Is the Future Female?

There’s a lot of hype right now in the outdoor world about women in the outdoors.

And for good reason.

The tides are finally changing, and woman are stepping into bold new roles. We’re seeing more women in the outdoors, more women (and men!) advocating for women in the outdoors, and more non-profits, organizations, and companies dedicated to woman than I can keep track of.

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Photo by Utomo Hendra Saputra on Unsplash

It. Gets. Me. So. Stoked.

Because when you look back over the course of history, the sh*t women had to put up with is pretty abysmal.

Like when Arlene Blum wanted to trek Denali and was told women weren’t allowed past the kitchen at base camp.

Or when Margaret Smith Craighead, Margaret Bedell, Ann Sharples, and Mary Whittemore made the first female ascent of Owen-Spalding on the Grand Teton, and the Salt Lake Tribune wrote, “Another successful invasion in the field of sport by the weaker sex.”

WHAT.

Yeah, it was a common thing.

Even earlier this year, when Austin, TX mayor, Steve Adler, decided to host an all-female showing of Wonder Woman, a livid man sent in a letter saying, “the notion of a woman hero is a fine example of women’s eagerness to accept the appearance of achievement without actual achievement,” and “achievements by the second rate gender pale in comparison to virtually everything great in human history which was accomplished by men, not women.”

I literally cannot even. Literally. Cannot. Even.

Even looking at our political landscape: our current Vice President OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA thinks women shouldn’t be paid the same rate as men for the same amount of work.

Sigh.

I promise you, though, we have come a long way.

Because despite the amount of backlash women’s programs have received in the past year (and the past entire history of mankind), women have defended their rights, and gained momentum. The Women’s March garnered at least 3.3 million protesters across the nation.

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Photo by Roya Ann Miller on Unsplash

H O W E V E R

We may be doing ourselves a disservice by saying the future is female.

For too long, women were undervalued. Their opinions weren’t respected, they couldn’t run/swim/bike fast enough, and they didn’t ‘deserve’ the rights of men. I want to be very, very clear here, I am 100,000% for women’s rights, for equality across the board, and for every woman who believes she can. I am not, however, about promoting women in a way that demotes men.

Men are pretty awesome. I think they’ve gotten a lot of flack for their past transgressions (and by “their past” I mean all the men who made a bad name for the lot thousands of years ago). Take my husband for example. He’s a feminist. He supports my career. He washes the dishes and does the laundry. He’s kind, generous, strong, empathetic, and courageous.

The future, I hope, is symbiotic. I hope this movement empowers women to come alongside men so that both genders are recognized for their strength, courage, and all the talents they bring to the table. We’re not one better than the other, but we are better together.

So yeah, the future has a lot more female influence (THANK GOD), but I hope we can play to the strengths of both genders to create a more peaceful future.

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Photo by Matt Heaton on Unsplash


Photos courtesy of Unsplash

Why You Should Learn to Lead Climb

As with any sport, climbing follows a natural progression.

First you learn to boulder. Then you try out top-roping. Eventually you muster up the courage to try lead climbing. And once the fear from lead climbing subsides, you test your luck on gear. Generally. I know people who have done this in reverse, or skipped an element all together. It’s all in the eyes of the climber.

For about four years I was content letting someone (usually my boyfriend or another really strong male friend), lead the climb and set up the top rope for me. Then I’d willfully flail around on the thing for however long, maybe make it to the chains, maybe not, be lowered, maybe get grouchy for being such a terrible climber, rinse, repeat.

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Let me say, there is nothing wrong with top-roping. In fact, top-roping is an essential and useful aspect in learning how to climb. The falls are more protected, you can hone in on your technique, and it requires little know-how. Top-roping plays a vital role in climbing.

This is sticky, so bear with me.

Before I learned how to lead climb I was always dependent on someone else. I needed someone with a higher skillset than my own to hang draws and set-up the rope for me. Climbing wasn’t my own. I couldn’t call up just anyone to go climbing, I had to call someone who would be willing to take me out and do the work for me.

The more I went out and lacked the skills to set-up my own climb, the less empowered I felt.

In fact, I started to feel everything but empowered.

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I understand teamwork and collaboration. I value the power of we. And climbing is far from a solo endeavor. You need a partner. You need a catch. You need a spotter.

Like every good partnership, however, it can easily become exhausting when one partner is doing all the work. I noticed this in my relationship with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time of these revelations). I wanted to be this strong, independent woman, but I was unable to own my climbing. And it was so easy to use him as a sort of crutch. I started thinking, if he hadn’t come into my life, would I be climbing at all?

I needed climbing to be a thing for me. I needed it to be something I did because I could. At that point, I couldn’t just go out and climb because I lacked the skills.

So, I learned to lead climb.

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And yeah, lead climbing is terrifying. While it gets less terrifying over time (and then ups the terrifying levels when you least expect it), learning to lead climb is scary and uncomfortable and if you’re anything like me, can be downright paralyzing at times.

When you’re first starting out, it’s type II fun, for sure.

But once you start hitting that flow on lead, and you realize that every fall won’t be your last, you tap into a part of yourself that believes you can.

For the first time in my climbing career, I’ve been able to go out and project 5.12 with some incredible, crusher, badass ladies. I’ve introduced women to the sport. I’ve been able to setup top-ropes for beginner climbers on routes they wouldn’t have been able to try otherwise.

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I love this circle.

So to all of you out there, who want to try lead climbing, but are maybe scared (or, like I was, downright terrified), I encourage you to try it. Take a class. I know the gyms in Salt Lake offer lead climbing classes on a regular basis. There are also dozens, maybe hundreds of people in climbing communities who are more than willing to mentor and encourage new climbers.

So get out there, and get scared.

 



 

**All pictures courtesy of my dashing, and incredibly talented husband, Coby Walsh. You can follow him on Instagram @icoby24