Meandering down the sandy trail of the Happy Boulders this past Sunday, I stopped to take in one last sweeping vista before hopping into my car to leave Bishop—a goodbye I always dread.

Snow and rain were falling from every angle of the sky, while the relentless wind whipped against my sun-soaked face. Nonetheless, I was beaming from the energy that surrounded.

These were by no means prime sending conditions … but none of that mattered to the hundreds of women out embracing the elements of the Eastern Sierra during the closing hours of the 2nd Annual Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival.

That energy—so palpable in the air—oozed with celebrations of freedom, psych, and a shared love for rock climbing.

But you should know:

This event was never really about the climbing anyways.

Since the day last year’s Women’s Climbing Festival ended, women from every corner of the community—having attended or not—were already rallying for the next.

Not because we were dying to shred our skin in the Buttermilks and eat Burger Barn every day (albeit a perk), but because we craved the connectivity and inspiration that we as female climbers naturally cultivate when we come together.

In a sense, the inaugural Women’s Climbing Festival showed us both the value and scarcity of something we didn’t fully know we were missing; namely, a comfortable space for us to fully be ourselves and support one another.

And with the past year’s shitshow of frightening political events, I think we were all begging for another opportunity to unify …

So we did just that.

Already, from the opening party at Bishop’s Mountain Rambler Brewery, we had ample successes for the female climbing community to celebrate. With Margo Hayes’ 5.15 send of La Rambla and Nina Williams‘ swoop of high ball Ambrosia (V11) just days before the festival, the stoke factor kicked the festival off at an all-time high.

Hoots, hollers, and high fives could be seen in just about every direction, at every hour of the weekend. From the engaging discussion of the Women in Climbing panel to athlete-led clinics and the No Man’s Land Film Festival, there was no shortage of girl power vibes emanating across Bishop’s beautiful landscapes.

The 2017 #WomensClimbingFestival once again gave women of the climbing community the tools to openly share our stories, build relationships, learn from one another, and work together to foster the future that we want to see.

We know we still have much work to do to elevate women in climbing and in the world—but we’re prepared to do it together.

I still don’t have the answer to why or how the simple act of women coming together and climbing rocks creates such a profound experience, but I assure you—with the backing of at least 275 other women—that it abso-fucking-lutely does.

And while bidding adieu to Bishop never feels easy, I’m happy to have said goodbye with raw tips, new friends, a tremendously full heart, and a renewed membership to our growing tribe of female climbers.

A big thank you to Flash Foxy founder and Women’s Climbing Festival organizer, Shelma Jun for another magical year! Looking forward to many more to come!

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