Chicks Climbing and Skiing held their inaugural New River Gorge rock climbing clinic July 15-17. Erin Larsen and myself were the guides for the weekend. Seven energetic and motivated ladies joined the clinic. Some ladies came with friends and others came solo in hopes to find new partners. We even had a mother and her 13 year-old daughter come to the clinic. We all came together as strangers, but left as friends and future climbing partners.
This rock climbing clinic was unique in that all seven ladies considered themselves level 3 climbers. This meant that everyone had some climbing experience and wanted to work on skills for leading sport climbs outside. As guides, this made our jobs easy. Our goal was clear – we were to focus on lead climbing skills to ascend and descend single pitch climbs. The information was delivered in a fun and memorable way. Each woman left the clinic with the skills and confidence to go and climb safely on their own.Even though the women had prior knowledge and exposure to rock climbing, the group still experienced some firsts over the weekend. One woman camped and climbed outside for her first time ever. Many women learned the appropriate use of a Grigri. Other women finally learned the importance of body positioning. For the guides, facilitating this growth and providing a comfortable environment for “firsts” is very rewarding.
Overall the clinic was a huge success. The American Alpine Club campground was a perfect base camp. The Fayetteville climbing community welcomed us with open arms and the Chicks felt the local love. The Gorge is a magical place and we will be back again next year to do it all over again.