We were fortunate enough to have Zofia Reych of the popular UK blog Up That Rock share with us her coverage and takeaways from this past weekend’s Women’s Climbing Symposium in London. Read on for Zofia’s full scoop from across the pond!
After two years in Leeds, WCS arrived in London for the third and so far the biggest annual meet-up of female climbers of all backgrounds and abilities. On the first Saturday of November climbers gathered in The Biscuit Factory for a day full of workshops and lectures.
The event began with faded pictures of ladies in nailed boots. A history talk by Angela Soper, former president of the Pinnacle Club, one of the first all-female climbing clubs, briefly covered a hundred years of women’s engagement in British climbing. Struggling against cultural conventions and their own inhibitions, the rad individuals from Soper’s story were a true inspiration to kickstart the day. No less inspirational is Soper herself; now seventy, she just came back from a trip to Thailand and is the oldest active member of the Pinnacle Club.
The Symposium’s workshops focused on dynamic climbing (quoting Leah Crane, ‘if you’re small, you gotta jump’), footwork, awkward holds and strength training. Altogether, the attendees had almost three hours of coaching at their disposal.
Mina Leslie-Wujastyk talked about the power of self-efficacy and how through conscious work on her thinking patterns she managed to overcome the barriers that kept her from scoring highly in comps. This was followed by a screening of a raw footage trailer of the latest Jen Randall film, Project Mina. The filmmaker followed Wujastyk to document the ups and downs of a professional climber’s life and give an insight on how much work and dedication is required to stay at the top of one’s game.
Eva Lopez gave a highly informative lecture on key performance indicators in women’s climbing. The Spanish climber and academic researches the most effective training methods and her studies clearly lead her in the right direction. Just last month, at the age of 42, she sent her first 8c+. Although she doesn’t yet want to reveal which line it is, Lopez already has set her eyes on the next project and yes, it is another grade higher.
Weight management issues were covered in a talk by Team GB nutritionist, Rebecca Dent. Other speakers included Emma Flaherty (‘amateur adventures’, or ‘how you don’t need to be a sponsored climber to do extraordinary things’) and Fran Brown, the world paraclimbing champion, who discussed dealing with expectations. The day finished with a presentation by young Ella Kirkpatrick telling the story of climbing El Cap with her dad as the second youngest female to scale the legendary wall.
For many attendees, WCS13 was their first chance to climb with other women. Although some people doubt the rationale behind organizing all-female climbing events, the Symposium’s popularity proves that they’re in demand. Even if climbing is male dominated only by sheer numbers, it definitely impacts the way it is taught, talked about, and done. As Eva Lopez said, she hopes that the skills and experiences that women gain from climbing with other women can be taken outside of all-female events and benefit climbers in their everyday endeavors.
On a personal note, the one thing that the day lacked for me was a really destroying training session that would help the attendees use up some of the psych from the coaching and lectures. Nonetheless, it was a great event and it definitely lived up to its motto of connecting, developing, and inspiring female climbers. Don’t worry too much if you couldn’t be there; all the presentations are soon to be available on the organizer’s website here. You can see more snapshots from the day here.
And to leave you with something more to think about, here are the key areas for female climbers to focus on as identified by Eva Lopez:
- Pulling force
- Grip strength on slopers and wide pinches
- The ability to lead climbs
- Low body mass and body fat
- Dynamic style
- Strengthening of big joints for preventing injuries
Photo Credit: Matt Ralph covering WCS 2013