Heroines Of The Crag - Why Should More Women Climb?

Image Credit: Dave Comer

Image Credit: Dave Comer

“Climbing is in my blood… I simply love both the process and the people.” - Fiona.

I would love to see more women get into climbing. For me, climbing is an experience that reconnects me with nature and our Earth. It allows me to appreciate how lucky we are to live in a beautiful country, with pretty climbing spots such as Dartmoor, the Peak District and, more local, the Malverns (which has some good bouldering). I also have a serious fear of heights, and climbing has been a way to gradually conquer my fear.

Climbing, like many other sports, is still male-dominated. But women like Hazel Findlay, who led an E2 at age 12 and has a whole host of climbing achievements, prove that women can climb just as hard as men. We may not all be as accomplished as climbers like Hazel, but climbing any grade is a way to challenge yourself, achieve, and beat the misconception that tough sports are just for men. It’s a test of strength and bravery, and the women featured in this post have both in bucket-fulls.

Although climbing outside does differ from indoor climbing, using the weekday evenings to train at climbing centres like Vertical Limit will allow you to get the most out of your sunny weekends on real rock.

For this post, I asked three local female climbers what climbing means to them and why they would encourage more women to climb.

“[Climbing] puts everything into perspective for me. When I get to the top of the climb I always stop to take in the view and appreciate everything.” - Becky.

I met Becky on the Vertical Limit bouldering mat and we have been friends for years. I have seen first-hand Becky’s dedication to climbing on trips, and she is one of the women who continually inspire me to climb harder. Becky was inspired to try more ‘outdoorsy’ activities through school trips, and has since developed a love for climbing. She thinks more women should give climbing a go, and not worry about being new to the sport: “[Climbing] is an excellent form of exercise to improve general fitness. You can push yourself as much as you want to and there are options for all abilities.”

Image credit: Dave King

Image credit: Dave King

Sam (pictured above) is a regular climber who enjoys both indoor and outdoor climbing, often spending sunny days on the crag.

Sam got interested in climbing through the friends she met at Vertical Limit. She admires the strength of her climbing heroine Shauna Coxsey, but this lady has a great deal of impressive strength of her own. Just watch her do a one-move wonder on a challenging HS lead.

Sam climbing in Dartmoor. Credit: Georgie Bull.

Sam believes that more women should get into sports in general, but particularly climbing, as it’s an enjoyable way to become fit and healthy and a great way to make new friends.

“I admire the women around me who climb. I'm not an accomplished climber and seeing women of all ages and abilities having the guts to persevere inspires me to push myself harder and to commit more.” - Fiona.

Fiona loved to climb things as a child, however, intense bullying and a particularly violent incident resulted in her losing confidence and developing a fear of heights. “I used to walk past Vertical Limit every so often when walking home from the train station and desperately wanted to have a go, but was too anxious and none of my friends would go with me.” Eventually, she met a colleague who went regularly, who introduced her to the bouldering wall and everyone there.

Now Fiona has rediscovered a love for her childhood passion and enjoys climbing again. For her, climbing is a “meditative sport” and has helped her to work through a fear of heights and beat social anxiety. She says that climbing teaches “many transferable skills”, such as “perseverance, learning to fail, and problem solving”. Through climbing, Fiona has learnt how to be vulnerable, to take risks and to follow her heart’s instinct. She says climbing “has added a depth to [her] life that [she] was previously searching for.”

I would say to all women who climb, or those thinking of giving it a go: it doesn’t matter how hard you can climb, or even if you have a fear of heights and sometimes freak out at the top of a climb (like me!). I have always found other climbers to be incredibly supportive and encouraging, whatever your skill level. Often climbing is a personal journey, and the journey sometimes isn’t just to improve your skill in climbing. The journey can be conquering fear, making lasting friendships, or even reigniting an old passion. If climbing is something you love or would like to try - get out there and do it!

We would love to see more women at Vertical Limit - come down and meet our friendly community, give climbing a go, and discover what could become your greatest passion in life.