Girls on Rock

Girls on Rock

Girls on Rock is a unique, FREE, wilderness science education programs for high school girls.

Girls on Rock is a unique, FREE, wilderness science education programs for high school girls. Each summer a team of 8-9 teenage girls and 3 instructors spend 12 days exploring and learning about the alpine landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. They conduct scientific field studies with our team of professional glaciologists, ecologists, mountain guides, and artists.

As part of Inspiring Girls Expeditions, our purpose is to give girls a feeling for the processes that create the natural world and provide an environment that fosters the critical thinking necessary to all scientific inquiry. We encourage the girls to observe and think like scientists by making observations and inferences. They develop their own experiments to test ideas and answer questions.

The girls on the team also challenge themselves and gain self-confidence in their physical, intellectual, and social abilities. An Inspiring Girls Expedition is the science version of a “language immersion” experience – where we connect science with all aspects of daily life with the goal of creating lifelong advocates for Earth science, specifically, and the scientific process as a whole, regardless of whether or not they decide to specialize in science in college.

The wilderness setting and single gender field team inspires young women’s interest in science and provides a challenging environment that increases their physical and intellectual self-confidence.

We focus on creating a diverse team, and emphasize providing this experience to those girls who might not otherwise be able to have an opportunity like this. 

Contact (email pending)

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Girls on Rock 2018

Explore the Gore Range!

Are you curious to know what forces shape our mountains? Do you want to understand how tiny plants can thrive under the harsh conditions found at high elevations? Have you always wanted to climb a real summit in the Rocky Mountains? Girls on Rock will take you into Colorado’s breath-taking Gore Range to explore towering rock walls, deep-blue lakes, and lush alpine meadows in the heart of the Rockies. With the support and guidance of ecologists, geologists, and a professional mountain guide, the Gore Range offers a unique place to develop scientific and outdoor leadership skills and answer some of these questions.


(subject to change)

Day 1-2: Meet the team in Boulder, CO and learn about traveling and camping in the mountains.
Day 3: Drive to trailhead and hike in to the Gore Range to establish the base camp.
Day 4-9: Explore the Gore Range surrounding the base camp while gaining essential mountaineering and climbing skills and working on science projects.
Day 10: Hike out and travel back.
Day 11: Wrap up science experiments and present results in short presentations.
Day 12: Final reflection activities and travel home.


Megan Blanchard

Megan Blanchard, E-Bio, chemical ecologist

I am a PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder, where I spend my time collecting wildflower seeds in the beautiful Colorado mountains and performing chemical extractions in the lab.  As a chemical ecologist, I am trying to find out how seeds use toxic chemicals as defense against being eaten.  I also find myself in the mountains to hike, camp, climb, and ski.

I developed my love of mountains in an unlikely place, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  A group of dedicated volunteers in the Explorer’s Club of Pittsburgh taught me about the joy, freedom, empowerment, and community you can find in remote and challenging landscapes.  Most importantly, they taught me that when you love something so much, you just have to share it with others!  That’s why I have been so excited to help develop Girls on Rock, to share the experience of doing science in the mountains with more awesome girls.  I am most looking forward to seeing what a team of motivated girls can accomplish when given the opportunity.

Evelyn Cheng

Evelyn Cheng, CU E-bio graduate, ecologist 

I was once a flatlander from Austin, Texas. Alone after school, I found myself drawing countless pictures of the same desert scenes. Though I had not ever seen in them in person, I always used the same formula: distant mountains, barren ground, bright sun. I hadn’t yet learned to ask the kinds of questions by which I am now fascinated: “Why do we often find mountains near the desert? How do the two ecosystems interact?” I simply drew them because I loved their shapes. As I watched my hometown grow into a bustling boomtown of technology, I grew as well. I learned how to climb rocks at the modest local cliffs and started wondering more about the rest of the world. After finishing my undergraduate degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Texas, I packed my bags and answered the call to move west. Since then I have lived, climbed, and worked all over the western states, finally getting to know intimately the desert landscapes of which I had so frequently dreamed. As an ecologist at the United States Geological Survey, I researched the impacts of grazing and climate change on plant and animal communities in arid environments. I completed a master’s degree at the University of Colorado Boulder, where I studied the ecology of ephemeral rock pools in the desert. Some of the pools were located at the summits of isolated 300-foot towers, so it was often necessary to use ropes and climbing gear in order to reach them… This is how Girls on Rock was born! Once I learned about the Inspiring Girls Expeditions and met the amazing women behind them, I knew that I wanted to start a program that connected technical rock climbing skills to science. It is always amazing to work with such motivated women on a common goal, and I’m extremely excited to share that experience with future Girls on Rock participants in the Rocky Mountains.

Chris Carr

Chris Carr, University of Alaska Fairbanks, glaciologist

In my mind, the “Inspiring Girls” community is perfectly named. Our mission is to inspire girls, and in turn, we are lucky enough to meet, interact, and learn from these inspiring girls.

One of the earliest times I heard about Girls on Ice was during a presentation by the co-founders of Girls on Ice Alaska after their first expedition in the summer of 2012. I had heard about Girls on Ice before, but seeing fellow glaciology graduate students in leadership roles inspired me to get involved. I first volunteered with Girls on Ice in 2012 when I helped with the website and online application system. I continued helping behind the scenes until 2016, when I had the privilege to instruct for the Girls on Ice Cascades expedition.  I am looking forward to instructing for the 2017 Girls on Ice Alaska expedition.

I bring to the Inspiring Girls team my excitement for the earth sciences. As anyone who has ever been outside with me knows, I am forever fascinated by landscape processes, geologic history, volcanoes, glaciers, sediment transport, and of course, rocks. I received a B.S. in geology and an M.S. in earth sciences from Montana State University, and am currently a geophysics Ph.D. candidate with a glaciology specialty at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. These studies have provided me with the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in many of the western US states, Alaska, British Columbia, Svalbard, Mexico, Argentina, and even Antarctica. Through Inspiring Girls, I hope to help young women find their footing in the outdoors and in science.

I enjoy teaching – one of my favorite feelings is watching the “aha!” moments when someone figures out some new thing or makes a new connection between concepts. I will never tire of the great reward of hearing about the success of my former students.

Outside of my research and instructing for Girls on Ice, I love rambling through the mountains with friends and running long distances on trails, preferably with my adventure buddy, Nuna dog.

Mylene J

Mylène Jacquemart, CIRES / CU Geosciences, geomorphologist

Growing up hiking and climbing in the Swiss Alps I developed a deep love for the mountains early on. I quickly became aware of the stunning changes reshaping the glaciated landscapes I had come to adore. Today I study these changes, in particular how the danger from rock fall and landslides is increasing in mountain areas around the world. To this day, the mountains are where I recharge my batteries and I've developed a soft spot for climbing frozen waterfalls. My most powerful mountain experiences are most often in all-female teams, which is why I immediately jumped at the opportunity to support Inspiring Girls Expeditions. Currently, I am a PhD student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where I have joined the team to get Girls on Rock started in Colorado.

Lyra Pierotti

Lyra Pierotti

My career in the outdoors started during college, when I worked as a guide and instructor for several environmental and experiential education organizations. After completing my B.S. in Biology, with emphasis in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, at U.C. San Diego, the allure and challenge of technical mountain guiding proved stronger than my passion for science. Through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), I became a Certified Rock Guide, and have continued my education in the Alpine discipline. I have also cultivated an awareness of risk management and complex decision making in the mountains through my work as an Avalanche Instructor for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE).

As a mountain guide, I have lead international and polar expeditions, guided steep rock and alpine climbs, and scenic backcountry ski tours. I have climbed volcanic ice towers with scientists in Antarctica to sample gasses, and worked and trained as a Search and Rescue professional in New Zealand and Antarctica. To balance my career, both physically and mentally, I also work as a freelance writer, specializing in science and outdoor-related topics, especially gear reviews for OutdoorGearLab. My work with scientists in Antarctica showed me the importance of educating and empowering girls in science. As part of the Girls On Ice team, I hope to help girls develop physical and mental skills that can improve their confidence as they navigate the challenging and diverse world of field sciences

Team 2018

Meet this year's Girls on Rock expedition team! (Team members are being added as they complete their paperwork):

Yareli Herrera

Yareli Herrera:

Yareli lives in the city of San Diego, California, though she possesses deeper familial roots in the beautiful, rugged terrain of Oaxaca, Mexico. She is known to be warm and caring, and a leader in her community. Deriving peace from both urban settings and wild places, Yareli is a talented painter, baker, and basketball player. She aspires to pursue a career in which she can continue helping others.

Jessi FIgard

Jessi Figard:

Jessi is from Davidson, North Carolina. Having been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, she once spent an entire year in a wheelchair. She persevered, nonetheless, and now coaches and competes in track and field. Jessica loves dance, photography, and gardening, and she sometimes expresses her love through baking. She takes great care of the people in her life and aspires to one day serve in the Applied Sciences division of the U.S. Air Force.

Program Team

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