Gore Range Gravity Alliance hosts beacon challenge
New nonprofit aims to offer women opportunities to grow their skills in the backcountry
Friendships, fitness and knowledge make up the brand-new nonprofit and social group called Gore Range Gravity Alliance, created by local Amanda Marchiani.
“Our purpose is to not only give women of all experience levels the opportunity to meet other women who enjoy the same adrenaline-pumping outdoor adventures we do, but also to give them opportunities to grow their skills and offer education to help push them towards their goals,” Marchiani said.
The impetus for the Gore Range Gravity Alliance spawned out of a need to find more backcountry touring partners.
“As life in the valley goes, people move away, have major life changes and relationships ebb and flow,” Marchiani said. “I began to search on Facebook, Meetup, and Google for groups to do outdoor activities with but I seemed to find more women’s groups based out of Denver or other Colorado counties.”
Marchiani also found that many of these groups met directly at a trailhead, not giving people the opportunity to get to know one another much outside of the physical activity of going up a mountain.
“Not only can that be a bit intimidating, but anyone who knows backcountry skiing knows that a lot of trust goes into a backcountry relationship, and if you’re going on a multiple-hour tour with others you kind of hope you get along fairly well to boot,” Marchiani said.
Marchiani, who works on events like the X Games, Dew Tour and Red Bull Rampage, decided to post an event on Facebook to see if local ladies would be interested in getting together.
“We had our very first social at Root and Flower just before this past Christmas. It was fairly small, but the women who were there were excited about what this new group could become and I was determined to turn these ideas into reality,” Marchiani said.
Since Christmas, the group has hosted several events, including a Wax ‘n’ Wine Night at Cripple Creek Backcountry in Avon, a two-part navigation course on route finding and map making, a women’s backcountry yoga class at Vail Brewing Company, a know-before-you-go avalanche awareness social at Root and Flower and a women’s panel at Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea Company with local female industry experts Ellen Miller, Meg Twohig, Jenn Silva, and Kelli Rohrig.
The Gore Range Gravity Alliance also meets once a month to do uphill treks at Vail, Meadow Mountain, Arrowhead and other locations.
“We try to always make sure there is a social aspect to our events, we think this is a necessary fuel for our community,” Marchiani said. “I couldn’t do this without Amber Moran and Kelli Rohrig. Amber has been there since the very first meeting and outside of her help getting us up and running and designing our first official website, she brings 10 years of Avalanche Education and Summit County Search and Rescue experience with he.”
She added: “I’m also incredibly grateful to Kelli Rohrig who came to our first official event and has been supporting us since with event ideas of her own and bringing her 15 years of Avalanche Education and guiding experience to those events.”
Gore Range Gravity Alliance is hosting what will hopefully become an annual event on Saturday with a Beacon Challenge at Meadow Mountain at 1 p.m.. Solo beacon searches and team digging competitions will be a part of it, but the event will also highlight the importance of not only avalanche education, but also the continual practice and use of that education.
“It’s not much of a secret that Colorado has the most dangerous snowpack in the US. With more and more people venturing out into the backcountry, it is increasingly important to get the word out on avalanche safety and practice.,” Marchiani said.
The event begins at 1 p.m. and will have some awesome prizes and beer from Vail Brewing Company.
Though the group is excited to put this event on, its leaders also want to remind people that this is not a professional course and strongly encourage everyone to get educated through certified instructors and programs. The Gore Range Gravity Alliance may be primarily for women, but everyone is welcome to come for the Beacon Hunt and the Navigation Night on Monday.
To learn more about the event and future gatherings, go to GoreRangeGravityAlliance.com.
What: Beacon Hunt
Where: Meadow Mountain near Minturn
When: Saturday, April 2, 1 p.m.
Come practice backcountry skills and learn more about the Gore Range Gravity Alliance. Awesome prizes and beer from Vail Brewing Company.