At SheFly, we celebrate women every day of the year, but we’ll take any excuse to celebrate a little extra. For Women’s History Month this year, we’re highlighting five incredible women from around the world who are breaking barriers, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps, and making history in the outdoors today. We’re extremely proud of everything they’ve accomplished and also know that they are not alone. History is made by all of us and we each change the world a little bit every day by pushing ourselves to our limits, embracing the radical concept of rest, and learning more about ourselves and the world around us.
SheFly Co-Founder Charlotte Massey spent a year on a Thomas J Watson Fellowship researching women working as mountain guides around the world. This research included climbing, trekking, and high-altitude mountaineering with some incredible women in India, Nepal, Thailand, Chile, and Argentina. The five women we’re highlighting this month are just a few of the incredibly brave and strong women she met during that global research expedition.
Photo: Charlotte Massey
Bhuwneshwari (affectionately called Bhuvi by her friends) is a cross country ski racer and mountain guide from Manali, India. Bhuvi taught herself to ski on homemade wooden skis waxed with candles on the mountain slopes above her village. Her love for the sport and natural talent soon became apparent - she beat everyone at a local ski race, including the boys! Now she’s one of India’s top skiers, winning the India National Championships multiple times and winning the South Asian Winter Games in cross country skiing twice. Her dream is to help women feel comfortable and confident exploring the mountains and help other young women discover their love for exploring outside. She worked as a guide for 14 years with the dream of opening the first women-owned guiding company in her region so that she can help more women discover the joy of trekking.
Photo: Sunny Stroeer
Formerly a strategy consultant and Harvard MBA, now Sunny Stroeer is a record-setting mountain athlete based in the southwestern USA. Sunny was the first woman to climb Aconcagua (the tallest mountain in South America) via the 360 route unsupported in a single push. She’s since gone back to set a new female speed record from the basecamp to the summit. Just earlier this month, Sunny completed the Iditarod Trail Invitational, the world's longest and toughest winter ultra-marathon where she skied the entire Iditarod trail. Sunny also runs two guiding companies, AWExpeditions and Dreamland Safari Tours, and founded the AWE Summit Scholarship Foundation to break down barriers to entry to the big mountain realm for women from all walks of life.
Photo: Charlotte Massey
Payorm Numchan (Jane)
Payorm (Jane) is one of the very first female climbing guides in Thailand. She started guiding by chance when she visited a friend who was working at Railay beach, a famous rock climbing area in southern Thailand. Jane saw climbers walking by the beach and was intrigued at the graceful way they scaled the cliffs. Jane worked at a restaurant to afford to stay in the area and carried ropes for guides in exchange for them training her how to climb. She ended up making the Thai National Team and was ranked the best female climber in Thailand. Many people told Jane that climbing was too dangerous for a woman, but she persisted. Now Jane owns the Railay Rock Climbing Shop and also serves amazing vegan food!
Prerna Dangi is an ice and rock climber from Delhi who is breaking barriers for women athletes in India as one of the only professional female climbers. Prerna has climbed everything from frozen waterfalls to hard sport climbs and tough boulders, as well as technical high altitude peaks. She’s bringing other women up with her through the creation of organizations like Climb Like A Woman (CLAW), which aims to create a positive space through the means of climbing where women can learn, grow, and get inspired in an unbiased and encouraging environment. She’s also an ambassador for Eco Femme, a local menstreal product company, and Prerna advocates for safe and sustainable menstrual heigine practices for young women in the remote areas she visits while on expeditions.
Photo: Kopal Goyal
Durga Rawal grew up in a small agricultural village in the Mugu District of Nepal. Her parents expected her to marry early and work in the fields, but she was determined to get a formal education and do something different with her life. Durga joined 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking’s training program in Pokhara and now works as a mountain guide, taking tourists on treks around Nepal like the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp. You can learn more about Durga’s story in DURGA: Forging A New Trail, a short film produced by Emily Hopcian. SheFly co-founder Charlotte makes a cameo appearance as a trekking tourist (wearing the first version of our Go There pant!).