Introducing our third-ever Women’s Issue.
I BEGAN CLIMBING 30 years ago at age 15, and consider myself fortunate to have had women teachers and mentors from the get-go. Adair Peterson, an instructor with the New Mexico Mountain Club, taught me how to arrest a falling climber. And out at Albuquerque’s sharp, granitic U-Mound Boulders, Kathy Kocon and Jessica Gladstone, two steel-fingered locals from town, showed me and my fellow teenage miscreant friends how to climb gracefully and send the hardest problems. These women helped teach me what it meant to be a climber.
In the late 1980s, women and kids were outliers in a sport populated by adult men, which is probably why we gravitated toward each other. Things have changed, however—more women and young people climb than ever, thanks in no small part to the gym explosion—and that’s a good thing. Climbing is for everybody, a shift in the landscape we’ve tried to reflect on these pages. First, Noël Phillips details the rise of women in climbing (p.22). Then, Yosemite badasses Alexa Flower and Miranda Oakley offer a Guide’s Tip (p.40) on safer rappelling and help us survive the deadly Valley with their investigation of five recent Yosemite accidents (p.44). Megan Walsh takes us through a 200-plus-year timeline of women’s achievements in the hills (p.54). We learn why women should not train “like small men” from Drew Higgins (p.60). Julie Ellison profiles Jaime Logan, formerly Jim, a pioneering Colorado climber who transitioned to become a woman in the past five years (p.66). And journalist Alex Lubben sprints to keep up with the Iranian speed climber Farnaz Esmaeilzadeh (p.72).
This issue marks only the third Women’s Issue in Climbing’s history. The first, no. 103, was in 1987; the second, no. 347, was last year. In no. 347, Ellison, the former editor of Climbing, detailed an incident at Indian Creek in which two male climbers assumed she wasn’t up for leading a difficult pitch and so acted as if she weren’t there. It troubles me that sexist bullshit like this is far from a thing of the past at the cliffs and online, but this is still our reality, some 30 years after the first Women’s Issue. Little men have always been threatened by strong women. But we can counter this narrative with more positive ones, like those on these pages, and by being real and kind to each other. So, to the Adair Petersons, Kathy Kocons, Jessica Gladstones, our female contributors, and the countless women guiding, leading, and helping reshape the sport and the industry, I say, “Thank you.” Climbing would not be half as awesome without you.
ASHLEY CRACROFT, TRENCH WARFARE (5.12D), UTAH. SEE P. 80 FOR A NO-ROPE “NET ASCENT.”