South Sinai Expedition 2015 // Why Women Only?
By Maiju Lucas // Statistics show that although rock climbing is still a male dominated sport when it comes to the number of people participating in it, the number of women involved is steadily growing. However we at the TXC do not really see this development and on average only about one in ten people enquiring about our expeditions are women. As a result we have run trips with mostly all-men teams despite the fact that we would love to have more women participating.
Personally I don’t think that the reason why women are not signing up more has anything to do with them being less adventurous than men or that their climbing levels would not be good enough. I believe that big part of it is the image created by the media that only hard-core pro athletes with ripped muscles and near 0% body fat can be part of exploratory expeditions. But this is just not the case at all. It is true that some of our expeditions do require more experience and it certainly doesn’t harm to be able to smash those high E grades that seem so remote to most of us. But what we aim to achieve already at the research phase of our trips is to find locations where both the experienced E7 climbers as well as the climbers who have only been dreaming about overseas expeditions can all have an exciting and fulfilling experiences and enjoy the adventures we read about in the magazines. And to do this with two-week trips, so that nobody has to spend all their annual holidays at one go.
But all this could easily apply to men, so why organise an expedition for women only?
As a woman and being able to count my climbing years with the fingers of one hand I have fairly often found myself climbing with men that have considerably more experience than me. While the advice given in these situations has been incredibly helpful for my climbing, I have nearly always climbed at my best when with other women. The Friday nights I used to have at the local wall when our women’s group spent at least as much time catching up as climbing were the times when I finally managed to send the routes I had been trying to climb for the previous week or longer. I think this was a combinations of two factors; not tiring myself too fast as I often did when climbing with men – with them I was always ‘Training’ and trying to keep up with the pace. The second was being able to watch other women, with a similar body size, trying the same route and seeing how they would make the moves. And if there was more than one of us struggling with the same section, I often found it much more useful to try to work out what we were doing wrong with women who, like me, were neither able to use their muscles to compensate for the missing bit of technique or experience. Hopefully this expedition will offer something similar; to be able to share our knowledge and draw from each others’ strengths and experiences. And have lots of fun while doing that.
So it is the sharing of experiences that women can do when climbing together but it is also about wanting to offer an opportunity for women to come on an expedition that hopefully will inspire many more to do something similar. I have met surprisingly many women who climb hard and lead grades that I can only dream about and still believe that going on exploratory climbing trips, not to mention far flung expeditions to exotic locations, is just not possible for them. I hope this will be a trip that shows others that everyone can do it, we can all be adventurous. But it is also about the unique personal experiences and learning opportunities that I believe every woman joining this expedition will have, whether it is about climbing, experiencing a new culture, stepping outside your comfort zones or maybe going on your first overseas travels without knowing anyone else beforehand.
Finally I would like to add that it was originally Emily’s suggestion to organise an all-women climbing expedition and I’m so glad she did as I think this trip might well become one of my favourite trips ever. I cannot wait!
We look forward to hearing from you.
– Maiju Lucas