This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 244 (August 2017).
Mayan Smith-Gobat and Ines Papert in Patagonia. The big-wall trad team of Kate Rutherford and Madaleine Sorkin. The bouldering duo Shauna Coxsey and Leah Crane. As the minority gender in climbing, women tend to bond
over the empowerment and sense of community in our sport, forming strong friendships and producing some of the most accomplished, badass climbing partnerships out there.
Dawn Glanc, a professional mixed climber and mountain guide, articulated it perfectly in Chris Noble’s book “Women Who Dare”: “So there’s a compassion and sense of sisterhood that women climbers celebrate together and that brings a whole new element to our climbing experience.”
For many women, fear of social evaluation and other anxieties are hurdles in climbing, but many find they build confidence and learn better in the company of other women. Furthermore, ongoing research, originally published in Psychological Review in 2000, indicates that hanging with our sisters leads to the release of oxytocin, a calming hormone that promotes friendship and reduces stress—bonus!
The last few years have witnessed an explosion in the abundance and attendance of women’s-only groups, forums, clinics, festivals and vacations. These organizations aim to curtail the anxieties that can limit female participation in climbing and to help women learn new skills and develop together. Climbing with other women can help show us what we are capable of, and in a sport as dually athletic and psychological as climbing, that’s priceless.
TAPPING INTO WOMEN’S NETWORKS
1. Take a women’s-only vacation or course. Numerous organizations offer
women’s-only rock, alpine and ice climbing vacations and coaching courses throughout the United States and around the world.
2. Inquire at your gym. Most gyms offer women’s coaching or have designated
evenings when women can meet to climb.
3. Check out women’s-specific clinics at festivals for gear demos, climbing-skills workshops and networking.
4. Use social media or Google to find women’s climbing groups in your area.
There are hundreds of groups across the country that meet regularly.
WOMEN’S FESTIVALS AND WOMEN’S CLINICS
Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival
Chattanooga, TN (Nov. 10–13, 2017).
Women’s Climbing Symposium
Bristol, U.K. (Nov. 4, 2017).
American Alpine Club Craggin’ Classics Series
Smith Rock, OR (Sept. 15–17, 2017).
New River Gorge, WV (Sept. 22–24, 2017).
Devil’s Lake, WI (Oct. 13–15, 2017).
Shelf Road, CO (Oct. 20–22, 2017).
Moab, UT (Oct. 27–29, 2017).
Bishop, CA (Nov. 3–5, 2017).
Bozeman Ice Fest
Bozeman, MT (Dec. 6–10, 2017)
Ouray Ice Festival
Ouray, CO (Jan. 18–22, 2018).
Michigan Ice Fest
Munising, MI (Feb. 14–18, 2018).
Red Rock Rendezvous
Las Vegas, NV (March 16–19, 2018).
International Climbers’ Festival
Lander, WY (July 11–15, 2018).
WOMEN’S ONLINE RESOURCES
Outdoorwomensalliance.com acts to promote and empower women through outdoor adventure.
Chickwithpicks.net offers women’s-only courses and vacations for rock, ice, mixed and alpine climbing.
Chickswithnuts.com hosts women’s-only trad climbing events led by Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides.
Rockbusters.net is a European company offering several women’s-only courses led by professional female climbers and guides.
Stephdavis.co offers women’s crack climbing clinics in Moab.
Rockandice.com/climbing-tips-for-women archives Chicks’ Corner columns, written by leading women climbers on subjects such as how to dyno, build power, crack climbing tips, stay warm while climbing, and how to belay a heavier partner (see full index of article on left).
Flashfoxy.com is a thriving platform to help female climbers
connect and be inspired.
Backcountrybabes.com provides skills courses for women to help them be safe and build confidence in the backcountry.
Womenclimbing.com provides online climbing resources for women.
Alpenglowcollective.co is a networking forum to help women and trans climbers find partners with similar interests and goals. Alpenglow Collective seeks to push the outdoor industry beyond the existing cis-normative narrative it employs.