A Recap of the 2016 Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival and What It Means for Female Climbers

I left Bishop, California after the first ever Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival this weekend with far more than I—or perhaps any single one of us—could have bargained for. Sure, I headed home with my usual raw tips, sore shoulders, and belly full of obligatory Burger Barn noms … But I also left that big beautiful place with a stoke and rejuvenation about something much more profound than just pulling on rocks.

I could easily delve into a long rant about how significant the sheer existence of an all-women’s festival has been in light of the hysteria surrounding topics of sexism, FFAs, and other what-have-yous within our community. I could focus on how strongly it reiterated the undebatable fact that women should choose for themselves how and what they do with their voices and their bodies—or as more powerfully echoed during the Women in Climbing Panel Discussion:

do whatever the fuck they want to do.

 

All of that should be clear as day. So instead, I’ll focus on the more compelling and often-overlooked truth that surfaced during the Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival. And it actually boils down to something pretty damn simple:

Women climbing with women is absolutely fucking amazing.

Flash Foxy Women's Climbing Festival
All photos: The RV Project. A group of ladies working Every Color You Are (V6) together in the Happys.

Have you ever experienced that magical moment when you’re climbing and your friends shout the exact beta and encouragement that you need to hear at just the right time? Almost as if it wasn’t just you—but an entire posse of you and your biggest fans—sending the route in unison?

Imagine that scenario on crack.

Times 100.

Spanning virtually every single corner of your periphery.

Beginner climbers—embarking on their first outdoor experience ever—were sending Buttermilks highballs. Athletes like Daila Ojeda, Carrie Cooper, Colette McInerney, and Babsi Zangerl were working beta on classic problems alongside lady crushers from ages 6 to 60 years old. Troves of female send trains on newly-achieved grades were cropping up from left and right. All the while, high-fives, group photos, and snack parties of the highest caliber transpired from all angles.

Daila Ojeda and Babsi Zangerl sussing out some problems in the Buttermilks.
Daila Ojeda and Babsi Zangerl sussing out some problems in the Buttermilks.
Flash Foxy Women's Climbing Festival
Lots of pads and sending support.
Flash Foxy Women's Climbing Festival
A climber working her way up the tiny crimps of Mr. Witty (V6) with the help of her spotter.

I vividly recall one scene in particular.

After meandering down from the Happy Boulders plateau overlook following a day of inspiring skill-building clinics, I came upon a view of female climbers working the classic highball, Black Magic (V3). Watching from afar, I was taken aback by the beauty of the events that unfolded.

A powerful silence took hold as one climber started up the tenuous lower slab section; beginning to move in that palpable holy shit I don’t want to fall sort of way. The crew of spotters below suddenly began unleashing resounding words of encouragement to the climber above … and then, as if responding to an unspoken bird call, women from all corners of the canyon joined in, vocalizing their support in unison.

The often cliché-feeling phrases,

You got this!

Super strong!

Stay with it!

exploded in the air, and suddenly didn’t feel cliché at all.

The climber sent that problem. And in that same collective manner, a send train had been sparked. One, two, and then three climbers made it atop that boulder as a team. Never before had I so potently felt the magic of climbing … while not even climbing at all.

I couldn’t help but feel an outburst of joy and vitality ripple through every bone in my body. This, I thought to myself, is what climbing is all about.

Flash Foxy Women's Climbing Festival
A climber working her way up Black Magic (V3).

THAT was the scene of this weekend—a seemingly endless proliferation of psych-inducing connectivity and support amongst women. Just scroll through the #womensclimbingfestival feed on Instagram and you’ll see exactly what I mean …

I’ll say it again:

Women climbing with women is absolutely fucking amazing.

Is it due to our hormones vibing? Our insecurities diminishing and comfort zones expanding? Our opportunities for excuses lessening and confidence being empowered? Or simply the fact that the beta we share with one another is ACTUALLY USEFUL?!

Flash Foxy Women's Climbing Festival 3
Ladies sharing beta on the Serengeti Boulder in the Happys.

Whatever it is that happens when a group of females climb together—or better yet over 150 all at once—it’s evident that some mysterious undercurrent of magnetism arises and opens the door to unforgettable experiences.

Unforgettable 

is a great way to describe the first ever, Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival. I’ll cross my fingers that it won’t be the last.

Flash Foxy Women's Climbing Festival
A send train celebration on the Southwest ArĂŞte (5.9) in the Buttermilks. All photos: courtesy of The RV Project.

A huge thank you to Shelma Jun —Flash Foxy founder and Women’s Climbing Festival organizer—for volunteering an enormous amount of her time and heart into this grassroots event. You’ve left us all inspired and ever-stoked for more girl crew adventures to come!


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