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How a week of female-only skiing cleared my head

Helly Hansen's Women's Camps offer more than just perfecting your skiing skills

Hollie Brotherton
Lifestyle & Commerce Senior Writer
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Heading outside and stepping out of your comfort zone are two tried and tested ways to get out of your own head. So when I was invited to spend a week skiing in the Whistler mountains during December, in a winter slump and with spring depressingly out of sight, I jumped at the chance.

Located two hours north of Vancouver in Canada, Whistler Blackcomb is admittedly less convenient than taking a trip across the channel to the French Alps, but it still attracts huge numbers from the UK.

Two separate mountains now connected by a Peak-2-Peak gondola, Whistler and Blackcomb merged to create North America’s largest ski and snowboarding resort in 1997. Famous for its epic runs, stunning scenery and A-List crowds, just this month Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hit the slopes there as a part of the 2025 Invictus Games One Year to Go events.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Invictus Games Vancouver Whistlers 2025's One Year To Go Winter Training Camp on February 14, 2024 in Whistler, British Columbia.© Getty Images
Harry and Meghan were in Whistler for an Invictus Games event

But Whistler offers so much more than celebrity clientele. Case in point? Helly Hansen’s Women’s Camps. I’d only been skiing once before, and knowing I'd be surrounded by like-minded women made getting back into my boots that bit less daunting. The two-day ski camps cater to all levels, so whether you’re a total beginner or you want to refine your skills on Saudan's Couloir, North America's first ever double black run, you can do so within a girls-only group with one of the top female coaches.

Designed to create a safe and motivating environment, it definitely takes the pressure off. The groups are based on skill level, with no more than six people in each.

I was with just two others, which at times felt like private tuition. Both women had been skiing before but wanted to improve to keep up with their kids or the teenagers in their family, and we very quickly built on our skills. There was zero competition between us and having that mutual support when you’re gearing up to take on a daunting run is invaluable. In that kind of environment, it’s almost impossible not to very quickly make friends and the days fly by, finishing with as much or as little après ski as you like.

Skiing Whistler© Michael Overbeck
These stunning views were the backdrop to our skiing lessons on Whistler

My confidence grew so much in just two days, the morning following the camps I was skiing runs with other journalists and ski patrollers that were so far beyond where I started 48-hours earlier. We took to the slopes at sunrise and were greeted with clear blue skies and incredible views, that showcased exactly why people take the 12-hour trip from London.

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Being decked out in Helly Hansen kit undoubtably helped and despite the sub-zero temperatures (and my usual inability to cope with the cold), I found wearing three layers was perfect for me. I wore the Merino Wool Base Layers and the Verglas Hooded Down Hybrid Insulator, with the Elevation Infinity 3.0 Jacket and the Women’s Bellissimo 2 Ski Pants on top.

Wearing Helly Hansen meant never worrying about my kit© @holliebrotherton
Wearing Helly Hansen meant one less thing to have to think about

Anna Combe, one of the instructors who is originally from the UK, told me she loves working on the camps for the strong connection she makes with the women: "Everyone has a background, a story and a reason to be there," she said. "It's a privilege to get to spend the weekend getting to know an awesome group of women and to help them conquer their fears and step out of their comfort zone."

If you're a seasoned skier and heading to Whistler, she says the mountain is like a giant playground: "Even if its your first time skiing you're set to have a very special day, but if you head higher up you'll find the famous Whistler Bowls. Think trees, powder, drops and chutes."

Her personal recommendations? "I'd head straight up Peak Chair and get a few Whistler Bowl laps in, before heading over to Sun Bowl and then down to Symphony Chair to try out the steep powdery lines off Flute Summit. Blackcomb is like the cool sibling that does its own thing with nothing to prove. You could cruise around the blue runs there on Crystal before stopping for waffles at the legendary Crystal Hut."

Despite an array of fun bars and restaurants (with Earls being a personal highlight), and no shortage of red wine or tequila, after a week in the fresh mountain air, my head had never felt clearer. I'm usually a beach holiday kind of girl, but would jump at the chance to go back and progress through the groups.

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