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Women’s Climbing Symposium 2018: A Report

Women’s Climbing Symposium 2018: A Report

The Women’s Climbing Symposium is a UK based event with speakers from across the world talking about their climbing experiences and renowned coaches helping to develop individual climbing skills, aiming to ‘Connect, Develop and Inspire’ women in the climbing community. The event is organised by bouldering queen and olympic-hopeful Shauna Coxsey, BMC VP Emma Flaherty, and RAB model & climber Rebecca Ting.

The aim of WCS is to ‘create a day that any female climber can come along to and benefit from’

WCS organisers Shauna, Rebecca and Emma

On the first weekend of October hundreds of women from across the world (including some from North America, just ‘popping’ over for the weekend events!) gathered at the UK’s largest boulder hall, HarroWall, in North West London for the eighth annual Women’s Climbing Symposium. I was extremely privileged to be one of them.

This year was my first time attending WCS. I was filled with excitement and nerves as I travelled down to London from Glasgow, not knowing what to expect. The aim of WCS is to ‘create a day that any female climber can come along to and benefit from’ and to give women the ‘tools to be able to access what’s already there and feel confident’. I was interested in seeing the climbing community out with the ‘macho’ vibe that dominated walls and clubs I’d experienced.

Connect

The captivated crowd

HarroWall was alive with an electric buzz from hundreds of people in love with climbing, gathered together to celebrate the sport. The theme of this year’s symposium was ‘My Climbing Journey’, connecting women through their climbing stories and experiences. Keynote speakers Anna Stöhr, Caroline Ciavaldini and Beth Rodden shared with a captivated audience stories that shaped their climbing experiences and careers, and how they worked to overcome, or get around, the physical, mental and societal obstacles in their way.

Develop

Shauna Coxey and Leah Crane wrapping up a Dyno workshop

There were 13 different coaching sessions to choose from; Footwork, Cracks, Dynos, Steep Climbing, Movement, Body Maintenance, Core, Grip Strength, Handstands, Head Games, Rope Work, Upper Body Strength and Yoga for Climbers. These workshops each had amazing coaches dedicated to sharing their knowledge and experience with us symposium-goers.

Running parallel to the workshops were two streams of talks; one stream on the main stage, with talks from Naomi Buys, Lucy Whittaker, Nina Williams and Sophie Whyte, and one stream on a separate stage, with talks from GB Paraclimber Bella Walsh, Jen Slater and Tessa Lyons. The talks covered topics including training, fear and ‘mum beta’, with speakers sharing tips, how-to’s, and advice.

Inspire

Beth Rodden talking about her climbing journey

WCS was indeed inspiring. Hundreds of women came together to celebrate and explore climbing and to develop their skills. This event was probably the most positive and relatable experience I’ve had in a bouldering wall. Seeing women who were climbing for the first time, and women who were crushing after years of climbing was incredible.

Find out more about my climbing journey at the WCS here.

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