Killary, Co Galway May 2019.
Women With Altitude is a Mountaineering Ireland initiative to encourage women to take on greater challenges in mountaineering, be they personal challenges, technical or leadership challenges.
This year’s Women With Altitude Event 2019 was based out of Killary Adventure Centre in the beautiful landscape of Connemara on the weekend of 17th – 19th May 2019. Over 90 women from all over the country with all levels of experience, instructors and the organising team were in attendance.The weekend kicked off with some fun orienteering around the forest near the centre where participants got a chance to meet and mingle with each other. Michelle Hughes a Mountaineering Ireland Provider who lives and works in Connemara introduced us to the delights Connemara has to offer in a fun and enthusiastic manner and although a power point was provided the view from the centre also allowed Michelle to pin point the areas she was talking about right outside the window!
Up bright and early on Saturday morning everyone set off to enjoy the many activities on offer such as navigation, scrambling, hillwalking and climbing for all levels of ability, although the weather started off dubious it remained dry for the entire weekend.
Ursula Mac Pherson our guest keynote speaker, entertained and inspired a captive audience as she brought us through a lifetime of adventure and fascinating experiences all over the world from kayaking, biking, even flying planes but predominantly mountaineering. The variety of expeditions and climbs she has accomplished to date is truly inspirational. After a delightful dinner, the winners of the photo competition were announced. A big thank you to the Great Outdoors who provided a gift for our key speaker and wonderful spot prizes for our photo competition. To top the evening off some night navigation enthusiast led by Maike Jurgen headed out to the hills to explore Connemara by head torch light.
Prior to another day full of activities such as trail running, environment walk, scrambling, climbing and a low land leader taster session, women were put into groups based on where they do their activities. This was to get some feedback from the participant but predominantly to facilitate networking between participants and encourage them to pledge to do something to progress their skills based on their experience at the weekend.
A feedback survey sent out to the participants after the event showed that over 70% of participants had never been to Women With Altitude before. Overall, the feedback showed that the event environment was welcoming and inclusive of all women of all ages, ability and experience. 90% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they learned new skills, that knowledge was shared and 85% stated that as a result of this weekend they will try more challenging activities in hillwalking, climbing and/or mountaineering.
Special thanks also to the Killary Adventure centre who were exceptionally friendly, efficient and accommodating.
Thanks to our wonderful instructors and trainees Orla Prendergast, Jane Carney, Helen Lawless, Michelle Hughes, Michelle Cassey, Poppy Wilson, Julie Reeves, Ursula MacPherson, Colette Mahon, Trish Kane, Joanne McCandless, Kelly O Reilly Smith and Ursula Timmins whose enthusiasm, knowledge and expertise encouraged and inspired participants to develop their skills.
A special thank you to the organising team Ruth Whelan, Colette Mahon, Rita Connelly, Maike Jurgen, Grania Peden and Maeve Mc Keever who worked seamlessly behind the scenes making sure everything ran smoothly.
Thank you to Sport Ireland for providing funding to support and subsidise this event to enable women to experience or develop their mountaineering skills of choice. Funding also enabled four bursary candidates the opportunity participate in the event for free based on applications submitted. Funding dependent, we do hope that we can make next year’s 10th Women With Altitude event even more special so watch this space.