by Johanna Bleecker
As an avid rock climber, I always felt comfortable enough in climbing gyms. I would go with both guy and girl friends and on my own, was happy to make friends with other climbers, and never felt overtly discriminated against. Occasionally I would have to put up with others, usually male, giving patronizing tips I hadn’t asked for and didn’t want or trying to engage me in conversations that made me feel uncomfortable.
Then my bouldering gym started a women’s only time, adding a couple extra reserved hours onto their schedule.
Intrigued, my female friend and I went and found something in that space that we hadn’t realized we were missing. Women at all levels of climbing were cheering each other on, there were baked treats, and even the music was female-fronted. The biggest wall, usually overrun by the stronger male climbers, was being climbed by women who said they’d never felt comfortable trying it when the largely male clientele were showing off their skills one after another.