It was so awesome to see a bunch of badass female rock climbers crushing it at this year’s Passchendaele Bouldering Festival V3. Not only as participants and festival goers but as guides, facilitators, trainers and panel experts leading discussions, supporting other climbers and paving the way – inspiring young climbers, especially young female climbers.
You know, as someone who’s been kind of on the outskirts of the climbing community for quite some time now - nearly 10 years that I’ve been ‘dabbling’ in climbing, as I like to say, since I met Jonas who is one of Pinnacle Sport’s climbing guides and trainers. So I’ve had the privilege to enjoy some of the most profound and challenging (both mentally and physically) experiences out there in nature on the rocks that’s given me an insight into the dynamics of rock climbing whilst also being able to observe what goes on socially from a somewhat removed perspective without the kind of added social pressure that can sometimes come with being a ‘serious’ climber, at least in my opinion.
It’s pretty clear from my perspective that there’s a significant difference in the way that men and women approach climbing. For one, there a so fewer female climbers in general – although I think this trend is shifting as climbing becomes more popular, especially in the wake of it recently becoming an Olympic sport. I see more and more women and young girls getting on the climbing bandwagon – and loving it! Which is so great to see. Also as a result of organisations like Pinnacle Sports and Urban Climb really supporting and providing opportunities to female climbers as guides, leaders, trainers & facilitators, and as sponsored climbers and ambassadors as well.
I guess differences in approaches to climbing are as unique as individuals, but something that I’ve noticed a bit is that women tend to be a lot more considered and tactful in their climbing, still technical and physically strong, yes – but also thoughtful, precise, mentally tough, resilient and courageous, in a way that I don’t always see in male climbers – who can sometimes become lost in a puff of male bravado, ego and competition – really with themselves more than anything.
I was pretty inspired to see a majority of women experts (as well as men) talking about their experiences and knowledge gained from this incredibly transformative sport during this year’s panel discussion at the Passchendaele V3 Bouldering Fest. Showing that women too can share their passion and expertise on an even playing level and can be leaders and way-showers for others. Even though physicality can play a big part, it’s not the whole story and to climb well you must have mastery of the mind, self-discipline, and courage as well as technique and body strength.
I was particularly inspired by Madeleine Eppensteiner (@_madeleineeppensteiner) a climber and sports psychologist from Austria and one of the pioneers of the Passchendaele Festival, speaking about the importance of mental strength for climbing in conjunction with physical strength.
“...and what is being mentally strong?... It’s not that we’re not afraid of failure, or that we’re not afraid of falling, it’s not that we never make mistakes, or that we never come of and we haven’t done a single route or a single boulder in a day. It’s not that we’re always in a really good mood and that we’re always ever so excited to go bouldering, or always giving 100% in training…But being mentally strong means that we’re aware of what we’re good at, and what we can expect of ourselves realistically, in which situation and how we can push ourselves in that situation…so it’s not about never being afraid of falling for example…but how we can deal with the fear and push ourselves to overcome it…”
Also Amanda Watts (@theadventurenutritionist) a sports dietitian and a senior contributor with her column in Vertical Life Magazine as well as an elite competitive climber, mother and a whole lot more. As a high level climber for many years, she spoke about the importance of diet, self-discipline, setting progressive goals for training and conditioning for enhanced performance as well as injury prevention.
And Peta Barrett @thetravelingclimber ...a legend in the Brisbane climbing community …. Who’s been climbing for more than 2 decades, spoke of her lifestyle as a travelling climber and how she has created a life and career as a professional guide and climbing instructor following her passion for climbing, travel and the outdoors.
Such amazing, inspirational and courageous women!
For me, when you approach rock climbing in a holistic and integrated way, you really can get so much more out of it – which is actually why things like yoga and meditation go hand-in-hand with rock climbing because they are also holistic in the approach to practice – it’s simply not that easy to isolate one area of the body or group of muscles to work on to improve your practice as a climber, or even only working with one mental process for that matter.
I think you really have to take into consideration all kinds of different factors like, diet and nutrition, training & injury prevention, psychological training, location & weather, plus your gear, safety and even your team mates as belay & beta.
It’s no surprise to me that more and more women are taking up this sport and excelling at it, because I think there’s this realisation that power and expertise (especially in rock climbing) can come in such multi-faceted ways, and that women can grasp a handle of this quite easily without necessarily having to show off the dominance of their physical strength, which to be honest, can be pretty intimidating for anyone who’s just staring their journey or foray into climbing – not only for women.
To say the least, climbing is an incredibly life-transformative practice to have, and can be an awesome way for women to express and empower themselves, build strength, stamina and resilience both mentally and physically, a way to meditate and release tension and energy in a healthy holistic way and to create fun, challenging, exciting adventures where we get to enjoy nature in the company of others.
Sounds great to me! ...Right on girls!
I am currently offering personal one-on-one meditation sessions and group classes for climbers (beginners to advanced) who want to improve their mental strength.
Meditation practice is grounded in a fundamental understanding of the intricate connection between the brain and the body and through certain mental processes and meditation techniques you can improve and enhance both your mental and physical capacity and your body’s ability to cope with stress – which is particularly important for rock climbers when dealing with tricky, high-stress situations.
I can provide you with some practical tools to take with you so that you can implement them during your practice, at the gym while training or even at home as a complimentary practice for improving your climbing.
Follow me on Instagram @Vibrant Alignment
Thanks for Reading guys!
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