More than 130 female climbers from the UK and around the world gathered at the Climbing Hangar in Liverpool last weekend for the second Women's Climbing Symposium, supported by the BMC. Liz Holley went along to find out more.
The sold-out event brought together female climbers of all abilities to watch inspiring presentations and coaching sessions from some of the best female climbers in the UK, including the event’s co-host and bouldering champion Shauna Coxsey, Leah Crane, Lucy Creamer and Lucinda Whittaker.
Coaching sessions, dubbed the ‘Coaching Carousel’, focussed on pushing the limits with footwork, training, dynamic moves and awkward holds.
Jos Vanrenterghem, head of biomechanics at Liverpool John Moores University, offered a fascinating insight into what makes a champion with a presentation entitled ‘Explaining Shauna’.
Rebecca Dent, Team GB’s nutritionist, explained how you can get more out of a training session and reach your optimal climbing weight.
Inspirational tales of women overcoming adversity was a hallmark of the day. Fran Brown, recently crowned para-climbing World Champion, explained how giving up climbing after the accident that left her paralysed and in a wheelchair was never an option.
Shauna Coxsey revealed what she had learned from breaking her leg earlier in the year, an accident that robbed her of competing for second place in this year’s World Cup. The injury, she said, “opened my eyes to what I really needed to do to reach my full potential as a climber and that was to work hard, make sacrifices and listen to others.”
Former British champion and trad genius Lucy Creamer found herself facing a longer-term battle with injury and she talked movingly about the mental barriers she had to overcome to get back to leading. She had, she explained, needed to figure out who she was as a person and was happy to quote Dolly Parton’s mantra that if you want a rainbow you need to put up with the rain.
Women’s place in the media was the subject of a passionate discussion following a presentation by Dave Simmonite, editor of Climber magazine.
This was the second WCS, the brainchild of Coxsey and Stephanie Meysner, Climbing Hangar director and sociologist. It is, according to Meysner, the only event of its kind in Europe.
Their mission is to create an environment that was welcoming to women from every background and all abilities – and share best practice in climbing techniques and training methods. That ambition seems to have been realised.
One climber told me: “Today’s coaching sessions have given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to leading and pushing my grade.”
Breaking down barriers to participation and showcasing the talent we already have is a sure way to continuing the great success women’s climbing is currently experiencing in Britain – and the symposium spearheads that process. There are plans to bring it to London for 2013.
Watch video of the event here