2019 Jan/ Hampi
Claw or Climb Like a Woman, is the first ever Indian women’s climbing meet up that just took place in Hampi from December 26th to 30th, 2018.
I initiated organizing Claw because for a few years I had felt that in India, and in other countries there is a lack of mentoring and guidance to teach people newly trying this sport. Often when beginners first start they have to climb with stronger climbers to learn. This can be quite intimidating as stronger climbers will teach beginners on one or two easy boulders and then naturally make their way to harder climbs and beginners are left trying things randomly way above their skill level.
It can be especially intimidating for women and so I had wanted to organize a meet where it would be only women creating an atmosphere of positivity and encouragement while trying/teaching bouldering for over two years now. In a male dominated sport it, it would be refreshing to create an atmosphere of positivity, encouragement and a feeling of security to share anything with each other as we were all women facing the same fears on rocks, sharing the same weaknesses or strengths and helping each other while climbing.
So as soon as I decided to stop procrastinating and get it done, I first contacted Prerna Dangi, Lekha Rathinam, Vrinda bhageria and later Dr. Mel Batson and Inspire crew team Kopal Goyal and Zhen Patil to see if they want to join in on making this event happen. It was an event where complete beginners were mentored by experienced climbers and introduced into the sport the right way with knowledge of how to be safe, how to climb, how to spot and so on. We had 25 women participants at the event and most them had zero or a little bit of experience. By the end of the event all the 25 women bonded and climbed so well that most of them climbed highball boulders and did an excellent job spotting when not climbing themselves. We couldn’t believe that majority of participants were complete beginners due to the bravery and determination they showed on every boulder they climbed. We were proud of the spotting skills learned in particular, as it reduces potential injuries/accidents and keeps climbers safe. Apart from bouldering sessions, we did some slacklining, swimming and an exercise workshop where we taught everyone strength and conditioning exercises along with injury prevention for climbing and stretching/yoga.
We could not have pulled this off without the generous help of our sponsors and our event partner Inspire Crew. Gipfel Climbing Equipment provided us with quality tents and crash pads and we received swag from Decathlon Sports India, Allied Petzl, Climbskin, Deccan Climbing, Organic Climbing, American Alpine Club, The Cliffs at LIC, Adtire, Equilibrium Climbing Station, Godesi, and Adventureworx.
Our hope is to have more women’s events, where experienced women climbers will teach women bouldering, rope climbing, safety standards and more. We need the gap in ratio of men climbing versus women to be bridged and so doing more events where women are introduced in a friendlier atmosphere might grow their confidence in continuing to climb as a regular activity. The main goal though is to create a community and support system for women within the larger climbing community, which will also create closeness and friendships amongst women climbers but also encourage more women to take it up in the future.