Photo Credit: Mount Noire
How Mount Noire Is Bringing Color To The Mountain And Promoting Diversity In Snow Sports
There’s a travel community dedicated to improving diversity on the slopes: Mount Noire. Its founders are five Black British women from London: Wenona Barnieh (31), a doctor; Tobi Adegboye (31), who works in HR; Simisola Oke (29), a doctor; Blessing Ekairia (30), a management consultant; and Adeola Omotade (30), also a doctor.
“Our company encourages Black and ethnic minorities to ski and snowboard through promoting bold imagery on our social media. We plan and host group ski trips in Europe,” said Wenona. “We also consult on IDE marketing to help brands increase the representation of Black and minority individuals on the slopes.”
How it All Started
The five ladies attended the same university, where most of them were introduced to skiing through their college ski club. Like most of us, it was not a sport they were exposed to as children, however hearing their friends talk about the fun they’d had skiing and snowboarding, they decided to try it out.
“At the time, we could not understand the concept of opting to go on a winter holiday. However, in 2019, we planned a girls’ trip to Chamonix; it was the first time we skied as a group. This was the best trip, full of laughter and memories. “
One of the most memorable aspects of the trip was the attention the friends received on the slopes being a group of Black girls. They had people approach them inquiring about how they started skiing and several people also asked to take pictures with them.
“After the ski trip, we had a positive reception to posting our holiday photos on Instagram. We had so many of our friends asking questions and asking to go with us on our next trip. We all enjoyed the sport after our first individual trips, however, after skiing as a group of like-minded people, we all fell in love with it.”
A Need For Diversity
Recognizing the lack of diversity and the need for a community of minorities centered around skiing, the ladies formed Mount Noire with the goal of creating a space for anyone to feel comfortable when putting themselves out of their comfort zone.
“We realized that some people may not have anyone interested in trying skiing and therefore, travel groups like Mount Noire provide a great way to make new friends with similar interests. There is also so much to consider when planning a ski trip, we aim to create a fuss-free experience so you can just focus on the sport and having a great time in the mountains.”
Mount Noire hosts trips throughout Europe. The group loves skiing in the French Alps and the Dolomites. Chamonix is a favorite destination for the ladies since it is where they decided to start the company. In the future, they would like to ski in the USA and Japan.
“We love the atmosphere on the mountain, the breathtaking views, and the adrenaline rush you get as you ski down. We also love ski fashion and après-ski culture. You can also have some of the best spa experiences in the mountains.”
There are several reasons people of color may shy away from skiing. A big one is the stereotypes and barriers around skiing. The location of ski resorts also plays a role, as does the cost of trips and lack of exposure.
“We often get told by some Black people that skiing isn’t for them because it’s something middle-class or rich white people do. The representation of Black people skiing or snowboarding needs to improve and brands need to do more to show this.”
The group’s upcoming trips include the Mount Noire Ski Weekender, which is taking place January 12-15 in Borovets, Bulgaria, and Mount Noire Luxe Ski Week March 25- April 1 in Val Thorens, France.
“Our Ski Weekender is perfect for anyone who wants a short ski experience to try it out for the first time. For our Luxe Ski Week, we plan an exciting week filled with activities and the ultimate soft life experience. This trip is perfect to get you skiing and snowboarding confidently.”
Anyone with any level of skiing is welcome to join Mount Noire trips and indoor ski events. The group hosts a mixed group of individuals, and solo travelers are welcome.
“Everyone who joins us has a great vibe and is friendly and welcoming. If you would like to join us on a trip or event you can book via our website. By signing up for our mailing list, you will be kept updated.”
Even when hitting the slopes as a newbie with no experience, there is no need to worry. Ski resorts are designed so that visitors only ski on the slopes suited for their particular skill level.
“If you are new to skiing, you will be taught on the bunny slopes. The color of the run indicates how challenging it may be. Green and blue slopes are the easiest. Red and black runs are for intermediate/advanced skiers, so make sure you look at a map and plan your route to avoid red or black slopes.”