Sterling: an awesome rope company who sponsored the event.
Girly: don’t be afraid of this word, yup we are girls who aren’t afraid to be tough and feminine at the same time!
Gathering: like-minded, kindred-spirits together in one place…namely, to go rock climbing.
When you drive into Fayetteville, the sign says “coolest little town”…a bit presumptuous but true! It’s an awesome location for the Sterling Rope Girly Gathering! Especially when you have a contact like Elaina Smith at New River Mountain Guides to show us the ropes. It’s not her first rodeo as she helped organize this event when it was the Sterling Goddess Gatherings a few years back. We’ve resurrected these clinics with a new twist “Chicks” style. It’s hard to describe what that style is, but it I do believe it’s unique to Chicks Climbing.
Girly Guide Angela Hawse and I traveled together from Ridgway to the event and arrived a couple days early to check out the area before the ladies arrived. Most women stayed at the group campsite at Cantrell Ultimate Rafting which was a great base camp five minutes from town and 10 minutes from the climbing areas. Our other local Girly Guides were Diane Kearns from Winchester, VA and Jill Gallagher from Tallmadge, OH. Both amazing women and wonderful additions to Chicks Rock!
The participants arrived Friday night in time for pizza, salad and beverages. We handed out demo gear, signed waivers and did introductions. The tone was set with talk about the history, philosophy and intent behind Chicks Climbing. Then the women broke off into their smaller climbing groups with their guides and talked about their aspirations for the weekend. By this time, everyone felt familiar with each other and learned they each shared similar desires for the upcoming two days.
On Saturday the groups climbed at the Bridge Buttress and the Junkyard, both offering a wide variety of climbing and with moderate routes for our beginner to intermediate climbers. The ladies were out all day learning new techniques and skills according to the level they were signed up for. It was a full day! We had time for showers before our catered dinner arrived at the pavilion near our campsite; the women enjoyed chatting and getting to know each other over a BBQ style meal. Afterwards, we gathered around the campfire and opened it up for the women to ask our professional guides questions. Things like greatest accomplishments and future goals came to mind. We then turned it around and asked our participants the same question. It was fun to learn what we each of us dream and aspire to do with this one precious life.
Sunday the groups switched locations and continued to learn rappel and anchor techniques beyond getting mileage on the rock. It started to rain, so both groups retreated to dry caves to continue with more elaborate anchor systems before it was time to wrap up at 2 p.m. We met one last time as a group and our guides gave the ladies their certificates and said something about each woman. The women in turn, talked about what they learned and are taking away with them.
I guess this is what gives Chicks our unique “style” I spoke about – that value of the experience that goes far beyond the rock.