Women's Climbing Symposium 2015

What an uplifting event! This year 300 women attended the Women’s Climbing Symposium (that’s more than ever), the line-up of speakers was exceptional and varied, the coaching was of a really high quality and the atmosphere was encouraging and positive. Can we book for next year yet?

“The Women’s Climbing Symposium is an event that aims to connect, inspire and develop women’s climbing through collective climbing experiences, the latest research and the best coaching.”

Swinging around in the movement workshop

That pretty much sums up Mountain Training’s experience of the WCS this year: The Climbing Works in Sheffield was packed full of enthusiastic climbers eager to be connected, inspired and developed. And they were all women! One of the best things about the symposium was that each person gained something different from the day because each person’s experience was tailored. There were five different coaching workshops and eight focus talks to choose from as well as three headline talks from some very accomplished climbers.

Lou Reynolds Women in Industry

Mountain Training’s moment in the spotlight was as part of the ‘Working in the Industry’ focus talk alongside Caro Sinno (entrepreneur and founder of Crimp Oil) and Claire Carter (industry creative consultant). Lou Reynolds did an excellent job of representing Mountain Training and detailed her journey through walking, climbing and mountaineering qualifications to Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC) level at the age of just 23. Lou, Caro and Claire spoke passionately about their careers to date and during the Q&A session at the end, all agreed that working with people who were negative about their position as a women in the industry should be avoided and that having confidence in their ability to succeed has been key. At Mountain Training we’re currently interested in finding out why only 19% of those with our qualifications are female when 36% of participants in walking, climbing and mountaineering are female. If you have any thoughts on this please join the conversation in our Facebook group: Women in Mountain Training.

Practising pull ups

Lunchtime included a surprise screening of ‘Operation Moffat’, a film by Clare Carter and Jen Randell about Gwen Moffat (the first female British Mountain Guide) in which Gwen talked about her experiences in the mountains and Claire took the ‘what would 2015 Gwen do?’ mantra into her own climbing life. If you get an opportunity it’s definitely worth watching this film; it’s very moving and Gwen (now aged 91 and ¾) offers a refreshing perspective on her time in the mountains. I don’t think I was the only one who had a little lump in my throat as a result of such an honest film.

The afternoon was full of more coaching workshops and talks and somehow lots of people managed to squeeze in completing the survey designed by Adele Doran from Sheffield Hallam University about women’s mountaineering holidays which was great. We’re very grateful because the research is also supporting our efforts to bridge the gap in qualified females in the industry. The survey is available to complete until 13th November so if you can spare five minutes we'd really appreciate it.

Crack school with Naomi Buys

As the day drew to a close there were quite a few people who looked like they’d been absorbing information all day (which they had) and they were really pleased about it. For me one of the best things about the day was feeling like I was sharing in other people’s achievements. In the same way that watching British athletes succeed at the Olympics often elicits an emotional response, watching footage of female climbers (or bikers, in the case of Rachel Atherton) achieve their goals, from winning a world cup to climbing an iconic E1, was really uplifting. Psyched to achieve more? Definitely!

Thank you to everyone who helped to organise such an excellent event (especially Shauna Coxsey and Emma Flaherty) and to Rebecca Ting and Libby Peter for getting us involved in the first place.

Nicola Jasieniecka Media & IT Development Officer

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