How did I get on at the Women’s Climbing Symposium?
I talk about my WCS experience and what I got out of it. Read on to find out about my journey.
I’ve been climbing indoors and out, for around 5 years, but overhangs and climbs requiring any arm muscles have always intimidated me. It’s never been an area I have felt comfortable pushing myself, so I took this opportunity to push myself at the Women’s Climbing Symposium and put the ‘Steep Climbing’ workshop at the top of my list.
Steep Climbing Heaven??
In the morning workshop, we split into ‘complete beginners’ and ‘everyone else’. I discovered ‘everyone else’ was miles ahead of me, but glancing over to the beginners’ group confirmed that I wouldn’t have been challenged there. I ended the workshop feeling defeated and in over my head. It left me wondering: is an intermediate level being overlooked? Looking back on the event now, I’m glad I pushed myself, and perhaps the Head Games workshop would have helped me deal with my seeming lack of ability that day.
After the challenging first half of the day, I was looking forward to my second workshop: Yoga with Sandra Berlin. And I wasn’t disappointed!
Yoga with Sandra
The class was welcoming, relaxing but challenging and achievable; exactly what I needed. Yoga and climbing go hand in hand for me – they complement each other in terms of building strength and stretching your flexibility, but yoga also provides such a calm head-space when climbing sometimes takes its toll. Sandra was wonderful at guiding us through what helps, what to focus on and sharing her story of how yoga helped her. I heartily recommend yoga, particularly Sandra’s yoga class.
My WCS – the Verdict
For me, WCS was to explore climbing and individuals as climbers and their journeys. WCS was an opportunity to connect to a community that, instead of focussing on how many pull ups you can do on one pinky finger, focusses on why people climb, what climbing means to people and how they perceive the sport. To me, this is an important part of opening climbing up as a sport for all.
It was refreshing to hear women talk unapologetically about their talents, careers and their competitive nature, especially from the perspective of competitive climbers. However, the keynote talks all followed the similar path of competitive climbing and even hinted at the encouraged animosity between female competitors, something which isn’t prevalent in men’s competitive climbing. This begs the question: why must it be prevalent here? Is this a symptom of there not being enough space in the community for competitive women? Chatting to some competitors afterwards made it clear this is not always the case. Competitions can be extremely supportive and community-driven events, with familiar faces of support, even if they’re the competition. Is this how we embrace our competitive nature while staying true to our feminist values?
What Next for WCS?
This year’s WCS felt geared towards competition and hard climbing. I’d love to see a future event focussed on promoting climbing within oneself, to improve one’s own climbing experience, to learn how to share your passion, to learn the skills to climb safely and achieve personal goals – as a new way to enjoy climbing, beyond one-finger-pull-ups.
I also had the amazing opportunity to chat to a few of the speakers and competitors from the event. Keep an eye out for these chats! Coming soon to a Womenclimb website near you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on your experiences and your climbing journeys! Comment or get in touch.
To find out more about the day, read my WCS Report here.