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Capability: Women have the hard skills and the soft skills to lead in the back‑ country. Some are better at one or the other; all can be learned. In this, women and men are equal. e ACC Women's Leadership Course offers women an opportunity to gain or refresh skills and then apply those skills immediately in a leadership situation. e focus is on leadership and making decisions—this can prepare women for everything from having a voice in the decision making on trips with friends to having the confi‑ dence to lead ACC trips. Strength: It's hard to argue that men don't have the edge on us in terms of strength. ere's a big difference between a man who is six feet tall and weighs 180 pounds versus a woman who stands five feet, five inches and weighs 120 pounds that has nothing to do with strength of will or level of fitness. At the very least, most women are biologically not as strong as men and yet we have to carry the same weight in our packs and on our feet. Does that make us the weaker sex or the stronger sex? Interesting question. While some women are fitter or stronger than others, all seem to have the ability to dig deep when it matters and find the strength of spirit and the reserve of physical strength needed to get the job done. On this camp, the playing field is more level and strength in its many forms no answer to this. Other organizations are not immune to this disparity—the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides is much more heavily weighted to men, although it's nice to see many more women rising through the ACMG exams on their way to mountain guide certifica‑ tion every year. And yet when a group of women get together for one of the Women's Leadership courses, something extra‑ ordinary happens. Five words come to mind: Empowerment: a natural kind of beauty by sandy Walker W e've all seen it happen, or have experienced it ourselves. For some reason, and whether it's right or wrong, a lot of women defer decision‑making to men in the back‑ country. Not all the time and not every woman, but it happens frequently. We keep the peace and don't always battle for pole position, even when we should. Perhaps it's a quietly confident leadership style—knowing that we can easily step into the leadership role when it's required, but knowing that it's often more valuable to remain supportive in the background. e purpose of this article is not to argue that point or delve into the reasons why. I am neither a feminist, nor an expert on demographic psychology. It's simply to talk about a time and a place— e Alpine Club of Canada Women's Leadership Course—where women make all the decisions and lead every day with‑ out the encumbrances of social pressure to be anything less than the leader. ere are plenty of women at the forefront of the mountain world, pushing the limits and setting records in alpine, ice, rock, mixed and big ski mountaineer‑ ing lines. Since the ACC's first General Mountaineering Camp in 1906, the split between male and female members has been roughly 55 per cent / 45 per cent. So why do the number of female leaders out there in the sections and on national camps not reflect these numbers? I have From back (left) Sylvia Forest, Jennifer Paterson, Anne Way and Jessica Paterson descend the ridge of Mount Olive. | De retour (à gauche) Sylvia Forest, Jennifer Paterson, Anne Way et Jessica Paterson descendent la crête de Mount Olive. photo: elisabeth eckhardt From left, Alison Murray, Jennie Paterson and Jessie Paterson work on trip planning skills for the next day's adventure. | De la gauche : Alison Murray, Jennie Paterson et Jessie Paterson exercent leurs compétences en planification d'itinéraire en prévision du lendemain. photo: sandy Walker

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