You climb like a girl…

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Not to be sexist here. When someone says to a guy that he ______ (feel free to add in words like run, throw, jump etc) like a girl. The statement is normally derogatory. Men are stronger, faster and more aggressive and women are less so. Hence if a man’s sporting ability is being associated with that of a woman it’s not a compliment.

It is true that men sports tend to be more exciting and attract more following, partly because more men are into sports than women. But is this the case for climbing?

Climbing a gender neutral sport

If we look at the current status of the first ascent of the worlds’ hardest routes. Most of them were climbed by men (courtesy of Adam Ondra). But is the difficulty of competition routes more difficult for men than women? Is hard to tell, but I’m sure men competition routes can be physically harder with bigger moves due to the obvious difference in reach and strength. However, climbing is about problem-solving and I am sure neither gender can claim to have an advantage on that. Since competition routes are not graded or do men and women compete on the same routes, I guess we will never find out.

From an entertainment perspective, is men climbing competition more entertaining than women? It may be the case for some sports such as football, boxing, tennis etc when power and speed is an important part of the sport. However, I do not think women’s climbing is any less entertaining than men’s if not more.

Brain is more entertaining than Brawn

Watching Adam Ondra powering through moves with his “out of this world” strength or Tomoa Narasaki jumping from volume to volume like a ninja is fun. But can anything less be entertaining?

If you see Laura Rogora walking on the street the image of a top competition climber will not come to mind. Skinny and short (1.53m) not exactly a candidate to be a world-class climber. But you’ll be surprised. If you have seen her performance in lead competitions you’ll be in awe. She has amazing flexibility and she climbs like her legs are interchangeable for hands. She is also able to find unique sequences to climb through cruxes. How can a short skinny girl execute a move static when it is meant to be dynamic? Well, Laura Rogora does it all the time.

Unlike football, boxing or tennis which I’ll naturally gravitate towards watching men competitions and will even happily give women events a miss (ladies, I’ll look forward to your comments). But when it comes to climbing I find myself eagerly waiting in bated breath for the women’s competition to start.

Kickass little girl

Want to climb hard by training to get muscular arms and solid tight six-pack abs? Not necessary. 10 years old little girl 李美妮 from China climbed 5.14a (8b+).

Is ok to climb like a girl

Climbing a route by cutting loose your feet and using upper body strength to move past cruxes and hanging on one arm like a beefcake is good to look at. But that is more for show in a safe gym environment with a nice cushy crash mat. To be a good climber you should climb like a girl by being precise with your moves and climb efficiently using more legs than arms.

So to all the guys, if ever any of your testosterone jacked guy climbing buddies say you climb like a girl take that as a compliment.

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