Photos by Julian Rohn, Claudia Ziegler 

Munich Mountain Girls is an all-female community of outdoor enthusiasts who meet regularly IRL and online to share in their extraordinary passions for various mountain-involved activities. Beyond the fresh air, the vibrant atmosphere and beautiful scenery, Munich Mountain Girls is an important community in Germany that provides real-life opportunities to connect impassioned women of all ages or backgrounds, with a shared fondness for getting out into Mother Nature. MMG is a completely organically formed group of now thousands of women that continues to inspire like-minded women to build relationships, grow and get active in the community and beyond.

Take it from their founder: cyclist, hiker, yin yoga teacher and digital strategist Christine Prechsl, who developed this idea spontaneously in 2016. We spoke with Christine as well as key member Kaddi Kestler about the core vision for MMG, growing together while being outdoors and what’s next for their community.

First off, how did MMG get started?

I was in a sabbatical in summer of 2016 and started many different (digital) projects as I always did my whole life – building blogs, trying new ideas, writing, being creative… this is all me. Then the phrase “Munich Mountain Girls” appeared in my head, as I was one myself. I found it interesting and started an Instagram account just to play around. I searched for other women in Munich who love being outside and in the mountains, and I reposted their pictures. Then I wanted to know more: what do they like about mountains, where do they love most to go, where do they live in the city, etc. I proposed these interview questions to the women and got wonderful answers, so I built a blog by myself (template as uncool as the website is today :D) and put the interviews online.

Each week, I published a new interview and the women got more and more interested in each other. So I organized the first “Stammtisch” in March 2017. Fifteen women came and it was all about gear talk, getting to know each other and finding new friends. Since then, we do monthly meet-ups, also according to topics, like Mountainbike Stammtisch, Roadbike Stammtisch, Climbing – and also Mommy + Mountains Stammtisch – I want the whole range of women-related topics and also each and every age to be included. So there is also a group with women who are older than 60.

Munich Mountain Girls don’t give priority to performance; women becoming friends in the mountains, going outside because nature is the best soul food, having fun doing sports is much more important. It is all about community. Being passionate, sometimes being alone, but also enjoying other women as company in your own challenges and supporting each other to reach the next peak that you have always had on your bucket list.

Almost 4,000 women are now in the Munich Mountain Girls community. They are connected with each other through our Facebook group. They post their plans and find each other virtually to go to the mountains together. We enrich their experience with special MMG collaborations and events to support and empower them even more. The heart of this community are thirteen women, who are my team and supporting me. Each of them has their own sport as speciality – like Kaddi, who is in the community from the very first moment.

How do you find managing a community that’s both digital and IRL? Are there any advantages and disadvantages to the digital aspect?

I find it especially satisfying to connect women first digitally through pictures of their passions, to inspire them – and then bringing them together in real life, so that true friendships can be formed. It’s just awesome each time, when I see photos of women being friends now and in the mountains together – and having found each other through MMG.

How do you keep people engaged?

Actually, I do not have to do much in keeping them engaged – they show their plans in the group by themselves and get comments and messages from others willing to go together. They connect and are very active, which is great. The purpose of the community is to find new friends for your next trip, evening hike or bigger adventure in the mountains.

Are there any commercial elements to MMG?

Yes, we co-operate with a few brands, who have the same values and focus on a long-term basis. We also have collaborations with special regions in the mountains to bring “empowerment” campaigns to life, like the one with Wilder Kaiser. In this cooperation we give women the chance to develop from zero to success in climbing or trail running camps. Also, we partner with DAV (Deutscher Alpenverein) sections in Munich to focus on sustainability and environmental topics, among other things.

What are some of the greatest successes you’ve experienced since you founded MMG?

A wonderful event was “Kauflokal 2019“, where three of the eldest and biggest stores in Munich made space in their shops to feature local brands. We were supported by Sporthaus Schuster, hosted community events at Alpina Bar in the Schuster building and were featured in the biggest window of the shop, next to the apple store, for two weeks: The MUNICH MOUNTAIN GIRLS COMMUNITY was displayed with photos, personal stories etc. That visibility for the community right in the busy city center of Munich, that was great and I am very thankful for the support by Sporthaus Schuster, with which we are very close now.

Also the TV episode of the legendary mountaineering show “Bergauf Bergab“ at Bayerischer Rundfunk was a huge success and I couldn’t believe it at first – that they want to make a whole film about the MMG community. It was published in April 2019 and I am very proud and honored by that.

Still from Bergauf Bergab, April 2019

What are some of the biggest surprises you’ve had over the last three years?

The TV show and the huge support of Sporthaus Schuster of course, then the overall relevance of the community to other women who want to connect to find new mountain friends… Originally, I am from the fashion industry and wasn’t aware that women-related topics were that important for outdoor industry. It was somehow luck and coincidence to be able to build such a success story and support all those women.

With all the mountains you climb, have you had any sketchy or dangerous situations or accidents?

Christine: Actually I do not do any trips that could bring me in my panic zone. I study descriptions very precisely before going and am well prepared by the requirements. Some moments where you need to be concentrated and out of your comfort zone are good and you learn with each one of them – but I am not the kind of person who is super adventurous and searches for the next adrenalin kick. I am more of the well-being and nature-enjoying kind of outdoor woman. I don’t need action and risk.

Kaddi: I’m into freeride skiing and mountainbiking, and when it comes to sports like these, it’s quite normal to be injured some day, even when you behaved responsibly and carefully all the time. I dislocated my elbow while biking some years ago and needed an operation afterwards. But that’s just part of the game and better than a boring life. ☺

What are some of your goals for the future of MMG? Do you see the community being the base for other things?

I have many plans and visions for the community. They all build on the ideas of #bergfreundinnen (mountain friends) and “bringing more women to the mountains and great outdoors“.

How would you explain the core vision behind MMG? Has it changed or developed over time?

Christine: The core vision is bringing women together who are passionate about the mountains, doing mountain sports and spending their time in the great outdoors. You don’t have to be super sporty or an expert – we focus on encouraging normal women to experience mountains on their level and as they wish: may it be just for the best food in the next hut, for sundowner views, for sleeping outside or the steepest line they find with their skis. For their adventures, they can find other passionate and likeminded women who may to experience the same tour together, maybe also to learn from others and encourage each other, stepping out of comfort zones and learning new skills. Briefly: Women empowerment in nature and in the mountains.

Kaddi: I’m not born and raised in the mountains and never had any female friends to go biking or skiing with on a certain level. Through the Munich Mountain Girls community, I got to know a lot of strong female athletes. For every man it is just normal to have a bunch of guys, a clique for mountain sports. Women often just have their boyfriends or husbands, which is cool if it works, but it’s something totally different. Never will forget last winter, when six Munich Mountain Girls skiers shredded one of the sickest powder days and everybody in the ski resort was just like: ‘Huh, what’s going on over there? Six girls? Crazy!’. For me, that is so inspiring, so satisfying. Best time ever.

What are the biggest takeaways when it comes to women and mountain sports? What stands out most?

Christine: I don’t like clichés. But in my experience, most of the women enjoy mountains differently than men. They think long way before the trip what could go wrong, where they might be anxious, where difficulties could arise etc… Most of the men just go and experience it. They also do not talk about their insecurities, when there are some. Many women like to talk about what’s going on inside and like to grow together, go together through challenges and celebrate their success together. In good and like-minded female company, they feel kind of at home, they feel secure – and for many of them, it’s easier to step out of their comfort zone and push their limits.

Kaddi: For me, it is a lot about role models. We need more strong female role models, who walk their path, no matter what others, society, or whoever is thinking. Like Girls Are Awesome, Munich Mountain Girls gives women a stage. Women who show: you don’t need to be a pro, but you can just go and enjoy the mountains on your level. If you want to do crazy and extreme stuff, train and try it. You can do whatever you want. There are so many women out there doubtful about living their dreams. Let’s show them it’s possible! Let’s help each other and get better and grow on every level!

What’s the best part about working with MMG?

I personally love bringing visions to life. I have many ideas – what could be the next innovation or project out there that enables women to experience the mountains, find new mountain friends and spend more time outside. Also, I love working with my team. All of them, all thirteen in the core team, are such cool, driven and awesome women. I feel honored to be able to create something that valuable in other women’s life. Thank you to all the women out there being in the community! <3

Finally, will we see you at Slay Days 2020??

Maybe there will be women in the community who love to be there, sure!

Cool – thanks, Christine, Kaddi and the MMG crew!