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KCCC Ladies' Trip

posted May 12, 2014, 4:29 PM by Carol Fittell   [ updated Aug 11, 2014, 1:48 PM by Kansas City Climbing Community ]

I started writing a more typical trip report, but got a bit emotional as I excavated the backbone of my desire to host a ladies-only trip. The following is more an exploration of my trials and tribulations as beginning climber than an actual trip report.  

Carol’s Background

So, why a ladies only trip? I suppose if I really dig down deep and ask myself truly why, the answer is because as a new climber myself I found it extremely difficult to find mentorship in the climbing world. Starting with the KU Rock Climbing club I was encouraged to join because I seemed to have fun top roping routes in the gym. I quickly learned to lead climb as my belayer was being taught to lead belay, and on my first outdoor trip my belayer talked me through cleaning anchors after I top roped Emotional Content. As the first few months of my climbing career flew by I finished learning the basics and took off like a storm, never scared because I trusted myself and didn’t know there was anything to fear.

Fast forward to the next spring break. For whatever reason (and I am eternally grateful), Ryan Surface chose me to follow him up 5 pitches of 5.7 climbing on Birdland in Red Rocks, NV. The details are best left for another story, but I ended up spending some quality time by myself at the third belay station and fell in love with the exposure. I remember standing, attached to the rock by two measly pieces of nylon, the ledge to myself with no one to belay, staring out into space as I watched the birds fly below, feeling my heart racing as I filled with euphoria. THIS is where climbing can take you.

I spent the whole next summer trying to find someone to teach me how to trad climb. The people who graciously taught me to lead climb and multipitch were states away. Everyone my climbing partner and I asked told us no. On occasion someone would say yes, but when we tried to make it happen it always fell through. We thought about buying a rack off of Ebay and teaching ourselves, but those people who wouldn’t teach us to use the gear warded us off buying the (used) gear. Finally, late-summer, we asked someone who said yes! 

Embracing the moment.

Moral of the Story

I don’t want others to have to fight as hard as I did to learn the basic principles of rock climbing. I don’t want others to give up because they think it’s too hard, or they’re not good enough. I want others to get a chance to see the sport the way I do. I’m not asking anyone else to love it as I do, nor to choose to climb the way I do, but I want to give them the chance to make up their minds themselves.

Unique Dynamics

The history above explains some of the reasons I like hosting a Ladies’ Trip, but much of it applies more expansively to both genders. The aspect I enjoy most about a female-only climbing trip is the shift in group dynamics. Sure, many of these can apply to other groups, but in my experience these appear more commonly in a female-only crowd.

Learning to simultaneously rappel.

Incredible Positivity

These women help each other out. The amount of support for each individual climber can be astonishing. Not only was each belayer diligent in providing moral (and rope) support, but the rest of the women were just as supportive. Sharing their experiences and what worked for them on the rock, but mostly keeping the climber’s sprits up, not letting them get discouraged by an unsuccessful attempt at a single move. “You can, and you will,” seemed to be the running theme.

Setting Goals

Many of the women had climbed outside before, and each had different goals to accomplish. For those without goals, I set objectives for them, and everyone came out on top. Accomplished goals included: climbing outside, climbing to the top of a route, rappelling, lead belaying, cleaning anchors, setting up top rope anchors from the top, backing up a rappel, and top roping Dead Dog. My main goal for the group was for everyone to have a good time, and for everyone to push themselves.

Facing Fear

Some of the goals the women set for themselves required facing a lot of fear. Add together the previously mentioned dynamics of an all-female group and the setting is perfect for pushing their limits. While it is true that women have a much higher propensity for tears, tears did not stop these women from pushing past their limits and proving that they are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for.

Ode to Sam’s

My final reason for hosting a Ladies’ Trip is to share a place so very close to my heart with others who I hope will also cherish and protect the wild places I so often call home.

Trip Stats

Who: 12 Women (Camille, Julie, Naseem, Merrissa, Amanda, Sandra, Linda, Jordan, Liz, Amanda, Brook, Carol)

What: KCCC Ladies’ Climbing Trip
When
:  April ?? - ??
Where
:  Sam’s Throne, AR
Why
:  See above ;) 

Happy Trails.

-Carol Fittell