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Climb Like a Girl: Getting Your Start in This Male-Dominated Sport

by Katharine Vaughan

getting the most out of your home climbing wall

As a female, it can feel challenging—and even downright overwhelming—to get into a sport where your sex is outnumbered 7:3. From the beginning, climbing has been a bit of a “boys club.” If you dig back through the history books, you’ll clearly see that men have dominated this sport for decades. However, what isn’t written in these pages is how women actually have played an important role in the growth and development of rock climbing—they just haven’t received as much recognition for their contributions.

Today, female climbers are being recognized for their achievements more than ever before. But even the most well-known female climbers—climbers like Lynn Hill, Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou, and Sasha DiGiulian—are often unrelatable to the average female who is trying to break into the sport. After all, these women are elite athletes! While they are all great role models who have achieved incredible accomplishments (both on and off the wall), they are on a much different level than a woman walking into a climbing gym for the very first time.

Emma Contaoe of Climbing Escapes, a Canadian-based guiding service whose mission is to expand the accessibility of outdoor rock climbing, said, “I always thought that climbing was very intimidating, that you had to look a certain way and have this prerequisite of being strong.” Emma is not alone in this sentiment, and dismantling the mindset that women are not good enough or “legit” enough is the key.

Fortunately, over the past two decades, the climbing community has been working hard to break down the barriers that prevent women from exploring the sport of rock climbing. Women-specific climbing groups have played a huge role in this. These groups come in all shapes and sizes: from informal gym meet-ups to well-established women-specific climbing organizations to women’s-only climbing courses, and beyond. The process may have started off slowly, but it has caught fire and is now a force to be reckoned with! Today, you can’t go anywhere in the climbing community without feeling the presence of one of these groups.

If you identify as a female and want to try your hand (or, uh, fingers…) at rock climbing, these organizations would be a great place to get started:

The LCC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose missions is to “connect and empower all women and non-binary people who are comfortable in spaces that center the experiences of women around climbing.” This popular organization hosts climbing gym meet-ups and events across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Flash Foxy is committed to providing female and gender queer climbers with a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment where they can pursue their love of climbing—without any barriers to access. This organization hosts climbing events and festivals in various locations across the United States.

In partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), SendHers is a network of female adventurers and allies, designed to empower and unite climbers as they familiarize themselves with the sport and the community. SendHers hosts a wide range of events in the Northeast, catering to beginners and advanced climbers, alike.

Most female climbers thrive in an environment where they can improve at their own pace, and in a way that is best-suited to their strengths and weaknesses. Having the camaraderie and support of a community—along with skill-sharing from other female climbers—makes climbing more approachable, and less intimidating. It instills confidence and encourages female climbers to take up space on the wall or at the crag. There is also less concern over who is better, and more focus on unity and community.

Gender aside, every climber is on their own journey. Making space for all of these personal pathways is important—a new climber should feel just as at-home as someone who has been climbing for decades. Rockstar Volumes is committed to making the climbing community inclusive for everyone, and we hope you’ll join us by appreciating and accepting all climbers as they are.ere. 


Featured Climbing Training Gear

Maverick: The on-the-go, bring it anywhere hangboard. On a family road trip to keep your fingers in shape. We like to bring this to the crag with us to keep our fingers warm—without losing skin on mediocre warm-ups—at that steep, thuggy sport crag.

Pinch Blocks: Don't let pinch strength stop you from sending! Use it while hanging, lifting, and even for one arm hangs; featuring various widths for pinching, a 20 mm edge, and a jug.

The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…

The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.


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