Dear Internet: Please just keep climbing

I am a woman. I climb. I climb with girls. I climb with guys. I don’t care what kind of equipment you’re working with. In the world of outdoor climbing, I experience very little gender discrimination.

Dear online climbing community,

Hi. I’m a woman. I climb. And you know what? I’ve experienced some gender-based assumptions about my partner being my boyfriend, needing beta at the gym because I’m a cute little female that couldn’t possibly flash your project… Hell, I’ve even written some pro-lady content myself. I love seeing women crush!

But here’s the deal: I’m a grown ass woman and I can tell any hater off. You can too (guy or girl or however you identify.)

Rather than getting into these quibbly bullshit arguments on the internet, I think that people need to just stand up for themselves in the moment and focus on climbing.

I have a college education, I understand gender-based discrimination (have you even read “Half the Sky,” bro?), but frankly most of the stuff I read people whining about on the internet falls within the realm of first world problems.

I will absolutely acknowledge that it’s significantly more difficult to find girls that are into alpine trad climbing… And that’s where a gender-based issue might reside, but I also acknowledge that I don’t know the entire climbing community and there are lots of trad crushing ladies that I’ve yet to meet.

In my short couple years of climbing, I’ve met a lot of different partners and a lot of different climbers. While my experience is entirely my own and not representative of women everywhere, I’d just like to say:

I am a woman. I climb. I climb with girls. I climb with guys. I don’t care what kind of equipment you’re working with. In the world of outdoor climbing, I experience very little gender discrimination. I just climb with whoever I can, whenever I can. Keep it simple. Climb on.

4 Weeks Deep

(For optimal results, open this link in a separate tab and play the song twice while you read the post… because math.)

Things that I’ve come to learn about Smith:

Clipping bolts is exhilarating. If trad climbing is chess — with all the consideration for pro, extending draws, hitting the deck, etc. — sport climbing is checkers: similar but simpler with instant gratification.

Climbing with guides is awesome. Lucky for me, most of my friends here are guides. Everyone generally has a project and an idea about where the best climbing is. I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of ultra-classic and really-good-but-not-quite-classic climbs. And I’ve gotten the best belays of my life.

Grigri is god here. The ATC that I learned on raises eyebrows — people are all about that assisted braking mechanism. I’ve also gotten a chance to experiment with Edelrid’s Mega-Jul, which I really like for easy lowers and a less-bulky assisted brake.

And lastly, the community here is small but wonderful. Terrebonne (or T-bone as it’s sometimes called) is home to a few really dedicated climbers. I feel lucky to have been so quickly invited in and appreciate everyone’s kindness. It’s been wonderful climbing with people so passionate about this place. I look forward to being an ambassador to my home crags and paying it forward.

Process (Smith Update No. 3)

My hands have gotten tougher.

My heart has gotten softer.

My words mean less.

My relationships mean more.

If there’s any small amount of wisdom that I can impart, it’s that you don’t need to live out of a car to climb a lot and be happy. You don’t need to dirtbag. You don’t need to crush 5.13. You don’t even need to quit your desk job (though you may need to relocate to a desk job where climbing is fairly accessible.)

All you need to do is make climbing (or whatever it is you want to do) your priority, go out and do it. Be brave. Be bold. Just do it.

Smith Update No. 2

Where do I even begin?

I guess I’d like to start by saying a lot has changed since Smith Update No. 1. Bear with me while I wrangle the following ideas into sentences and paragraphs… You might be in for a disjointed, bumpy ride.

My perspective has changed dramatically. When I pulled into Terrebonne, I felt like somewhat of a hotshot because I’d left behind a stable, comfortable job to pursue something I regarded as bold, brave and different (**more on this in the footnotes.) The part of me that appreciates my degree, career aspirations and future was concerned that I was making a reckless and self-indulgent move. But that part of me has since been calmed. For now, I simply pour beers, make coffees and sell people climbing gear.

In the last month, I’ve shared some of the highlights on social media. My Instagram, @pnwclimbergirl, has grown by a few hundred followers. And a month ago, I would’ve been stoked on that. But, like I said, my perspective has changed. My only goals with social media for the time being are to share photos of this place I’ve fallen in love with and keep up with the people that I care about. #idontgiveashitanymore

People walk into and out of my life hour by hour, day by day, week by week. I believe that I’ve built a few relationships that I will carry back with me when I eventually return to Washington; there are also some that will burn brightly and flicker out. (When I said people, I really meant to say climbers.) With each climber that I talk to, I hear a new story, slang term or perspective on this absurd activity that has so completely arrested my attention. I form instant connections with these people because they’re caught up in it, too. In short, I’ve learned a lot.

Here’s the first disjointed thought I’m going to throw at you: I have the utmost respect for people who simultaneously balance a passion for climbing with a professional career, among other things. There’s a really great video about Audrey Sniezek on the balance.

Second disjointed thought: I’m discovering my limitations in what I can do with my time, energies and resources. Truthfully, all I want to do is climb and sustain myself so that I can continue to climb. That’s not so much to ask, right? (Maybe those two thoughts aren’t so disjointed, after all.)

Forgive me if this reads a bit like a self-help book — this is me trying to help myself right now — but I’m just going to tell you like it is:

Don’t be an idiot and listen too intently to peoples’ assessments, judgements and expectations of you. If you’re constantly bound by what you think you should be doing — whether that comes in the form of obligatory relationships, volunteerism and other improvements to your resume, shitty jobs, whatever — just stop already! You’re only going to have yourself to blame in the end. I’d rather be responsible for my most audacious failures than my own misery sourced from endless what-if’s.

 

 

Like it is cont’d: Know your worth. I’ve recently plucked myself from a cycle of giving too much and getting too little while constantly feeling overextended, drained and bad about myself for it. Knowing your worth isn’t about regarding yourself as a hotshot (like I mentioned in the second paragraph); instead its knowing the extent to which you can share your time and talents. It’s more about quality time instead of the quantity of demands on your time.

And I think that’s about all I have to say right now. Hopefully that wasn’t too clunky.

** By no means is picking up, moving to a climbing area and trying to make it happen for yourself “bold, brave and different.” There are lots of people that do this with varying measures of success. And I don’t mean to sound salty, it’s just the reality of the situation. I’m glad I did it and would encourage anyone considering the change to leap forth into the unknown.