The first Women’s Bouldering Festival is set to take place this fall, in Fontainebleau, France, from September 21 to 24. The festival will include a route setting workshop, as well as three days of bouldering in Font, followed by a workshop on forest conservation.
Founded by Font-based climber Zofia Reych, the WBF’s website states, “The first international Women’s Bouldering Festival in Fontainebleau aims to be a platform that allows female climbers to meet like-minded individuals in our sport.” In an interview with Rock and Ice, Reych said, “When I started visiting the forest some seven years ago, I realized something very striking: the ratio of men to women at the crags is really bad! Obviously there are historical and sociological reasons for it, but I felt like it was important to do something about it. Being in the forest is a special experience and I want more women to feel like they belong here.”
The festival staff team hails from around the world, and is a diverse group made up of parkour practitioners, circus performers, firefighters and, of course, climbers. Climber’s Caroline Sinno, who has multiple 8B (V13) ascents to her name, and Alice Hafer, a former Blokfest champion, will be in attendance among other female crushers.
The workshop on Friday, September 21, which will be taught by a team of all-female routesetters at Karma Climbing Gym, is priced individually at 50 EUR (59 USD). The workshop will focus on “the basics of using tools, health and safety in routesetting for climbing and how to get your creativity going and set interesting problems.”
The festival itself (75 EUR/88 USD) is slated to run Saturday to Sunday, and includes two nights of forest camping at Les Prés, as well as a bouldering mentorship from local Font crushers, morning yoga sessions, afternoon parkour classes and evening talks and lectures.”
Women will be grouped by skill level and experience, and each group will have an experienced female climber assigned as a mentor. The festival is set to climb in the Franchard Isatis and Éléphant areas of Fontainebleau.
“I think some women might feel intimidated by outdoor bouldering, or they may feel a bit dependant on their male partners,” said Reych. “So, my main goal is to provide a platform where everybody can learn from one another. The second thing is that confidence in the outdoors really transfers to other areas of life; there are studies that prove it. So, by helping the female climbing community grow as climbers, we hope to help women grow within the broader society.”
The festival will end with an eight hour conservation workshop on Monday in partnership with the National Forests Office of France, which will include trail building and cleanup around the Fontainebleau area. Naturally, this portion of the event is free of charge, but space is limited, so registration is required. -Owen Clarke