Eleanor Davis in 1927.

On August 27, 1923, Eleanor Davis, the Director of Physical Education for Women at Colorado College, did something no woman before her had ever done: she stood atop the Grand Teton.

One hundred years later, The Teton Climbers’ Coalition will mark Davis’ accomplishment with a year-long celebration of women in the mountains.

Today, female ascents of the Grand are common in winter and in summer, by alpinists, ski mountaineers, and guides alike. Just this past summer, the Jackson Hole High School Mountaineering Club had all female teams of students and guides summiting the Grand for the first time.

But in 1923, mountaineering by women was far from the norm.

“As a woman in the early Twentieth Century, [Davis] was defying social and physical expectations for women by attempting to reach the summits of high and difficult mountains,” Andrew Wallace wrote in A History of Outdoor Recreation at Colorado College.

The nonprofit climbing organization will kick off the centennial on January 13 and 14th with AlpinFilm, its new mountain film festival. During the event, a panel discussion hosted by TCC board members Sheila Reddy, Morgan McGlashon and Marian Meyers will explore the past, present and future of women in the mountains, followed by two days of films, many of which will feature female adventurers. 

Where the centennial goes from there is, in part, up to the Teton community. All-female ascents of the Grand on the date of the centennial and scholarships that support female mentorship are just two of the ideas bubbling up around the anniversary celebration.

“There’s a lot to celebrate about progress to date,” said Sheila Reddy, “and a lot more work to be done as well to support women in the mountains.”

“We’re looking forward to hearing more ideas from Teton women about the centennial,” she said, “and to making 2023 a year to remember.”