When we speak of rock climbing, our minds usually drift to the male dominated world of professional climbers. From what we know, the sport is dominated by men for a multitude of reasons and frankly, this isn’t really a matter of debate. The facts are clear, women occupy a very small niche of the overall climbing community.
Men Vs Women In Rock Climbing
On a recent trip to the climbing gym, I inadvertently stumbled on a scale showing that the average male climber weighs about 175 pounds and stands at 5 feet 9 inches, while the average woman came in at just under 120 pounds and 5 feet 6 inches. What struck me is that the women had better technique than their male counterparts. They were able to climb many of the advanced routes with ease. It made me ask myself if gender actually plays a part in this sport. I mean, I’d always considered myself pretty good at rock climbing and yet I was clearly outclassed by a girl not even a third my size. It made me wonder if women were better climbers than men.
Rock Climbing Is More Becoming Gender Neutral
I started to think more about this issue when I saw a video of a female climber named Sanni McCandless ascending one of the toughest routes known to man. She had climbed this route numerous times, but this time she was much faster than just a few years ago. According to Sanni, training for the climb has allowed her to move at a much quicker pace and she’s just gotten better at climbing over time.
Of course there are many contributing factors to Sanni’s improved climbing performance. Perhaps her training regimen or diet can help explain why she has gotten faster, but the main point that stands out is how science has changed our perception of gender in climbing.
Training For Rock Climbing
One of the most important ways to improve your climbing ability is to train for climbing. Rather than randomly going out and trying to climb hard routes, you should follow a structured training regimen that takes into account each of the factors needed for optimal performance; strength, endurance and technique.
For example, if you can push a weighted sled for thirty seconds but then fail after twelve seconds it would indicate that you have poor technique. Likewise, if you can push a weighted sled for thirty seconds but then fail after three minutes, it would be an indication that you have poor endurance. In the case of Sanni, it could be that she has poor endurance or good technique or in any other case, it could be some combination of both.
It is hard to read your own training results but one way to learn is through visualization. Tie a weight to a rope and climb up. As you move from hold to hold, try and visualize the correct body positions for each small movement and keep them in mind as you train.
To really get faster, you need to improve your technique so don’t miss out on the chance to learn from a climbing instructor and pay attention to other climbers. Watch them climb and try to emulate their movements while also trying not to copy their mistakes.
More Women Are Getting Stronger
The biggest strides forward for women in rock climbing have been made by those who are willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears needed for success. Like Sanni, these women have been willing to stick with their training programs and put in the hours to become better climbers. As a result, they’ve been able to make big improvements in less time than it would take others.
We Can All Just Climb!
Women who are willing to put in the work have been rocketing out of the starting gate over the last few years. It is a great thing that more women are getting stronger and faster but there is still quite a ways to go before we see true gender equality between men and women in rock climbing.