“You are absolutely glowing.”
That was Seth’s comment to me at dinner the night that I got back from Devil’s Lake. I realized that I was sporting a permanent grin.
I had just returned from a 3-day climbing clinic at Devils Lake, Wisconsin, put on by Chicks Climbing. If you don’t know about them, Chicks Climbing puts on ice and rock climbing clinics around the country. Clinics by women, for women, with a lot of their proceeds going to help women. Read more about them at chicksclimbing.com.
We had climbed all weekend long. In addition to climbing technique, I learned about gear, knots, anchors, gear placement, etc. All things that I wanted to learn this summer.
That aspect of the clinic was fantastic, and I learned a lot. There was also something really powerful about the weekend that I still can’t quite put my finger on. I walked away feeling empowered and capable, and in three days I formed special bonds with a group of incredible women. The weekend turned out to be so much more than a climbing clinic.
The six ladies heading up the clinic were strong, adventurous, badass women, and every one of them was an inspiration. On top of that they were generous, kind, and invested in us as climbers. Our little group was led by Kitty Calhoun. She is a world-class climber and could walk up some of the climbs that I was struggling on, but there was no judgment. She started from where I was, helped me move forward, and celebrated my victories with me. Spending the weekend with these ladies was incredibly inspiring and motivating.
Then there were the climbers. Another group of inspirational ladies. I got to know these women at meals, around the campfire, and up at the crag. A mix of ages, professions, and backgrounds were represented, and all shared a love of climbing. I learned a lot from spending time with these ladies and plans are already being made to climb together.
I went in to the weekend with limited outdoor climbing experience, and lacking confidence on rock. I wanted to improve my skill outdoors (what is my foot going to stick to?) and learn some skills to be more self-sufficient as a climber (building anchors). I came away with all of that. I also learned how to place traditional gear, crack-climbing skills, how to pack my climbing pack, and what poison ivy looks like. Learning all of this from women, in a group of women, with the support of other women, was unique. It was also oddly freeing.
- I didn’t think about what I looked like for 3 days straight.
- An abundance of compassion, support, and friendship were offered right from the start. It was palpable.
- There were tears. Happy tears, exhausted tears, frustrated tears. No explanation was needed for said tears. Everyone just got it.
- Watching other women conquer these routes was incredibly inspiring. Learning from a group of completely badass women: also incredibly inspiring. There’s definitely a feeling of “I can do that, too.”
Overall, it was a great weekend. If you are even considering doing a Chicks Climbing clinic, either ice or rock, I highly recommend it. Save up some cash and go. It was an experience that I will take with me for a long time, and I am already hatching plans to get myself to another one.