What climbers really think about climbing: an interview with four female climbers


Climbing leaves so much room for different styles, strengths, opinions, etc that we as climbers differ so much from one another. With this in mind, I was curious about how I differed from my fellow female climbers. The purpose of this was purely for interest and entertainment sake, but I also realized that we may not be so different after all.

I’ve purposely left out the climbers names for anonymity, but if those climbers wish to reference themselves later, I won’t stop them :). Enjoy!

1. How would you describe yourself as a climber?

Climber 1: Happy.

Climber 2: I would describe myself as a timid climber. I would climb a lot harder without that mental block of fear. What has helped recently is training for for comps with encouraging teammates, and practicing dynamic moves more often. Practice makes bold!

Climber 3: I’m definitely a rushed climber. I try to climb too fast for my mind, or I don’t take enough time to think about the best possible beta.

Climber 4: I consider myself crawling in the climbing world. I love bouldering and all the challenges that surrounds it..although I love outdoors, I spend most of my climbing time indoor.. rope climbing is still something I’m not very familiar with and that scares me a bit..

2. What do you feel you do well in climbing?

Climber 1: Staying positive.

Climber 2: For the longest time, I would have told you that “balancy technical routes are my thing”. They still are, but lately I’ve been getting slightly better at “tension-y” moves and using my core to stay on a route.

Climber 3: I think I’m good at power moves and strength. I don’t hesitate to throw some power into a move!

Climber 4: Motivation to keep improving… It just feels great when you beat your yesterday self.

3. What is your greatest climbing accomplishment?

Climber 1: First trad least last summer, a 5.3 has never been so scary or so gratifying.

Climber 2: I hate to say it’s a grade thing…but sending Dihelio 5.11d, my hardest sport lead so far, felt great. A long time project, Dihelio was my summer goal last year, and I sent it in August.

Climber 3: Finally being able to do dynos. It’s hard to relinquish that control, but once I finally overcame that fear, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot! Also, lead climbing in general.

Climber 4: I guess it was when I realized my fingers were starting to feel strong

4. What aspect of your climbing do you wish to strengthen?

Climber 1: Mental game.

Climber 2: There are many things, but I think the most prominent would be my mental approach to climbing. My emotions tend to dictate how I do on a climb or in a competition. If I start out climbing well, I am more likely to push through harder moves that follow. If I start out struggling, I have difficulty pushing myself through that mental block and focusing on beta.

Climber 3: My balance for sure. I am not very good at thinking about balance – I try to muscle my way through things that do not require much muscle.

Climber 4: All of them, especially technique and finger strength on steep walls.

5. If you had two weeks off starting next week and a couple of grand to spend, where would you go climb and why?

Climber 1: Tenerife! The climbing, the beaches, the mountains, and the perfect climate!

Climber 2: This is a tough question to answer…it should be easy, but there’s SO much rock I want to get to. If I had to choose, I’d say Hueco Tanks in Texas for a week of bouldering, then the Red River Gorge in Kentucky for some sweet, sweet sport. Hueco because I haven’t had much experience with bouldering outdoors, and from the pictures I’ve seen of Hueco sandstone, there are a ton of really cool looking holds. The Red because THE RED. Seriously, though. You haven’t lived until you’ve climbed world class sport routes all day, followed by half of a Miguel’s pizza shared with good friends, and a dip in the cabin’s hot tub with an Ale 8 in hand.

Climber 3: Joe’s valley for some wicked bouldering! Or, pretty much anywhere anyone else wanted to go.

Climber 4: I would need to do some research, but I guess I would look for scenic boulders around my level.

6. How do you feel female climbers are represented in the media, at your gym, etc.?

Climber 1: I think that female climbers are represented really well. I have always heard just as much about the amazing accomplishments of female climbers as their male counterparts in the media. The local gym used to feel very male dominated to me but the more time I spend there, the more women I see trying climbing!

Climber 2: I feel that overall, they are fairly well represented. Women sometimes get a bit of extra recognition for sending something hard because they are female. Men have always lead the charge when it comes to pushing grade limits, and at some point it seemed necessary to recognize the limits that women were pushing. There is a debate on whether or not the FFA (first female ascent) should be a thing at all. I think it’s a positive thing, and that it’s not preaching inequality to say that women climb differently than men. No, guys don’t get extra praise for sending something because they’re male, but I think that they are represented well enough in climbing media.

Female representation at the gym is getting better. It used to be that you would walk into the climbing gym and sometimes be the only girl in a room full of sweaty guys with their shirts off (horrible, right? Haha). Now, women are not only showing up in greater numbers on a more consistent basis, they’re also crushing and starting to compete a bit. We hope to see more female representation in the comp scene in the near future. Sorry for the novel…it’s a topic I find interesting.

Climber 3: I think they’re represented pretty well. Both sexes are accomplishing a lot for our sport. I do think that there are some smaller hints of sexism still very much alive, though it makes me happy to see many strong women of this generation flourishing regardless.

Climber 4: I guess badass girls are representing female climbers well, but we are certainly a small number

7. What is your opinion of competition climbing?

Climber 1: It’s not something I think I’d ever want to participate in, but I certainly enjoy watching competitions!

Climber 2: I love it. I have always been a competitive person, but struggled to find the proper avenue for it until I found competition climbing. I like that I get so focused on the problem in front of me that I almost forget that there are people around me. I like that I don’t have to rely on anyone else to do the work, and that no one else has to rely on me. It pushes me to think independently and search myself for any drive that might exist without prompting. It’s the first sport that has motivated me to train hard.

Climber 3: I love it. It’s what motivates me to train!

Climber 4: I find it great. it is a nice way to challenge yourself and get extra motivation, goals.. besides the atmosphere is usually really friendly

8. What is your opinion of climbing joining the Olympics?

Climber 1: How did it take this long?!

Climber 2: Can you say STOKED?! With growing size of the international climbing population, I believe it’s about time that climbing gets a bigger audience. I understand that not everyone climbs rocks, but not everyone wrestles either…all I can say is good luck, Ashima!

Climber 3: Bring on the Olympics! I think it will be great for the sport and great for me to watch it on TV.

Climber 4: It is a great idea to promote the sport.. the more popular it gets, more facilities and development will happen for the sport

9. What is the scariest thing that has happened to you while climbing?

Climber 1: Going to rappel off a climb and realizing last second that I didn’t have the rope set up correctly.

Climber 2: I will admit that I once started cleaning a route thinking I knew what I was doing, but after managing to get down safely, I knew that I had done something very wrong. I’m not entirely sure what that wrong thing was, but I was standing on a ledge and I’m about 50% sure that had I tripped off the ledge at the wrong moment, I could have fallen to my death. Since then, uncertainty is something I have not toyed with in climbing.

Climber 3: Falling on my back bouldering outside. I pulled a roof section of the boulder, only to have my feet slip and have me slide down. It was more surprising to me than anything.

Climber 4: Looking down when rope climbing for the first time.

10. What’s some advice you would give to a newbie getting into climbing for the first time?

Climber 1: Don’t worry about how bad you think you are, just go try hard.

Climber 2: Give it a consistent month. If you’re not enjoying yourself right away, ask yourself “Do I hate it? Or do I hate that I suck at it?” If your answer is the latter, please don’t give up. It takes time to build up a base of finger strength and technique, and you don’t get that by climbing once a week for 3 weeks. Be confident and don’t feel intimidated.

Always warm up! Start off slow. In the gym: Get in some mini-cardio time (a light jog on the spot or some skipping), some dynamic stretching, then start on flat walls with jugs. Work your way slowly to harder moves/problems. Introduce crimps only when your fingers are warmed up. Outside: same principle, but where you can’t always traverse random jugs on a flat wall, simply choose easier routes first.

If you’re getting into rope, find a friend who’s into it as much as you are! You’re going to need a belay buddy

Climber 3: It’s really intimdating when you first start, and it will take a long time to build up confidence. Don’t give up! If you’re really having fun, stick with it – climbing only gets better with time.

Climber 4:

  • the shoes will be uncomfortable, deal with it.
  • use your feet.
  • finger strength takes time, be patient.
  • be prepared to be addicted to it.

Climb on xx

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