Women In Climbing

I am a woman, and I climb.

I love women in climbing. I have so many fantastic and inspiring female climber friends in my life. I feel empowered every time I meet a female climber who is out there doing her thing, climbing in whatever way is best for her. For many years I led the “Ladies Night” at The Boulders Climbing Gym, and I had the pleasure of teaching “Women in Bouldering” at The Hive for a year… Through both I was inspired constantly by the drive and ambition of such powerful female characters who were psyched to push themselves and their climbing abilities.

I also love my climbing boys. I feel SO lucky as a woman to have Graham as my incredibly supportive life partner, in addition to many wonderfully supportive male friends. No matter how “hard” or “well” I am climbing, I am always treated like an equal in my climbing circle. To all my climbing friends, male, female and everything in between: you are all rad. Our gender doesn’t matter.

Coming from such a positive climbing environment, I was appalled recently by a comment that was made publicly by a (well known) climber at the Acephale Crag in the Bow Valley. This male person was climbing a route and experiencing some difficulty about mid way. His friends below were offering beta, and he exclaimed that he didn’t want to do it the “effeminate weak way”, but would rather find some masculine burly way. My jaw dropped. I had been watching him climb up until that moment, but proceeded to walk away, hurt and embarrassed. I responded “Oh I’m not offended” in a sarcastic tone, but immediately regretted it, wishing I had taken the opportunity to tell him off. Fortunately none of his friends condoned the comment…thankfully they are from the 21st century.

I wanted to tell this person that his comment was thoughtless. That it was extremely hurtful. That it was destructive to women in climbing. That implying females are weak, in climbing or in general, strips women of their empowerment. That as a well known person in the climbing community that others look up to, he was setting a terrible example. Instead I fought back tears, confided in my male friends, and stayed as far away from him as possible. The climbing at Acephale is stout and difficult, and I was one of only two females present at the crag that day amidst several male climbers. How on earth did he think that would make us feel?

Thank you to Graham, Dan, Tristan and Cory for your wonderfully supportive comments after I shared with you this story. Gender discrimination is not cool. It doesn’t matter if we are male, female, queer, etc… we deserve to be treated equal. Empowerment in climbing for all.

Later on the male person mentioned he has kids… I sure as hell hope someone is helping him with the lessons he is passing along. If he has daughters, I hope they don’t grow up believing they are of a weaker gender, and if he has sons, I hope they don’t grow up treating girls as lesser.
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Finally, here are just a few of the awesome bad-ass climber chicks in my life that inspire me every day. 

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