As the marketing & social media Chick here, I have the pleasure of getting to know lots of alumnae through our social networks. I am also lucky because through these same social networks are hundreds of other climbing ladies who I get to “meet” as well. It’s fun simply because there are potential climbing partners I could meet up with, at some of the most famous climbing locations in the U.S. that are the ‘local’ crags to these women – alumnae and not.
It’s also advantageous when a question comes up in our “Chicks Chat” forum, as did this week from a gal who is looking for a climbing partner in the Gunks. Immediately I could think of two gals that climb there regularly (one an alumna, another not), and found another through our social networks. This is part of what I really love about Chicks – getting women out climbing with women! (On a side note, if YOU are looking to find a climbing partner, check out the forum to see if there’s anyone near you or post your own search!)
I myself have been out climbing recently with a fellow alumna – Tonya Williamson (formerly Graham – she’s a newlywed :-)) who has taken part in both the Chicks Rock! and Chicks with Picks programs. Tonya is a North Carolina climber, and she gets outside on a fairly regular basis, in addition to the several days a week she logs at the climbing gym in Charlotte. Tonya has been working on leading moderate trad climbs (of increasing difficulty!) over the past year. Since I’ve never been a real rock climber at heart, it’s great for me to get out and follow someone who not only really loves to climb, but is completely safe in all her systems, and a lot of fun to be around!
I actually have learned quite a bit from climbing with Tonya, especially about staying calm while on lead. Tonya really excels at doing this! One day we were out climbing “Rip Van Winkle” at Table Rock. It is not a line that gets climbed very often, and with trad routes half the difficulty can actually be in route finding sometimes! So I think by the first belay station we had veered off route. Where I would have gotten a bit shaken was in the ‘not knowing what grade I’m leading, nor where this is even going to go’ part of the climbing. But Tonya was totally calm. At the top of a pitch we would look at what options there were for the next one (go left, go right, straight up?), and Tonya would assess – as best she could from that vantage point – where her best gear placement options were. She did not show any signs of stress or anxiety, which was really key to us safely topping out at the end of the day (on what line, I still don’t know!).
This weekend again I’m heading out to climb with Tonya. Just what we will be climbing I don’t know, which is part of the fun for me, as I really work on my face climbing moves for my upcoming Bugaboos trip (although there are some stellar cracks to climb in North Carolina I NEED to work on my confidence with face climbing).
So the point of all this is that there is a great network of Chicks – and friends of Chicks (ladies who climb but haven’t actually come to a clinic) that is out there. We at Chicks want to provide you that platform to get to know other women climbers and share information, resources, tips, tricks, what have you! If you have any ideas for how we could make it better, please share them with us! After all, shouldn’t we all be having fun climbing with fellow Chicks?!?!
P.S. Those of you that are Chicks climbing with Chicks, please send in your “Chicks Sightings” so we can share them! I will definitely be expecting some this summer as I see many of you planning some fun trips together 🙂