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Women and climbing partners


Original Post
anna.gutwin · · Burlington, VT · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 75

Out of curiosity, how many women are out there who only have male climbing partners and/or would like to climb with more ladies? I'm lucky to have a really strong crew of women climbers in my community (it doesn't hurt being engaged to one of them), but when I travel I notice a lot of women complain about not having enough female partners. 

I totally get the difference that comes with men vs women. I personally think having a balance of both is the sweet spot. My female friends encourage me in a different way than my guy friends and both are valid but pretty different. I'm always shocked when I talk with some women who haven't found other ladies to climb with though!

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 735

I've always climbed with mostly guys.  There are fewer than 10 women I have ever climbed with (I mean women climbers who go on trips on their own, and make plans directly with me, and don't count women who only come as an included +1 with their husband/boyfriend, who is the one actually making plans to go climbing with me).

If you remove from this list the women who only went on large group trips and count only the women whom I could truly call partners, then there are 5 total. Only two of whom are currently on my side of the continent. And one has a really restrictive schedule bc of the younger kids :(

It definitely feels different when I go climbing with women. Sometimes I am more likely to try hard when I see someone my size trying hard, and not give up too soon. And even though 3 out of these 5 ladies are my size, we actually climb very differently, so it is helpful to see a different beta.

I've been going to a bouldering gym lately that sets a lot of routes that favor taller climbers. But there is a girl who goes there, my size, and strong. And I swear, several times there have been problems where I kept trying the move, I couldn't do it, and I was ready to give up in disgust, because every single guy just walks that move with no trouble at all, but then she comes in, tries the same move, has the same trouble that i have, and all of a sudden I'm psyched to keep throwing myself at it, because I have someone else to keep trying with.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 743

I've only climbed with women a few times, and it was as a mixed group, or in the gym. No regular lady partners, yet. 

For me though, it's been more of a partners being scarce problem than male/female. As the not strong, newer climber, I have to be out with someone who is good with that. Not easy to find!

Plus, there's the long list of "sure! Let's climb sometime!" with phone numbers, but no one ever follows through. And, schedules.

All of that said, I would love to climb with someone like Lena! At 4'11", my climb up any route is just not going to be the same as my 6' tall partner! But, then we're still back to mismatched abilities....

Best, OLH

La MoMoface · · Arvada, CO · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 60
Lena chita wrote:

I've always climbed with mostly guys.  There are fewer than 10 women I have ever climbed with (I mean women climbers who go on trips on their own, and make plans directly with me, and don't count women who only come as an included +1 with their husband/boyfriend, who is the one actually making plans to go climbing with me).

If you remove from this list the women who only went on large group trips and count only the women whom I could truly call partners, then there are 5 total. Only two of whom are currently on my side of the continent. And one has a really restrictive schedule bc of the younger kids :(

It definitely feels different when I go climbing with women. Sometimes I am more likely to try hard when I see someone my size trying hard, and not give up too soon. And even though 3 out of these 5 ladies are my size, we actually climb very differently, so it is helpful to see a different beta.

I've been going to a bouldering gym lately that sets a lot of routes that favor taller climbers. But there is a girl who goes there, my size, and strong. And I swear, several times there have been problems where I kept trying the move, I couldn't do it, and I was ready to give up in disgust, because every single guy just walks that move with no trouble at all, but then she comes in, tries the same move, has the same trouble that i have, and all of a sudden I'm psyched to keep throwing myself at it, because I have someone else to keep trying with.

D'aww, if we lived closer together we'd totally be crag friends!

rockratrei · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jul 2002 · Points: 370

Been climbing trad multi-pitch with mostly women since 1992.  Organized Sheclimbs in D.C from 1994 to 1996.  Occasionally I climb with cool dudes.

https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/short-film-showcase/she-climbs-like-a-girland-its-awesome

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 735
La MoMoFace wrote:

D'aww, if we lived closer together we'd totally be crag friends!

I know better than to try and convince you to move here... Maybe someday I'll move. But hopefully we will climb together this spring, and you won't even bail. 

wonderwoman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 88

I love my climbing sistahs!  Right now, I am looking forward to an all ladies trip to RRG for a few days in April.

We have quite a crew in Boston.  I actually created a Boston Climbing Babes & Beer Facebook page so that women could find other women partners.  There are now over 200 members.  There are also women climbing gym groups and the Outdoor Women's Network.  

I normally climb with my husband (I got him into climbing, not the other way around, btw), but jump on any opportunity to climb with other women.  Strangely, I usually have to help find him a climbing partner in my absence.  He is just not as much of a long term planner as I am!

Kailey Cox · · San Luis Obispo, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 5

I definitely struggle to find female climbing partners.  I just watched La Sportiva’s new Slaydies video with Margot Hayes, Emily Harrington, and Paige Claassen... I was so jealous of that! I would love to go on a girls trip. Most of the ladies in my group don’t want to break off from their SOs or don’t enjoy climbing outside of larger groups. I also admit I have a hard time making female climbing friends out of strangers at the gym... sometimes I feel intimated if they are a lot better than me. I definitely feel like I’m lacking that support. 

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20
anna.gutwin · · Burlington, VT · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 75

Kailey - I would encourage you to not be intimidated by better climbers! I admit that sometimes in the gym I get focused in on my routine or problem I'm working on. But if you have an attitude of curiosity and a strong sense of stoke you shouldn't feel timid around anyone. I've found that one of the best ways to get better is to climb with people who are climbing just a little harder than you. You can ask questions like, "how did you do this move?" and learn so much. 

It is hard when people have already paired up with either their SOs or other partners, but keep trying. I'm sure you're not the only woman looking for more female climbing partners! Maybe even start a club or meet-up in your gym. 

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 735

+1 on anna's comment.

If you see someone at the gym that you would like to go climbing with, ask them! And don't be intimidated because you don't climb as strong as they do. People who have been climbing for a while generally have a selection of climbing partners, and are unlikely to go to YOU and ask you, so if you are hanging back and hoping to get asked... Probably not likely to happen. But if you ask them, they might very well say yes, at least the first time... and whether they will want to go with you the 2nd, 3rd, etc. time depends on you, the person, and not necessarily the grade you climb.

If I feel like I have to act as a guide, assessing climbing abilities, picking the appropriate crags, carrying gear, setting up topropes, cleaning the routes at the end... Sure, I might do this occasionally, I might take some friends to climb easy stuff when it is too hot to be working on harder climbing, but the emphasis is on the word FRIENDS, because otherwise what's in it for me? It's certainly not something I would be interested in doing repeatedly, even with friends. I'm not being paid for guiding. When I go climbing, I want to climb, so in order for partnership to work out, I need competent climbers as partners.

If you tell me, I want to go to this crag and send this 5.9 -- I am stocked for you. I will belay you, offer advice, encouragement, and victory high-fives. If you tell me, I can't lead, but I will toprope anything you put up, and I will get to the anchors, one way or the other, even if I have to jug, and clean the route you put up for me -- that works, too. But if you don't have a goal in mind, if you are not looking through the guidebook and picking out things that interest you, if you aren't willing to learn even the basics of toprope route cleaning, if you say you will climb the route, and after I set it up you change your mind... we are probably not well-matched climbing partners.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 743
Lena chita wrote:

+1 on anna's comment.

If you see someone at the gym that you would like to go climbing with, ask them! And don't be intimidated because you don't climb as strong as they do. People who have been climbing for a while generally have a selection of climbing partners, and are unlikely to go to YOU and ask you, so if you are hanging back and hoping to get asked... Probably not likely to happen. But if you ask them, they might very well say yes, at least the first time... and whether they will want to go with you the 2nd, 3rd, etc. time depends on you, the person, and not necessarily the grade you climb.

If I feel like I have to act as a guide, assessing climbing abilities, picking the appropriate crags, carrying gear, setting up topropes, cleaning the routes at the end... Sure, I might do this occasionally, I might take some friends to climb easy stuff when it is too hot to be working on harder climbing, but the emphasis is on the word FRIENDS, because otherwise what's in it for me? It's certainly not something I would be interested in doing repeatedly, even with friends. I'm not being paid for guiding. When I go climbing, I want to climb, so in order for partnership to work out, I need competent climbers as partners.

If you tell me, I want to go to this crag and send this 5.9 -- I am stocked for you. I will belay you, offer advice, encouragement, and victory high-fives. If you tell me, I can't lead, but I will toprope anything you put up, and I will get to the anchors, one way or the other, even if I have to jug, and clean the route you put up for me -- that works, too. But if you don't have a goal in mind, if you are not looking through the guidebook and picking out things that interest you, if you aren't willing to learn even the basics of toprope route cleaning, if you say you will climb the route, and after I set it up you change your mind... we are probably not well-matched climbing partners.

This is me you're describing, both the too timid (at times), and the definitely stoked, lol!

It is most definitely hard rounding up partners and making it work, male or female. The last paragraph is key, I think, for mismatched abilities. That's the boat I will be in forever, honestly, so my level of "try hard" has to be kept very, very high. Which is fine by me! A partner who can enjoy my super modest "triumphs", and grasp that I have some physical challenges, is a big plus. Not everyone is that sort of partner, though, which is fine, but not for long, for me at least.

That said, I have hugely enjoyed the opportunities to offer a belay to out of town climbers on those one time only partnerships, and I've casually swapped belays with tons of folks at gyms. There are a lot of great people out there! 

Best, OLH

Abbie R · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 5

I bookmarked this site a while ago - Alpenglow Collective - seems like a good resource for finding non-male partners where you live.

From their "About" page: 

"Alpenglow Collective is a connecting force for the women’s and trans climbing community. It is an inclusive platform where women, trans people, and gender non-conforming folks can connect, find climbing partners, and create lasting relationships. We strive to foster in-person mentorships within the climbing community and facilitate the transition from gym to crag."

wonderwoman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 88
Abbie R wrote:

I bookmarked this site a while ago - Alpenglow Collective - seems like a good resource for finding non-male partners where you live.

From their "About" page: 

"Alpenglow Collective is a connecting force for the women’s and trans climbing community. It is an inclusive platform where women, trans people, and gender non-conforming folks can connect, find climbing partners, and create lasting relationships. We strive to foster in-person mentorships within the climbing community and facilitate the transition from gym to crag."

Yay!  this rocks!  Thank you!!!!

ChapelPondGirl · · Keene, NY · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20

My climbing community (Keen/Lake Placid in the Adirondacks of NY) has a small, but entirely bad ass group of women climbing strong and hard.  I feel so very lucky to be able to share a rope with them.  On top of that, the men here are capable, enlightened souls who are totally awesome to climb with.  Sound Utopia?  Well, it kind of is.  Think of a tiny Boulder without the prices, assholes, or pretentiousness

lin murphy · · boulder · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 480

I climb in Boulder. Have several great guy partners; would like some women to climb with.  I am retired and can travel.

Steph · · South Lake Tahoe, CA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

I climbed with some rad ladies back east, but now having the hardest time finding anything other than climbing bros in Tahoe area. My SO doesn't climb, and both of us would prefer I climbed w the ladies. Also, it's tough when you just want to climb fun but easier pitches, not crazy stuff at Yosemite. Finding I'm the odd woman out here.

ChapelPondGirl · · Keene, NY · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20
ChapelPondGirl wrote: My climbing community (Keen/Lake Placid in the Adirondacks of NY) has a small, but entirely bad ass group of women climbing strong and hard.  I feel so very lucky to be able to share a rope with them.  On top of that, the men here are capable, enlightened souls who are totally awesome to climb with.  Sound Utopia?  Well, it kind of is.  Think of a tiny Boulder without the prices, assholes, or pretentiousness

I just realized that what I said above could be taken as very judgemental.  I didn't mean that everyone in Boulder is a pretentious asshole.  

Crag Hag · · #vanlife · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

I mainly climb with guys, but I'd love to climb regularly with another female... I easily meet other ladies and exchange contacts but when it comes to actually going outside/on climb trips they tend to flake (my personal experience) whereas my male partners follow through and make more of an effort to climb.  

All of my close girlfriends don't climb so having a close gal pal to climb with would be so awesome.

Bendon Arthar · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 11 days ago · Points: 0
Crag Hag wrote: I mainly climb with guys, but I'd love to climb regularly with another female... I easily meet other ladies and exchange contacts but when it comes to actually going outside/on climb trips they tend to flake (my personal experience) whereas my male partners follow through and make more of an effort to climb.  

All of my close girlfriends don't climb so having a close gal pal to climb with would be so awesome.
I love group climbing rather than a single one. This is interesting because of lots of guys together. 
Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
ChapelPondGirl wrote:

I just realized that what I said above could be taken as very judgemental.  I didn't mean that everyone in Boulder is a pretentious asshole.  

Yeah, thanks for that. ;) 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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