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WCS 2016 // Review // The Talks!

It’s hard to imagine the team at Women’s Climbing Symposium could improve their events from the previous years but we think they did just that. WCS 2016 saw 400 women from all over the country (and around the world too!) gather together to hear motivating and informative talks, learn some invaluable skills in workshops and network with like-minded super psyched people.

As always it was a star studded event with headline speakers Lisa Rands, Jo Pavey and WCS’s very own Shauna Coxsey, not to mention the plethora of high end climbing crushers like Leah Crane, Mina Leslie Wyjastyk and Suz Dudikn, to name but a few! This year there was theme of goals and so it was great that some of the speakers included women that pushed the boundaries of societal expectations and choose their own paths in life, among them outdoor leader Libby peter, nutritionist Rebecca Dent and entrepreneur Rachael Briggs.

Our very own Zoe gives us a taste of what some of the talks were like…

What do you when someone you barely know (and have only spoken to over a couple of beers at The Women’s Trad Fest!) invites you to the Women’s Climbing Symposium? You say YES of course!

I last went to the symposium 4 years ago, when it was only in its 2nd year of existence, and this year's event showed that some of the creases had definitely been ironed out; the organisation had been improved, there were more workshops and they had sourced the best speakers the women’s climbing community has to offer.

The day started with the the first headline speaker, Lisa Rands. She had come all the way from America to talk about her long climbing career, comp life and overcoming injury to stay at the top of her game. I didn’t know much about Lisa, but her talk was entertaining, inspiring and like many of the other speakers she was incredibly humble about her amazing achievements and the tenacity it takes to overcome injury.

Who knew a talk about trad could be laugh out loud funny AND really informative?

The first talk I went to was Sam Leary’s on trad climbing.  Sam bounced around from her podium to the audience and back again regaling us with tips on racking your harness, showing us pictures of Elvis and filling us with ideas for managing fear. We were so psyched after this that we wanted to head straight to the nearest crag - but there was more fun to be had….

Sam Leary shows off her rack

Sam Leary shows off her rack

Olympic Life

After a delicious lunch in the Manchester sunshine we headed back indoors for the second headline speaker, Jo Pavey, and her talk on her life as an Olympic runner. Jo beats Lisa Rands in the humble stakes and was as blown away by a room full of climbers as we were listening to such a successful, strong athlete talk about her lengthy career. She was a great example of the spirit of the day, which was women being inspired by each other and celebrating each other’s achievements, however big or small they seem.

Libby Talks Careers in the Outdoors

I followed Jo with an interesting talk from Libby Peter about working and playing in the mountains. Discussing her own career path and that of other women who work in the outdoors, Libby helped to clarify which qualifications are available and the varying paths that you can take to get them.

Climbing Goals

The next talk I attended was on sport psychology. Madeleine Eppensteiner gave a presentation on Goal Setting - which was this year’s WCS theme. After an unexpected start to the talk, which involved us all sitting in thoughtful silence for a minute, she worked through breaking down goals into manageable chunks, setting realistic goals and keeping motivated when you’re struggling with setbacks.

Jo Pavey at the WCS 2016

Jo Pavey at the WCS 2016

Shaun Coxsey - Most Psyched Climber in the World?

After a quick tea break all 400 of us settled to watch the final headline speaker and the visionary for the WCS itself; Shauna Coxsey. Although having climbed for over 20 years she is still excited to be climbing, competing and training! I think she wins the prize for being the most psyched climber in the world. Her enthusiasm, work ethos and focus were quite awe inspiring and her love and respect for her family and her training partners was a joy to see.

The day ended with a funny end talk by Shauna and Emma Flaherty (her co-organiser) - they were really excited to see so many women climbers in one place and their hard work definitely paid off because WCS 2016 was a brilliant event which I left really excited and enthused to be part of.

My weekend ended in North Wales on a stunning Sunday afternoon testing out some of Sam Leary’s recommendations on the Llanberis slate - a perfect end to an epic weekend.

Zoe Muffett

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