February 26, 2017: 19 year-old Margo Hayes sent La Rambla (5.15a) in Siruana, Spain. Later that day, 15 year-old Laura Rogora sent Joe-Cita (5.14d) in Oliana, Spain. Then 22 year-old Michaela Kiersch sent Southern Smoke (5.14c) and Fifty Words for Pump (5.14c) during the same session at Red River Gorge, Kentucky. The following day, 26 year-old Nina Williams sent Ambrosia (V11), a 50-foot highball boulder in Bishop, California. And a month ago, 27 year-old Alex Puccio won her 10th Bouldering Nationals title while 15 year-old Ashima Shiraishi claimed 2nd place. With Women’s History Month upon us, we can add these amazing accomplishments to the long running list of inspirational achievements by the women of climbing.
Throughout climbing history, we have seen numerous ferocious females dominate the walls. Free climbing pioneer Lynn Hill was the first person, man or woman, to free climb one of Yosemite’s most infamous lines “The Nose” in 1993. In 2005, Josune Bereziartu became the first woman to send a 5.14d/5.15a, and Ashima’s send of Open Your Mind Direct is still being disputed as a 5.15a since a critical hold broke before she climbed it when it was previously rated at 5.14d.
Climbing is a sport of equality, as everyone is playing on the same field. All genders, all body types are climbing the same projects. However, when climbing began it was a predominately male sport. The view back then was that you had to be “strong like a man” in order to climb, so few women entered the world of climbing. It wasn’t until inspirational climbers like Lynn Hill that women started to see that they could do just as well in this sport as men, if not better!
Today, there are more female climbers entering the sport than ever before because of this new generation of top tier athletes creating new climbing history every day. It is essential for these young women to continue to inspire future generations of climbers to break even more barriers. Women like Margo Hayes are the reason why countless new faces are inspired to go out of their comfort zone and push their limits physically, mentally, and socially.
Come out and celebrate Women’s History Month with Movement today by checking out the Leading Ladies of Climbing group (meets Wednesday at different Movement locations)!