met so many nice people in the hills. Now I realise that it's because being out in the fresh air, in natural surroundings, puts people in a good mood.

Discovering the hills in my late teens and early twenties has been one of the most rewarding things in my life and I have made many close friends as a result! I never expected that I would compleat the Munros and when I started out I wasn't that keen on heights, but fast forward a few years and I was dangling off the In Pinn in the mist and rain (albeit with a guide). Hillwalking (especially in winter) has also taken me to places with views which I couldn't have imagined existed in Scotland.

I love heading out to the hills on my own, with no other distractions except the beautiful scenery and wildlife. Having said that, I've got a great bunch of friends who I go walking with and it's rewarding to share the experience of exploring Scotland's mountains with such awesome people.

Although I have travelled all over Scotland, I really appreciate my local patch in the North East and there's no better feeling than coming home to my family after a day out walking.

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Mountaineering Scotland is a not for profit membership organisation with 14,000 members. We are the only recognised national organisation representing the interests of hillwalkers, climbers, mountaineers and ski-tourers in Scotland. If you love Scotland's mountains, join us!