Women of Welsford
Women Of Welsford: A Recap
It was a speedy transition from an idea to an ascent. Part of the idea was an excuse to get myself back on the rock since it had been years of outfitting people and climbing taking a back seat. But sometimes you just have to rip it off like a bandaid and make it happen.
The truth is, climbing is a mental game for a lot of people, right from the start. Before you even put hands on the rock, it’s a long drawn out period of hesitation and self doubt. “I don’t have any gear, I don’t know where to go, people will be watching me, can I even do this?”
We often ask women “what do you want to do outside?” A lot of responses are the common “hiking’, “paddling”, “camping”... fairly accessible activities. So when we introduced the climbing day we had no idea if people would show, since it hadn’t been a common answer to our asks. But we were hoping that our ladies would channel their inner Eleanor Roosevelt.
We sold out in 48 hours.
“Do one thing every day that scares you” - Eleanor Roosevelt
So we put the wheels in motion. Enter Sonia, a long time climber and a soft spoken but commanding leader, who was also in charge of tossing out gear in the parking lot like some kind of Outdoor Oprah. I throw this idea at her after we have the conversation that we are both climbing a little less these days. We needed to introduce more women to climbing. She’s into it and we start planning the next day.
Sonia has ties to Ascent NB, which you can read about and donate to here. AscentNB had just gotten a new fleet of gear which they use for their Beginner Rock School and were stoked to support an all women’s group heading out and try climbing.
Once we had our gear and access secured, it was time to rally up the troops. There is no shortage of capable and amazing climbers in this province. Almost every climber who was approached to volunteer for the day was a resounding yes, and also asked to bring along their climbing partner. There is no way that we can possibly make the excuse that there is no one to climb with. So, enter our squad of volunteers.
We start the day off strong with me forgetting my wallet at home while gassing up the transport van. Solid start. Thanks, Renee.
We organize ourselves into a couple of vehicles and make the convoy out to Welsford where we all stop at the iconic Irving. Home of the tall beers, banana bread and the almighty bathroom break. We run into a few regulars of the crag and share a couple laughs and we all gawked at the bug bites they got the day before. Preventatively, we all saturated ourselves in bug dope.
The approach was hot, with little wind and a beaming sun. Everyone’s packs became heavier with their borrowed gear but morale was high and everyone was excited to see the view. Once summitted, the stage (or heli-pad) was set for Heather to lead an hour long yoga class while the rest of the gals set up anchors to secure our routes for the day.
Whether they were laid back in a hammock, or at the edge of their boulder it was all shouts of encouragement and kudos from the peanut gallery while the first group of women took to the wall. Immediately, it was A LOT of giggles; clumsily “feeling up” the rock trying to figure out how to get started and to continue up with minimal wedgie. Once the first layer of skin was left on the granite, determination dug deep and ladies left it all on the rock ascent after ascent.
Totally pumped out, we shakily stuffed burritos, energy balls and various shared snacks into our faces and suited up for the next group. While the second group scurried up the routes, we held an art circle where we painted our landscape and reflected on our time on the rock.
The combination of sunshine, bug swatting, hard work and cooling sweat finally took over and we packed it in and headed back down to our vehicles to convoy back to Fredericton.
There are many places to climb in our province, and no shortage of women who want to climb with you. The UNB Rock & Ice Club offers Ladies Hour from 5-6pm every Wednesday, and The Ville Cooperative has Open Climb on Tuesdays starting at 6pm. I think we made some climbers out of our Welsford Women, and I can’t wait to holla at you from across the crag!