February 19-21, 2016 will mark the inauguration of a brand new climbing festival in Bishop, California—but this one won’t be your average climber gathering … The Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival will be an all-out celebration of female climbers coming together from across the US.
In this interview with Flash Foxy founder, Shelma Jun, we get the scoop on what inspired the makings of this all-women’s festival, what awesome events participants can expect, and details for how it will evolve into the future:
What is Flash Foxy and how did it inspire the makings of an all-women’s festival?
Flash Foxy is a multi-media platform to highlight, inspire and support the women’s climbing community. Flash Foxy began almost two years ago as an Instagram account to post pictures of the amazing ladies whom I climbed with in NYC, and share our experiences as women climbing with other women.
Through Flash Foxy I started to connect with and meet so many awesome ladies all throughout the US. I also started to receive a lot of messages from women expressing a desire for more opportunities to climb with other women. This, coupled with how much fun we had during our ladies only trips, began to brew into the idea of an all women’s climbing festival.
Why do you believe there is a need for an all women’s festival?
There are several reasons why there is a need and more importantly, a huge desire for an all women’s festival:
- First, many women are looking for safe spaces to explore climbing and their personal progression within climbing. Many of the women that are attending the festival are new climbers who have no or limited experience climbing outdoors. It can be really intimidating to be a new climber at an indoor gym and move into outdoor climbing.
- Second, when women lead/teach/guide/climb with women, it reinforces the notion that we can be the experts and the leaders in climbing as well as the outdoors more generally. It also provides opportunities for women to be in leadership roles and gain experience teaching and sharing their climbing knowledge.
Related: Sexism and Rock Climbing: A Conversation That’s Still Worth Having
- Third, the festival provides an opportunity for women to come together, share our personal experiences and connections to climbing and support each other. The Women In Climbing Panel will highlight the experiences and thoughts of women professionally involved in climbing as athletes, guides and members of the climbing industry.
- Finally, it is clear that there is a huge desire from women in the climbing community for something like this festival to happen. We’ve had an incredibly positive response to the festival. The festival, which is limited to 150 participants in our first year, sold out within 24 hours and we have a large waiting list. Participants range from women who’ve never climbed before to veteran climbers who’ve been climbing for 15+ years.
What sort of impact do you hope to inspire from this festival?
- Foster and build a strong network and community of female climbers in the US.
- Provide newer climbers the opportunity to come to a safe space to learn new skills from other women.
- Provide more experienced climbers with the opportunity to gain experience being leaders and sharing their experiences with others.
- Create a space where women can have discussions and conversations about issues that affect or interest the female climbing community.
- Highlight awesome female athletes, entrepreneurs, guides, filmmakers, photographers, and industry leaders that are killing it in the climbing community.
- Have lots of fun and climb lots of rocks!
What clinics and events can attendees expect?
One of the most exciting events will be the Women In Climbing Panel with Julie Ellison (Climbing Magazine), Katie Lambert (Professional Climber), Colette McInerney (Professional Climber and Videographer/Photographer), and Kelly Fields (Guide and Founder of Chicks with Nuts).
Related: Climber Spotlight: Colette McInerney
We’ll also have slide shows by Daila Ojeda and Babsi Zangeral, a diverse offering of clinics and workshops led by so many awesome women, and we’re partnering with an all-female adventure film festival,No Man’s Land Film Festival, to show a selection of their awesome films. There will also be yoga sessions, vendors, climbing demos, contests, and a ton of raffle giveaways from some of our awesome sponsors.
A full schedule of events can be found on our website, www.flashfoxy.com/wcf.
Why did you choose Bishop as the destination, and will it always be the hub?
One of the main reasons for choosing Bishop is that it offers bouldering, sport climbing and trad climbing. I didn’t want the festival to exclude anyone who might only focus on one of these types of climbing. There aren’t that many places that fit that bill. Another reason is that the Eastern Sierra is one of the most beautiful places in the world!
I think there is a possibility that the festival could move after a couple years. The location of the festival makes it much easier for women on and near the West Coast to attend the festival. I want women from all over to have the opportunity to attend.
Related: Climbing Destination Guide: Bishop, CA
How do you think the festival will evolve overtime?
There are so many ways that the festival can evolve over time! This is our very first year and we’re trying out a lot of things; some of them are fairly standard for climbing festivals and other parts are unique. I think we have the opportunity to continue to push the boundaries of what these kinds of gatherings can do.
I’d also like to be able to accommodate more attendees. It’s really heartbreaking to have to turn women away who are so excited. Ideally, we could have space for as many women who’d want to attend.
Anything else you want you share?
I just want to take a moment to thank all the amazing women who have volunteered their time and expertise and our sponsors for their support of the Women’s Climbing Festival. We can’t wait to see many of you in Bishop next month!
For more details on the 2016 Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival, visit the website.
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