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  • Writer's pictureLeah Wz

Why I gave up backcountry and sold my set up

Updated: Jan 12

In short, because I didn't LOVE it. I was doing it because everyone else was, and because it was free...

But I RARELY came back from a day filled with stoke. It was always a "well, that was a lot of work for mediocre skiing". I'm highly risk adverse and wouldn't go in prime powder conditions, so busting crusty low angle wasn't worth the climb. And despite having a brain filled with knowledge, I was always filled with overwhelming anxiety about all the things that could go wrong.

In sports like climbing, I'm GREAT at setting my boundaries, because if "I don't lead this" at the crag, it doesn't compromise anyone else's enjoyment. I can sit there and munch snacks. They keep climbing. No biggie. By choosing to TR a route, the only person I'm "letting down" is me... and 99% of the time, I'm okay with that because I don't climb to project or tick leads off a list, I climb because I enjoy the movement. But on a group tour... if I start feeling out of my comfort zone, I'm potentially ruining the day if I decide to turn back with someone. Speaking up would mean that the crew would have to split up. Someone wouldn't get their line for the day. So I'd push myself and stay quiet, whispering "you can do it" affirmations to myself at the back of the pack. And most of the time... It was fine. I could do it. But there were also several times when conditions were windblown, icy and steeper than expected. And in those moments, I emotionally beat myself up for NOT setting boundaries when I was outside of my comfort zone. Because NOW, the group could actually be in danger if my lack of confidence turned into a back-country emergency. Because it's not just about if I got hurt, but how much of a partner could I be in a rescue as well... I failed at the number one rule of backcountry touring: Communication.

So I gave it up. And I mourned selling my skis. I felt like I was failing and losing a part of my identity. It felt like I was "giving up" or showing weakness for not being able to keep up in the mountains. Being a member of the local outdoor community, of owning a gear shop, of wanting to represent women in these spaces... I felt the need to fit into this epic, "strong female backcountry adventurer" mold or I wouldn't be taken seriously. It's difficult to say "NO" to the pressures of what social media or this "inclusive" outdoor community thinks you should look like... (even if it's all just expectations built up in your own mind). And it took me almost 5 years to realize... Despite the stunning pictures I'd post from the day, I never came back filled with excitement. I was always anxious and mentally drained. I dreaded the invites to tour, but also didn't want my setup to collect dust in the basement. So I sold it all, and it was followed with a sense of pride. For doing what felt good to ME. And with the money made from selling my set up, I bit the bullet and bought a resort pass. Because what I DO LOVE is zooming blue groomers. I love the vibrations of corduroy. And I found a love for lower risk Classic XC and meadow hopping... where I'm still able to soak in the snowy, muffled quiet and views of the mountains. Because the part I liked best of ski touring, was making those fresh tracks... or the movement (similar to what I love about TR climbing). I didn't need an epic ride down, just like I don't need to lead. My winter recreation looks VERY different now. But there are ONLY genuine smiles and laughs in those insta posts. (And I'd 100% say that I get 10x the thrill and giddy nerves from zooming slightly too fast, downhill in XC classic tracks... if you know, you know).

So find what works for you. 👌 Where you feel GOOD. This is your reminder: You do NOT need to recreate in the same way as your friends or partners. Don't take 5 years to realize, you don't need to keep up with the Jones's in the outdoors. Do what makes you grin. Go sledding. Go snowshoeing. Go birding. Top Rope the heck out of that route. Because if you're not doing it for your happiness, why are you doing it at all.

Pictured: Me finding pure joy in "less epic" winter recreation. Gear Hut is Reno's only used shop, here to help you give up, or find a new mountain hobby. At Gear Hut, you're able to consign and shop gently used human powered mountain sport gear and apparel. We're here to make getting outside more accessible and affordable while keeping gear out of landfills.

1 Comment

Dana Delicino
Dana Delicino
Jan 26

Thank you for sharing your outdoor path change. It is refreshing to hear someone admit when they are out of their comfort zone. I love being outside and doing lots of the activities but I don't want to do everything or anything that feels dangerous.

Best regards,


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