MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Fall 2018

FALL 2018 ML BLUE 51 words :: Leslie Timms One of the first things that drew me to climbing rocks was that I could keep up with the men. It was empowering to discover a sport where one’s strength-to-weight ratio, or technique, flexibility and mental strength, could often beat physical strength. Outdoor rock climbing offers a neutral playing field for man and woman alike; there’s no women’s tee, no smaller courts or lower nets. It’s just you and the rock. My first real climbing hero was Lynn Hill after I discovered that she was the first person to successfully climb The Nose, a 975-metre wall on El Capitan in Yosemite, California. The famous route was once considered impossible to climb and in 1993 a tiny woman achieved this bold first free ascent (first person to climb without falling) after many of the strongest men from all over the world had tried and failed. The fact that women could compete with men on a global scale was so inspiring to me and Lynn Hill’s mental approach—not to mention her famous quote “It goes, boys”—shaped my personal approach to climbing. Having a powerful female role model in a once male-dominated sport gave me confidence to try things that were intimidating and to not get sucked into societal norms/stereotypes. Eventually I went on to climb first free ascents of my own, inspired to follow several of my male mentors’ paths. The creative process of climbing into the unknown is incredibly rewarding, but developing new climbs requires drilling and hammering, skills that did not come naturally to me. I’d never learned such things growing up, and unknowingly contributed to a gender gap that still exists in society (though my lack of ability with tools only fuelled my motivation to get better). I also had to face the reality of my size limitations while “JUST YOU AND THE ROCK” CLIMBING A CLIMBER REFLECTS ON THE PROGRESSION OF WOMEN IN THE SPORT Leslie Timms on Legends of the Fall 5.13b, Devil's Glen. MIKE WILLIAMS