Women have been at the forefront of rock climbing for decades, pushing the limits of possibility right alongside the guys. We’ve always known that we have just as much to contribute; but we’ve also always faced a host of pressures and expectations that tell us otherwise. From beta spray to microaggressions (“you’re strong for a girl”), we’re tired of being seen as the belayers, the followers, the girlfriends. It’s time for us to take center stage and show the climbing world what we’re made of.
That’s why Touchstone Climbing, in partnership with The North Face, is proud to present our first Women’s Climbing Festival, Woman Up! This two-day event is designed to both celebrate the incredible women and woman-identified folks present in every aspect of rock climbing—from routesetters to weekend warriors to professional athletes—and to inspire women to join our industry, achieve their personal goals, and find their community.
For Touchstone Director of Membership Services Monica Aranda, this has been a dream five years in the making. “A women’s climbing symposium is something I’d wanted to do back in 2012, and in 2013 Dogpatch Boulders Manager Justin Alarcon and I were thinking of modeling it after the Women’s Climbing Symposium in Bristol, UK. Four years later I grabbed the bull by the horns and suggested it to our Routesetting Director and Programs Director, who were totally on board. The rest is history!”
The festival kicks off with an all-women’s comp on Saturday, featuring routes by the premier female routesetters in the country and designed for both the pros and anyone who’s ever been intimidated by climbing competitions.
On Sunday, we’ll be hosting clinics, panels, and presentations by top athletes and routesetters, all geared towards acquiring new skills and opening up conversations about women in climbing.
The fact that this is more than just a competition (though it’s going to be an amazing one of those too!) is what really got Berkeley Ironworks Manager Lyn Barraza psyched:
In our current political climate, taking a stand FOR and WITH other women seems incredibly valuable and worthwhile.
“I’m just looking forward to having an amazing time with a bunch of women in my Touchstone family and community,” she added, “as well as gawk at the prowess of the top female setters and climbers in the US.”
For every woman who’s ever felt like they’ve had to justify themselves at the crag or the gym, this festival is a chance for us to inspire, support, and remind each other that we CAN reach that hold, we CAN make that dyno, we CAN lead that pitch—and the industry, too.
The Woman Up Climbing Festival will take place at Dogpatch Boulders in San Francisco, CA on July 22nd and July 23rd. Check our event page to register and for more details.
Men are encouraged to spectate and cheer on the competitors on Day 1 (as well as check out our Vendor Village and enjoy the rad food and drinks) and attend our panel discussion and presentation on Day 2, but competition and clinic participation are limited to women and woman-identified folks only.