Faces of the Women's Climbing Festival - The North Face

  Faith, Women’s Climbing Fest Attendee  | “I’m a runner, an artist, and a documentary film producer passionate about representation. I'm interested in whose stories are being told, how and why? And I want to help us all share our stories better, empower us to share our own stories and mainly I want to help people feel seen.  I actually started climbing at summer camp when I was probably about nine, but I got freaked out on a high zip line and stopped until last year. I had an injury and I couldn't run so I tagged along with my friend Sara to the gym and I was pretty immediately hooked. It's very different from running. It's still freaking hard but I don't get to zone out, I like the calculative aspect of it. I like trying out to problems and I like that I have so much to learn. Oh and Sara and I came down together!  I must have just started climbing when I saw Shelma in the REI video about HeyFlashFoxy. I sent it to my friend back in NYC and we made a pact to start climbing at least once a week. It was so cool to see a diverse community of women supporting each other. It's incredible to be able to surround yourself by women exploring their limits, pushing them and willing to get bloody fingers and dust filled hair for those sweaty smiles at the top. It's inspiring to be around people who want to see what they are capable of.  I can't describe the energy during WCF. I couldn't stop smiling from the minute we drove in Paiute Territory and I'm so grateful that we worked with the Payahuunadu Alliance to learn how best to respect the land and the people who are the protectors of the land we're recreating in. The blessings we received to be here made the experience so much more special.”

Faith, Women’s Climbing Fest Attendee | “I’m a runner, an artist, and a documentary film producer passionate about representation. I'm interested in whose stories are being told, how and why? And I want to help us all share our stories better, empower us to share our own stories and mainly I want to help people feel seen.

I actually started climbing at summer camp when I was probably about nine, but I got freaked out on a high zip line and stopped until last year. I had an injury and I couldn't run so I tagged along with my friend Sara to the gym and I was pretty immediately hooked. It's very different from running. It's still freaking hard but I don't get to zone out, I like the calculative aspect of it. I like trying out to problems and I like that I have so much to learn. Oh and Sara and I came down together!

I must have just started climbing when I saw Shelma in the REI video about HeyFlashFoxy. I sent it to my friend back in NYC and we made a pact to start climbing at least once a week. It was so cool to see a diverse community of women supporting each other. It's incredible to be able to surround yourself by women exploring their limits, pushing them and willing to get bloody fingers and dust filled hair for those sweaty smiles at the top. It's inspiring to be around people who want to see what they are capable of.

I can't describe the energy during WCF. I couldn't stop smiling from the minute we drove in Paiute Territory and I'm so grateful that we worked with the Payahuunadu Alliance to learn how best to respect the land and the people who are the protectors of the land we're recreating in. The blessings we received to be here made the experience so much more special.”

  Lizzy, Women’s Climbing Festival Guide  | “In June of 2014 I found myself finishing the last of 25 hikes I wanted to hike on Mt. Baker Highway. On every hike I would stare at Mt. Baker, dreaming of one day climbing that peak. I wandered into the American Alpine Institute one afternoon and simply asked, how do I learn to climb that mountain. They directed me to a 10 day course where I learned the basics of mountaineering and rock climbing, we summited Baker, Silver Star Peak, and my heart was stolen by the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell. The next month I bought a trad rack and learned how to lead, a few weeks later I took a trip to the Bugaboos, and that fall I bought a one way ticket to South America with the goal of exploring all of the 5.8s in Patagonia.  In my early experiences as a climber I was usually the only woman. On my course with AAI I was the only woman out of ten participants. When I went to look for climbing partners as a new climber, I could only find men who wanted to climb with me (and about half the time they weren’t just looking for a climbing partner). When I took my guiding course I was the only woman. And in my first year of guiding I was one of two female guides out of all the main guiding companies operating at Smith Rock State Park. It was isolating. I was first invited to the WCF to guide. In Tennessee I was introduced to this incredible community of passionate and ridiculous women who absolutely crush, being in their presence both humbled and inspired me. It’s comforting to know that I am not alone in my experiences as a female rock climber. And, as a business owner, it’s empowering to receive support and encouragement for my baby company She Moves Mountains.”

Lizzy, Women’s Climbing Festival Guide | “In June of 2014 I found myself finishing the last of 25 hikes I wanted to hike on Mt. Baker Highway. On every hike I would stare at Mt. Baker, dreaming of one day climbing that peak. I wandered into the American Alpine Institute one afternoon and simply asked, how do I learn to climb that mountain. They directed me to a 10 day course where I learned the basics of mountaineering and rock climbing, we summited Baker, Silver Star Peak, and my heart was stolen by the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell. The next month I bought a trad rack and learned how to lead, a few weeks later I took a trip to the Bugaboos, and that fall I bought a one way ticket to South America with the goal of exploring all of the 5.8s in Patagonia.

In my early experiences as a climber I was usually the only woman. On my course with AAI I was the only woman out of ten participants. When I went to look for climbing partners as a new climber, I could only find men who wanted to climb with me (and about half the time they weren’t just looking for a climbing partner). When I took my guiding course I was the only woman. And in my first year of guiding I was one of two female guides out of all the main guiding companies operating at Smith Rock State Park. It was isolating.
I was first invited to the WCF to guide. In Tennessee I was introduced to this incredible community of passionate and ridiculous women who absolutely crush, being in their presence both humbled and inspired me. It’s comforting to know that I am not alone in my experiences as a female rock climber. And, as a business owner, it’s empowering to receive support and encouragement for my baby company She Moves Mountains.”

  Kristen, Women’s Climbing Festival Attendee  | “I started climbing a little bit when I was in university at our campus climbing wall, but just really started getting more serious about it in the past 3 years or so. Most of that time has been indoors at the climbing gym, and I just climbed outdoors for the first time last summer. I’m primarily a sport climber, so this weekend was my first time bouldering outside.  Climbing to me is an opportunity to push my limits both physically and mentally to see what I’m capable of. It’s really empowering to look at a wall or boulder and think, I don’t know how I’m going to get to the top of this, but I’m going to figure it out, and then do it! Climbing is also meditative to me. When you’re climbing a challenging route or boulder problem, it takes all of your focus. You forget about the world around you.  I was attracted to the WCF because I really love participating in female only outdoor events. I find the vibe is really different. It tends to be much more laid-back, and everyone is so supportive of each other. Sometimes when I’m climbing with men I feel like I have to prove that I can climb as hard as them, or that I can keep up with them. That adds an element of fear of failure that can hold me back from really pushing myself to my limit. I find when that pressure is removed, I suddenly am comfortable pushing myself harder, and I have more fun doing it. I also thought the climbing festival would be a great environment to learn new skills. As women, I think we often have really different strengths than some of our male climbing partners, and I really wanted to learn how to approach bouldering and trad climbing from a female perspective.”

Kristen, Women’s Climbing Festival Attendee | “I started climbing a little bit when I was in university at our campus climbing wall, but just really started getting more serious about it in the past 3 years or so. Most of that time has been indoors at the climbing gym, and I just climbed outdoors for the first time last summer. I’m primarily a sport climber, so this weekend was my first time bouldering outside.

Climbing to me is an opportunity to push my limits both physically and mentally to see what I’m capable of. It’s really empowering to look at a wall or boulder and think, I don’t know how I’m going to get to the top of this, but I’m going to figure it out, and then do it! Climbing is also meditative to me. When you’re climbing a challenging route or boulder problem, it takes all of your focus. You forget about the world around you.

I was attracted to the WCF because I really love participating in female only outdoor events. I find the vibe is really different. It tends to be much more laid-back, and everyone is so supportive of each other. Sometimes when I’m climbing with men I feel like I have to prove that I can climb as hard as them, or that I can keep up with them. That adds an element of fear of failure that can hold me back from really pushing myself to my limit. I find when that pressure is removed, I suddenly am comfortable pushing myself harder, and I have more fun doing it. I also thought the climbing festival would be a great environment to learn new skills. As women, I think we often have really different strengths than some of our male climbing partners, and I really wanted to learn how to approach bouldering and trad climbing from a female perspective.”

  Lisa, Women’s Climbing Festival Volunteer  | “I love climbing with all different types of climbers but the energy of climbing with only a group of women is unique and powerful. The Women’s Climbing Festival was intriguing because it was an event that grew, and continues to grow, organically by bringing women together on a large scale that the climbing community has never seen before. Plus, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to climb with all my homies.  There is an equality shift that is occurring right now in our climbing world and beyond, so it is crucial that we continue to have an open dialogue about these uncomfortable topics within our community but also with others who may have different points of view. Everyone's voice, opinions, and values are equally important and we need to create safe spaces for these discussions because we all live on this spinning rock in space together.”

Lisa, Women’s Climbing Festival Volunteer | “I love climbing with all different types of climbers but the energy of climbing with only a group of women is unique and powerful. The Women’s Climbing Festival was intriguing because it was an event that grew, and continues to grow, organically by bringing women together on a large scale that the climbing community has never seen before. Plus, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to climb with all my homies.

There is an equality shift that is occurring right now in our climbing world and beyond, so it is crucial that we continue to have an open dialogue about these uncomfortable topics within our community but also with others who may have different points of view. Everyone's voice, opinions, and values are equally important and we need to create safe spaces for these discussions because we all live on this spinning rock in space together.”

  Meg, Environmental Planner for the Bishop BLM Field Office and Women's Climbing Fest Liason  | “My job allows me to work for public lands in a very holistic way- it is important to know the people, ecosystems, and lands of the Eastern Sierra not just one piece at a time, but to know how every piece interacts and depends on all the others.  I started climbing in southeast Idaho, with some of the best people I've ever met. In those spaces I was able to connect with the outdoors in a meaningful way, find peace in times of stress, and form close friends with my partners. I still find incredible strength of community and support in climbers everywhere, and I love the sense of support and camaraderie that comes with climbing.  As climbers we are primarily recreating on public lands. Our public lands are our heritage, and we all have a stake in their future. These special places should be protected for all of us and for future generations. Take care of them!” 

Meg, Environmental Planner for the Bishop BLM Field Office and Women's Climbing Fest Liason | “My job allows me to work for public lands in a very holistic way- it is important to know the people, ecosystems, and lands of the Eastern Sierra not just one piece at a time, but to know how every piece interacts and depends on all the others.

I started climbing in southeast Idaho, with some of the best people I've ever met. In those spaces I was able to connect with the outdoors in a meaningful way, find peace in times of stress, and form close friends with my partners. I still find incredible strength of community and support in climbers everywhere, and I love the sense of support and camaraderie that comes with climbing.

As climbers we are primarily recreating on public lands. Our public lands are our heritage, and we all have a stake in their future. These special places should be protected for all of us and for future generations. Take care of them!” 

  Monica, Women’s Climbing Fest Attendee  | “Grad school was rough for me. As a way to unwind and try something new, my friend and I signed up for an intro climbing course at the tiny (but wonderful) UCLA gym. Even though I loved the class, it wasn't until after grad school that I climbed outside for the first time, which got me utterly hooked.  I've found climbers to be, for the most part, a supportive and stoke-filled bunch. But there's something especially inspiring and freeing about women climbing with women, and I'm so grateful that the WCF brings women together for exactly that. As for the sport and wider community, climbing brings me to a state of focus which I find addictive. My world gets very small when I climb (it's just me, the rock, and a crash pad or some fun metal jangly bits), but I love that climbing also makes me part of a large and growing community of people exploring and connecting to the outdoors.  I wanted to give a shout out to all the climbing mentors out there, who take it upon themselves to show newbies what it's like to climb outside. It's a big deal, both in terms of climbing safely and ethically, and I'm grateful to everyone who has taken someone climbing outside for the first time.”

Monica, Women’s Climbing Fest Attendee | “Grad school was rough for me. As a way to unwind and try something new, my friend and I signed up for an intro climbing course at the tiny (but wonderful) UCLA gym. Even though I loved the class, it wasn't until after grad school that I climbed outside for the first time, which got me utterly hooked.

I've found climbers to be, for the most part, a supportive and stoke-filled bunch. But there's something especially inspiring and freeing about women climbing with women, and I'm so grateful that the WCF brings women together for exactly that. As for the sport and wider community, climbing brings me to a state of focus which I find addictive. My world gets very small when I climb (it's just me, the rock, and a crash pad or some fun metal jangly bits), but I love that climbing also makes me part of a large and growing community of people exploring and connecting to the outdoors.

I wanted to give a shout out to all the climbing mentors out there, who take it upon themselves to show newbies what it's like to climb outside. It's a big deal, both in terms of climbing safely and ethically, and I'm grateful to everyone who has taken someone climbing outside for the first time.”