Womens Climbing Symposium 2012

The level of female climbing is being taken to new extremes across the globe. Within the past few weeks there has been significant break throughs in the sport. Tomoko Ogawa became the first ever woman to climb V14, unbelievably inspirational! Another inspirational female and one of my own personal hero’s is Ashima Shiraishi who recently climbed two 8c+’s the first on her 6th day on, the second on her 7th day on. (I get tired after two days climbing). This young lady is only 11 years old and she has also climbed V13 a desire I am yet to accomplish myself.

 It’s great to see females pushing the boundaries of our sport but the womens climbing symposium was about all female climbers… I started climbing at a really young age and grew up in the climbing world. A couple of years back I started coaching a ladies night at The Climbing Hangar, doing this highlighted my ignorance to so many issues that many females face in the climbing community. Both psychological and physical barriers that had never been apparent in my own climbing. The womens climbing symposium was a day designed to celebrate our sport bringing a sense of community and togetherness. 



Our mission statement was to connect, inspire and develop womens climbing through collective climbing experiences, the latest research and the best coaching… I believe we achieved this! 

 For the past six months or so myself and Stephanie Meysner have dedicated our time to organising this unique event. I would like to state, simply for those who think we did this for commercial reasons, that neither of us made a penny from the day. 

Friday the 2nd of November, Steph and I were up early and out for a run. It was a beautiful sunny morning with a light mist glistening in the cold wintery air. It had been a late night as we were up planning our opening speech, thinking of jobs and generally getting nervous. The run allowed for some time to clear our heads and start the day feeling satisfied that we had already been productive. After a delicious Bold St Coffee breakfast the mental preparation day began. Lots of errands to run, things to be picked up, get delivered and set up. At midnight we were sat in the office at The Climbing Hangar with two good friends yet again going over our opening speech nervous but very excited too.

Saturday 3rd of November, the morning of the second Womens Climbing Symposium at The Climbing Hangar, Liverpool. Floods of enthusiastic, psyched women were coming through the door and it wasn’t even 9 o’clock. The energy in the building was high and my own apprehension was growing. 10AM came: Steph and I stood in front of 130 women, some of whom had travelled from as far as Spain and Switzerland, all of these women were there because we had told them the day was going to be amazing. The pressure was on but we were confident that the 2012 Womens Climbing Symposium was going to be incredible. 

The day began with coaching workshops taking place and a talk from Jos Vanrenterghem – Head of Biomechanics at LJMU titled ‘Explaining Shauna’. I didn’t get to hear much of this talk but as far as I am aware the conclusion was basically that I am nothing special, I have just spent a very large amount of my life climbing and that put with my crazily high level of motivation and determination has lead to my current position on the world stage. The coaching workshops all seemed to go really well. This year we had participants sign up to two workshops from a choice of four. I really wanted people to come away from the event with something useful and instrumental to their own climbing. The workshops were an hour long and repeated 4 hours throughout the day, the coaches worked extremely hard and were brilliant. 



I have to give a massive thank you to every one of the the coaches who gave their time away from work and family for little more than travel expenses. Leah Crane, Ellie Howard, Lucinda Whittaker, Diane Merrick, Suzan Dudink, Emma Twyford, Kitty Wallace and Audrey Seguy THANK YOU! 


During lunch  we played an inspiring and exclusive clip of Hot Aches Productions new film ‘Odyssey’ and also a clip from Jen Randall’s new film ‘Push It’. Both of these movies are released soon and both got me super psyched! I would recommend you check them out! Fran Brown was next to talk. A few months back I saw a video of Fran climbing at The Arch and I could not believe I hadn’t heard of her before. At the world Championships in Paris I saw Fran’s awesome performance that claimed her the World Para-Climbing title. She is one of the most inspirational women I had ever seen and I wanted to do what I could to help her to share her story and with that raise awareness for para-climbing. 

 Fran’s talk was heartfelt, motivational and truly inspiring. The reaction from the crowd was amazing! You can follow Fran on her blog HERE

Lucy Creamer, one of the UK’s most accomplished climbers, was up next to give a talk on Injury and Identity. It was evident from the reactions of the crowd that a lot of people could relate to Lucy’s words. Injury is something that many of us have faced and it can almost be comforting to to know that other people find it difficult and challenging. 

 The next coaching session took place parallel to GB Team nutritionist Rebecca Dent’s talk – Food for fitness and health – keeping you firing on all cylinders. Teaching people how they can get more from their climbing sessions. Lot’s of questions and notes taken during this talk so hopefully the ladies took so useful information away. Time to drink lots of chocolate milk!

After this there were only two talks left to take place. David Simmonite’s talk on women in the climbing media and my own talk. David’s talk was chaired by Audrey Seguy and went really well. David (editor of Climber Magazine) has to be credited as we asked many media representatives to attend the event and it was only David Simmonite who accepted our invitation. His talk provoked some interesting comments and it was clear that there were very mixed opinions from people in the crowd. David Simmonite on the back of his presentation made a great offer to the women at the event: he has put aside a space in Climber, one of the most read climbing magazines in the UK, for a submission (written, photo or both) from a woman that attended the event. If it’s worthy, not only will he publish it, he will pay standard journalistic rates! This is a fantastic opportunity to contribute towards the construction of our climbing media and possibly start a career as a professional journalclimberist. 

I have to admit that I could not fully engage in David’s talk as I was beginning to get quite nervous about my talk. It had been a long day, I was quite tired and my voice was sore. I remember when I started my blog at the beginning of this year I wondered if any one would be interested, who would read it and why? I was starting to think similar thoughts now, did people want to hear about my year, would it be interesting enough? The number of people who read my blog has grown beyond a figure I could ever have imagined and I had planned my talk to try and allow other people to relate to what I was saying. 

It was a little bit of a shaky start but before long I was in the flow of describing the ups and downs of being on the world cup stage and the roller coaster ride that has been my life for this past year. The doors opened including sponsorship, coach, meeting amazing people and traveling the world. And then the barriers faced, the realisation that being on the world cup scene means giving everything to climbing which has resulted in some relationships in my life ending and traveling alone can be hard. I talked a lot about trying hard, it took me 15 years of climbing to discover that trying hard can transform a climbing experience and it’s not just at a high level that it can make a difference. Everyone can try hard, push their own personal boundaries and get more from their experiences.

 I hope my talk ended the day on a high. After awarding a few prizes, thanking everyone for coming, the participants the coaches, talkers and our helpers on the day (especially my sisters) it was time to say goodbye. The Womens Climbing Symposium was over for another year.

I personally think that Steph and I did a pretty good job! We worked hard and it was all totally worth it! 



Thank you to the sponsors of the Womens Climbing Symposium 2012… The BMC, UKC, Crimp Oil, Five Ten, Gear for Girls and Cotswold

Nick Brown from Outcrop Productions is currently working on putting together a video of the day so in the next couple of weeks we will be releasing that! Exciting! Mike South who was also filming on the day is working on producing videos of the individual talks that took place on the day. So keep checking on here and our Facebook page for those! Also our forum is now up and running. There is a bit of a delay in getting things rolling on there but HERE is the link. 

It’s quite an unusual feeling having nothing but climbing to think about now. In the back of my mind for the past few months I have had symposium thoughts floating about constantly. Now it’s time to get focused on training and climbing on ROCK! 




more WCS photos to come very soon! 


One Response to “Womens Climbing Symposium 2012

  • Keep on trying. Nice to read such a nice get together. Thanks for sharing