For years, the historical notion around Black people and snow has been the consensus that we don’t ski. Thanks to London-based ski travel company Mount Noire, the startup is working to bring more Black representation to the slopes.
Following trips with some of her close college friends and avid skiers — Tobi Adegboye, Wenona Barnieh, Blessing Ekairia, Simisola Oke, and Adeola Omotade — Oke and her group bonded over the relatable experiences of the many stares from others while on the ski slopes.
After a ski trip to Chamonix, France back in 2018, Adegboye recalled being asked, “What are you girls doing here, I didn’t know Black people skied?”
“It is very common while traveling as a Black person to be asked to pose in a photograph with strangers,” she explained to Condé Nast Traveler. “That happened a few times on the slopes.”
Their love for travel encouraged Adegboye, Oke and their friends to create Mount Noire — a boutique winter sport travel agency — in December 2019 with a mission to “bring color to the mountains” by offering inclusive experiences and a space for all travelers to enjoy skiing and snowboarding, Condé Nast Traveler reports.
— MountNoire (@MountNoireldn) September 26, 2020
Barnieh shared with Condé Nast Traveler that the numerous requests for ski trip tips and resort recommendations “highlighted that a lot of people in our community were interested in winter sports—and that we could support [them] by making access to this experience easier.”
“We also recognized that there are other skiers and snowboarders like us out there and thought how great would it be if we could all come together on the slopes,” she added.
The reignited Black Lives Matter protests last summer emphasized how much the outdoor sports industry lacks diversity for Black and people of color.
“When you look at ski magazines or brands, it’s not very often that you see people who are Black or other ethnic minorities,” Barnieh told Condé Nast Traveler. “Although there now seems to be a more concerted effort to change that in recent months, we need Black [and] ethnic skiers visible in marketing campaigns and in the media.”
Mount Noire is a direct result of this idea that we need more representation and now the company is aiming to disrupt the industry with what they feel is the correct picture we should be painting.
“Mount Noire reminds you that you are welcome in all spaces,” Adegboye shared with CNN, “no matter what your background or heritage is.”
Though skiing is not an inexpensive activity, Mount Noire acknowledges this and has a plan to roll out an outreach program to make the sport more accessible to those in lower socio-economic communities, CNN reports.
The startup is following in the footsteps of the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) in which they are empowering and inspiring a new generation of young Black people and people of color to take up the sport of skiing.
Mount Noire’s goal is to change those “uncomfortable experiences” for Black skiers and turn them into memorable moments all while paving the way for a more inclusive future.
For more information on Mount Noire, visit their website.