By Mount Noire
Mount Noire is a travel community with a mission in mind: Bringing colour to the mountain. The company was founded in 2019 by five Black British women with a passion for skiing and snowboarding. We curate fuss free luxury winter sport experiences to encourage more black and ethnic minorities (BAME) to ski and snowboard. Our services include planning all-inclusive winter holidays, hosting social events in the UK and providing insight and awareness to Black and ethnic minorities interested in a predominantly white sport.
We started to ski individually while at university and our love for winter sports started then. We decided to plan a group trip to Chamonix, France which was amazing. Great slopes, great food, great views, simply great vibes- it was a dream. The most memorable part of the trip was how unique we were to the rest of the community. We were the only group of black people on the mountain. We actually only saw one other black male who ran up the slope to say hi as he was delighted to see other black skiers. We stood out as a group of five black women and not just because of our brightly coloured ski wear. On the resort our ski instructor pointed out to us that everyone in the queue for the chair lift was staring at us, which is not uncommon to experience as black person when travelling. What we didn’t expect were comments such as “I didn’t know black people could ski!” or “Who told you about skiing?” shortly followed by “can we take a picture with you?
It’s crazy to read that at the time of the civil rights protest in America 1973, a US newspaper shared a press release stating “black folks are coming to town”- they were talking about the national brotherhood of skiers’ summit in 1974. We’re in Europe and its 2020 and to be honest it hasn’t really changed. Sure, there aren’t any press releases, but we do still get looks and unwanted comments. We aim to break down these stereotypes.
After our first group trip to Chamonix founders Wenona Barnieh, Adeola Omotade, Blessing Ekairia, Simisola Oke and Tobi Adegboye were inundated with questions from friends and strangers who wanted to go on a ski trip the following year. This is when we decided we wanted to share our love for winter sports with others and bring people with us, particularly other black and ethnic minority individuals. Planning a ski trip can be daunting especially if you haven’t done it before. We were also aware that some BAME individuals may not have friends who are interested in skiing, so we wanted to create a travel community where you can come on an all-inclusive ski trip and have fun in the mountains with like-minded people.
Skiing and snowboarding have been portrayed as an exclusive white sport of which, historically, only individuals with a certain socioeconomic background experienced. In order to improve diversity in the ski industry it is important to improve participation amongst BAME individuals. In the UK snowsports are not the most accessible sports. There are several factors which contribute to this such as geography and expenses. Unfortunately, England has limited snow and therefore the ski resorts a few and far between as such the cumulative costs of travel to a resort in Europe can deter some BAME individuals. Mount Noire selects resorts which are affordable and cater to all abilities on the slopes. We also love a welcoming vibrant après ski atmosphere. We offer payment plans to spread the cost of the trip and make it more affordable. Within the UK we enjoy heading down to various snow centres. We hope to host a social event at the snow centre where people can try skiing or snowboarding.
This year has posed several challenges to the ski industry: The COVID-19 pandemic; the death of George Floyd; the global Black Lives Matter campaigns. The combination of these events has encouraged many industries to take a look at what they are doing to make a difference. The Ski industry is not exempt and there is more work to be done to improve diversity in snowsports. There is no simple solution however companies can ensure that they hire more diverse staff members. Representation is key, we don’t see many black or ethnic skiers on marketing campaigns or in the media. Skiing and snowboarding can be expensive; ski resorts should be looking at ways to help those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
As a group, we bonded over this lack of representation and wanted to see people like ourselves on the slopes, skiing, snowboarding, and having fun in the mountains. We fell in love with the sport and wish we did so earlier, who knows, we could have been on the GB ski team!
We stand out and we know we do; we pride ourselves on bringing colour to the mountain. Our community is growing and we want to see ourselves represented on the slopes. Join us on our next trip, we keep our website updated with upcoming events; please join our mailing list to stay up to date.