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because sex sells: #mtnbabes

If you’re not aware of the hashtag sensation of #mtnbabes and the correlating instagram account, website, and videos, you’re probably in one of these categories: a chick, aren’t into outdoor recreation, or still have dial-up internet.

But if you do fall into one of those categories, let me educate you. The mission statement for Mountain Babes is (as stated on their website):

We want to represent those gnarly, hardcore chicks who know how to get after it and who understand the benefits of climbing the tallest peak. We believe in being all that you can be, and aspire to obtain the toughest challenges. We want women to thrive in the outdoors and appreciate the power of the mountains.

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You’re thinking, this sounds great! I’d love to be a part of building a community of strong, empowered women. I’d love to inspire more women to get outside to mountaintops. How do I get involved?


The answer is simple: by taking topless photos on a mountaintop!

Wait, seriously?

Is that what inspires women to get out…?


No, it doesn’t.

Funny thing, as a chick, I don’t get hyped on seeing a pro skier atop a local peak without her shirt on. That doesn’t scream to me, hey, maybe I should go do a tempo run so I can be better mountain runner!

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Videos of women spraying each other with beer by a river doesn’t really get me psyched to paddle class 4 rapids or prep for my 142 mile adventure run either. Why then?

If your photo gets posted by Mountain Babes, 9,000 IG users will see your beautiful nude back. You’ll probably get new followers. You’ll also get a few good-natured chuckles as well as comments from random men who are super psyched that women like you exist—“beautiful women, in the outdoors, naked? Hell yes!”

One thing you won’t get? My respect for you as an athlete.

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As a woman, I understand the desire to be attractive, sexy. As a mountain lover I know the need to be free, and have skinny dipped or nude camped my fair share of times. But as a mountain athlete I don't find it "gnarly" "hardcore" or "powerful" to see another woman standing off a trail or next to a waterfall without her shirt on. It doesn't get me psyched to climb or run or cruise up a mountain. It makes me sad that this is the easiest and most successful path for women to get attention, even in the outdoors. Even on big mountains. In social media a woman can scale a 14er in record time and post a photo.... meh. But if she strips down on the summit, well, now that's something worth celebrating!


This is nothing new. Because sex sells. It always has, it always will. Female athletes who want to be on a cover of a magazine don’t just need to crush their sport, they need to look good doing it. Mountain Babe photos will get several thousand likes of a female hiker’s nude back, while pro kayakers, skiers, or rock climbers will often only receive a tenth of that much attention when photographed excelling at their sport.


So, here’s a shout-out to all the mountain babes who manage to be total beasts and babes without using sex as a tool for likes. A shout-out to the inspiring women who manage to get the attention and respect they deserve not because they show off their beautiful bodies, but because they use their beautiful bodies to kick ass, with their sports bras on…

because those girls need support.

Pun intended.

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Author's Note: images are screen shots from the following websites, and all images and content belongs to these sites and their respective owners: ,, and 

Call to women readers: Do the #mtnbabes photos inspire you? Why or why not? 

Male readers: Do you find topless photos of women in the mountains more attractive than photos of women crushing it? (no judgement here, I'm really just curious.)


  1. Thank you so much, Jennilyn! Thank you for helping us spread the message and for putting it in a way that doesn't beat around the bush. We are so glad to have you in our corner and glad you were inspired to write this. Keep that head high; this is a worthy issue to stand behind. :)

  2. No. As a woman they do not inspiare me at all. I almost feel sad for them, and just as you mentioned in your article, they do not get my respects neither. Not as woman or as an athlete.

  3. Honestly, I'd rather see them as woman it's more inspiring. Sex doesn't always have to be the front to prove or show our success. Hard work, determination and respect of pushing ones self. We've had the power sexual from day one and now we have worked hard to show we are more. Keep that guys are bad asses and don't need to show them to prove it. Looking good though.

  4. I hadn't heard of that hashtag before, but admittedly those pictures did inspire me...inspired me to wonder why anyone would want to expose themselves in such a way, and if they would regret it in the future. It totally sidetracked me from whatever accomplishments they were "commemorating." #missionnotaccomplished

  5. As the first male commenting, I am happy to say I share your view. I would rather see a fully clothed woman crushing it in her respective sport. Those women that resort to ditching their clothes to get attention or attempt to get ahead instantly lose my respect. Keep up the good work inspiring other women, and men, all around!

  6. runmenudehappy: While I respect your opinion, it appears that you don't understand these women, or what it's about. There is power and freedom there, and pure beauty that you can feel is on their faces.

    I'll let you in on a secret. Before the hashtag, they were doing it. Before they were taking photos of it, they were doing it and it was just as rewarding for them. If you've never done something like that, you likely will not understand...and seeing a fully clothed woman crushing it at her resort, or in the backcountry is extremely powerful and beautiful too.

  7. They wanted to be free, to feel free, to feel the sun on their bodies and the wind on their skin, and pictures simply are because they are proud.

    Nudity is not sex. It may be sexy, but it is not sex. The last thing on their minds at that time is sex. It's freedom, it's life and it is strength.

  8. Why does everyone here think this is about sex?

    Do you honestly think that all these women doing this are thinking about sex?

    It's not. To those doing it, sex is not a part of it at all. It's only those that don't understand it that think it's about sex.

  9. It's not about sex. If that's what you think this is about, you don't understand any of these women. It's about freedom, strength and beauty. What you can't see, but I can, is the beauty and true honesty in the smiles on their faces while the camera snaps the shot.

    You can catch a glimpse in their shoulders and as you see them stretch.

    They are all purely beautiful and have my respect.

    PS: These women do crush it in their sports, including climbing mountains. They are strong, and powerful and beautiful....and free. To be honest, I'm actually surprised to see the lack of respect being shown here.

  10. I stumbled upon this post during an internet search. The hypocrisy of this argument is astounding. You claim to take the moral high ground while filling your public blog with mini-skirt clad ass shots of yourself? I'm curious about the thought process behind this. (pun intended) Perhaps "to each her own" would be the most logical response?

  11. Londo, I get what you're saying, and it's fine if they or you want to do that. The opinion I stated is that I don't think it needs to be commemorated with a bare body. What my comment reveals is that I wouldn't choose to do so myself and I don't understand why others would. As for "sex," which my comment never mentioned, there is a great difference between the action (which, duh, the pictures are not depicting) and the use of one's sex (gender, body, etc.) to draw attention. That kind of sex is a secondary consideration which is supposed to draw or ends up drawing attention on behalf of the primary consideration (the awesome strength and tenacity of a woman). Think marketing, sales, ads, etc. I know the difference, as I'm sure you do, too. There's that segment of the population who love Carl's Jr. but didn't appreciate them using sex to sell their burgers and took their opinions public. Kinda the same concept here.

  12. It great to feel the freedom and go topless, it is fine to take a picture... but why on earth would you post it on social media? It is sad, but it seems to me it is to simply get attention! If it was just for themselves and because they are proud of feeling free and great, they could keep the pic to themselves and closed ones and it would have the same effect, or maybe it would NOT...maybe sharing it is what makes them feel proud!

  13. My thoughts exactly. Thanks for writing this!

    I think there is a difference between people who do this to be free and one with nature, and ones who do it for attention. The girls who are taking their clothes off at the top of mountains because they want to be free and feel beautiful in nature are most likely not taking pictures and posting them on social media. If its so special and empowering and freeing, why would they need to share the photos?

    I don't have a problem with women doing it, I am all for whatever makes you happy. I just don't think it needs to be shared with the whole world!

  14. Hmm ... if this were 1870 and covered wagons were regularly rolling into Utah valley, maybe I could see your point. "OMG! Nipples and breast tissue!" But the Elizabethan era is over for most of us folks.

    People run mountain trails and scale peaks to conquer challenges and to experience the satisfaction of meeting those challenges. People find peace and healing in the mountains. People contemplate deep thoughts in the mountains. Sometimes we feel closer to God up there. In all these regards, we are brothers and sisters, aren't we?

    Not everyone has body image issues. We all have our quirky pre-race rituals behind starting lines and similar quirks may extend to mountain summit celebrations. These women aren't doing anything that is "in-your-face". They're not flashing their boobs in front of Cub Scouts or Episcopalian nuns. They're aware of the awesomeness of their bodies and they are acknowledging this.

    It may be too much "girl power" for some but isn't "girl power" a large part of your DNA as well? Does every DNA strand have to be a perfect match in order for you to be accepting?

    If you summited a peak and encountered five or ten or twenty topless women, you wouldn't be able to share a granola bar with one of them or sit down and establish a connection, a bonding, or a possible friendship? Would being geeked out and uncomfortable with someone's breasts prevent you from doing so? What would you say besides "you're ruining my vibe!" or "you are engaging in self-exploitation"? If you can't say that to someone in person, what's the point of saying it on a blog?

    Peeling one's top off after a long, sweaty climb does not mean these women any less virtuous than you. Faulting these women for a bit of revelry to the point of "not respecting" them is unfortunate. It is arguably a form of woman-on-woman slut-shaming. When primness prevents you from stretching out your horizons, isn't it a form of saying, "I'm so much better than that?"

    How much better do you really think you are?

    When people go through life "tsk-tsking" others for not meeting their own superior moral standards, aren't they short-changing themselves? Aren't you essentially dismissing these women with a simple wave of your hand or middle finger?

    Maybe if your own sensitivities were not wound seemingly so tightly, you'd realize these women are not doing anything harmful or hurtful. Tolerance, understanding, and a love of others who do not exactly match our belief systems will take us a long way in this life!

    Maybe reserve your disdain for people who purposely set forest fires, people who litter, and for people who poach wildlife. Some people truly deserve our disgust.

    Instead of drawing separation between yourself and a very minute segment of female climbers and doing some subsequent estrogen-fueled chest-thumping, why not follow Rodney King's creed, "Can't we all just get along?"

  15. Donna CunninghamJuly 3, 2016 at 6:58 AM

    Couldn't agree more!! I am a 47 year old mother trying to trail run and stay fit . Not a super athlete like you but have one a few age group awards. And when I am at my most sweaty and tired and not so pretty , that is when I feel most beautiful and strong!! And my husband agrees. I save my naked beauty for the man who finds me beautiful when I think I am anything but that.

  16. I've enjoyed reading your blog because you sometimes exhibit a rawness and an authenticity that rocks my world.

    But when you and a few other people convey thoughts about women that would make the Taliban smile, maybe it's time for some additional self-examination and growth.

    It's hard to respect and/or be inspired by someone who does not respect others and sadly, that is where this line is being drawn/


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