The Faces of the Woman Up Climbing Festival

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As Fall approaches and we start gearing up for bouldering season, we wanted to take one last look back at our Woman Up Climbing Festival to carry its spirit with us into the future. Inspired by Flash Foxy’s Women’s Climbing Festival portraits, our photographer Kendra Wood set out to capture the faces of some of the incredible womxn who came out and made the event so special. She approached each participant with a simple question:

How has climbing changed your life?


“Climbing has brought me all of my favorite people and a family I am so blessed to be a part of. My first taste was in Joshua Tree two years ago, and being there, completely immersed in the elements, I had never felt so free and at home. This community of silly, earth-loving monkeys is one of the things I am most grateful for.” —Jenny




“It’s saved my life; literally, saved me. It’s been a constant, a therapist, a distraction, a harsh teacher, [and a] motivation to keep living. The words that are yelled at me while I’m on the wall stay with me throughout my life: ‘Just hang on,’ ‘Don’t let go,’ ‘You got this.’ As true on rock as on the ground.” —Ramona





“Climbing tests my mental and physical strength every day. It has contributed to the best and the worst moments of my life and because of that, it has truly shaped who I am. I am a much happier and more confident person when I climb.” —Izzy Baldwin






“It taught me to be comfortable with my body for the first time in my life. It taught me how to move and understand the makeup of my body. Traditional sports had never inspired me to learn. This [sport] is just for me.” —Maggie Brown






“I’ve been able to find such a supportive, encouraging crew of friends through climbing. I felt very timid when I first began climbing about a year ago, but thanks to old friends and strangers alike, I have been able to find myself, as a strong womxn who is quick to cheer on other ladies. Indoors, outdoors, and in my life in general, I feel more comfortable extending support to others.” —Atha Davis



“Climbing has taught me patience and perseverance more than anything else. Oh, and let’s not forget the community. ❤️” —Michele Lombardo







“Climbing to me isn’t just a sport—it’s an adventure! It takes you out of your comfort zone, but in one of the most supportive environments you’ll ever find! It works you physically and mentally, but you keep coming back for more. And who wouldn’t want to explore some of the most beautiful outdoor places from such a unique and high perspective? I love it. ” —Olga Nezhevenko




“I started climbing at age 3, and I’ve been climbing ever since. For my entire life, climbing has been my passion, my community, my identity, my anchor. It’s taken me all over the world and has introduced me to my best friends. I am my best self when I’m climbing, and I don’t know where I’d be without it.” —Eli Michaels




“I started climbing in 2016 when my life was at a very hard turning point. I found climbing as my way of healing, and I fell in love with it.” —Xiao-Yen Wang







“Climbing has literally got me where I am today. My friends; my chosen family. The community feels like home. It has also given me something incredible to share with both friends and family outside. I love that wherever I go, the community exists and is always welcoming. Thank you.” —Ania Burlinska





“Climbing is my anchor in life. I can’t explain to my friends and coworkers how hauling my ass up a boulder is the most peaceful part of my day. But it is not only a physical challenge, but a mental one. It makes me feel strong and ready to conquer life.” —Anne Abrahamson





“I met the love of my life climbing and we are each other’s mountains.” —Rebecca Au







“It’s how I’ve met my best girl friends. It’s taught me how to face challenges head on. It’s also where I met my fiancée. Climbing has brought me so much joy. I can’t imagine my life without it!” —June Lin






“This is the 20th year since I first climbed. I say ‘first’ because I’ve had too many gaps! The older I get the more I bring to the wall—the biggest wall I climb is in my head! Climbing lets/makes me forget everything else and be right there on the wall. My two-year-old climbs here at Dogpatch too, but I’m not keeping up with him; I’m showing him girl power!” —Vanessa Green




“I’ve become more confident and self-reliant. Still working on pushing my limits!” —Angie Boto








“Climbing has been a wonderful hobby—it’s both physically and mentally challenging. I find it to be a therapeutic activity that allows me to focus being present in the ‘here & now.’ It’s also allowed me to develop meaningful relationships bonding with like-minded individuals in the community. I just love it!” —Janice Manalac




“Climbing is the single best thing to ever happen to me (besides yoga). It’s made me mentally stronger than I’ve ever been, and getting to climb at the grade you want both indoors and outdoors is the greatest challenge! Climbing has made me see myself 100% differently, giving me confidence in what my body and mind are capable of. What’s the point of being fit if you can’t climb a mountain anyways? Real strength comes from confidence and climbing gives that to me.” -Katie


“Climbing is my quiet space. After a long day at work there is nothing better. On the wall, there is nothing else; Just me and the problem.” —Erin Armstrong







“For me, climbing is like a meditation. When I climb, that’s all I think about. If I get distracted, I fall. I never thought that I could fall in love with a new sport at my age. I love the physical challenge of climbing, but I love the mental challenge as well. And I love the encouraging climbing community. Climbing has brought me an incredible amount of joy.” —Shelly Sella




“Climbing has challenged my limits and taught me [that] I am stronger than I knew. I have overcome fears and made some amazing friends. ” —Sarah Whiteford







“I like climbing because I can show off that I am strong. I get to prove myself and it helps me focus.” —Evelyn








“Initially, climbing was the only physical activity I could cajole my wife into. Then I started getting better and pushing myself. Now, I climb because it’s a safe place for me to do hard things. Nobody sees if I get super frustrated with a move, and I get to keep trying until I make it happen (or fall off the wall so many times that my partner lets me down).” —Morgan Pulleybank




“I can’t even begin to fathom how my life would be without climbing. This sport brings me so much joy, and has opened so many doors for me, I really can’t stress how much I love this sport and the people I’ve met through it. I owe so much to climbing and love every person and every aspect of the community. Thank you to everyone who has made this sport so inclusive, supportive, and amazing. ” —Drew Baldwin



“My life has changed because climbing has made me feel more confident. It has made me really strong and able to ignore all but the worst of foot pains…It has also made me feel knowledgeable and given me access to a community no matter where I go.” —Annelise Eckman





“Climbing has helped me find my identity. It has given me something to work for that I do purely out of fun. Before I started climbing, I tried many conventional sports, none of which I enjoyed. Climbing is so personal, and it gives you a chance to witness your improvement. In addition, the people I have met through the sport have changed my life. It is such an amazing feeling to have something that you deeply enjoy doing, and climbing has given me that.” —Mira Gottleib


“I did not start climbing until I was 43 years old. I had been a gynmast through high school and college, transitioning to body building after college. I competed in body building for a few years and weight trained for a few more. Growing bored of weight training, I found climbing and was hooked from the first time I tried! It is a perfect combination of my athletic background and continues to challenge me to this day (I am now 57). I really overcame my fear of lead climbing by earning my lead card! I want to help to inspire younger women.” —Paula Chen


“When I started climbing 17 years ago I was very timid and bad at trying things where failure was a distinct possibility. Climbing has taught me to try hard, fail, and try again anyways. I’ve done things I never thought possible. Its been very empowering for me, as a person and as a woman.” —Feather Knee





“Climbing brought me out to the Bay Area after growing up and living in Minnesota for 25 years. I am home.”  —Jodie Miller








“Climbing is my refuge. A space to escape life’s stresses, and just focus on getting stronger, facing fears, taking on new problems, and encouraging others on similar journeys.” —Joy Powers







“I started climbing two years ago and I can’t imagine ever stopping. Today I feel strong and beautiful. My strength is empowering. Climbing has also taken me to beautiful outdoor areas such as Yosemite, Sonoma, and Tahoe. Life is amazing.” —Lupe Cornejo






“Climbing has provided me with a huge sense of accomplishment. I’ve competed in competitive sports my entire life, but accomplishments in climbing can be so minute, but so grand at the same time, which makes them so much more meaningful. Since climbing is inherently tied to the outdoors, it’s even more special. I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident or excited to get outside, or share my passions; and it’s all thanks to climbing!” —Kelsey Lee



“I’ve learned to face my fears; and breathe!” —Nicole Copti








 “It has changed [my life] for the better. The places it has taken me, and the people I have met through this sport are unforgettable.” —Alisha Alverado







“I think I climbed for the first time when I was 10 years old and it was the best thing I ever tried. Sadly there were no gyms or mountains around the really train [on] but ever since that day I kept climbing more or less regularly. It has always been something stable to come back to. I’ve moved around a lot in the last eight years, but I know that wherever I go, when I go to a climbing gym, I’m going to find ‘my’ people.” —Silke



“Facing [my] fear of heights head on!”—Retura

A big thank you to everyone again who came out and celebrated womxn in climbing with us.

With that, we are thrilled to announce that next year’s Woman Up festival will take place at Cliffs of Id on September 22nd + 23rd, 2018!

We can’t wait to feature more of your beautiful faces down in Southern California. See you all next year!