The Power of Sisterhood – Women’s Climbing Festivals, Clinics and Resources

The last few years have witnessed an explosion in the abundance and attendance of women’s-only groups, forums, clinics, festivals and vacations.

Member Exclusive

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great benefits.


Already a member?

Sign In

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.


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.


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 acts to promote and empower women through outdoor adventure. offers women’s-only courses and vacations for rock, ice, mixed and alpine climbing. hosts women’s-only trad climbing events led by Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides. is a European company offering several women’s-only courses led by professional female climbers and guides. offers women’s crack climbing clinics in Moab. archives Chicks’ Corner columns, written by leading women climbers on subjects such as how to dyno, build powercrack climbing tips, stay warm while climbing, and how to belay a heavier partner (see full index of article on left). is a thriving platform to help female climbers
connect and be inspired. provides skills courses for women to help them be safe and build confidence in the backcountry. provides online climbing resources for women. has a Ladies’ Room forum for women to share experiences and ask questions in a well- moderated environment. 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.