2013 Women's Climbing SymposiumReport

© Paul Phillips

Psyche levels were high at this year's Women's Climbing Symposium!

The team behind the 2013 WCS  © Paul Phillips
The team behind the 2013 WCS
© Paul Phillips

The event is the brain-child of Shauna Coxsey, the current British Bouldering Champion (and ranked 4th in the IFSC Bouldering Worldcup 2013), and Stephanie Meysner co-owner of The Climbing Hangar. Its goal is to raise awareness and enthusiasm among women climbers. Judging from the atmosphere throughout the day - they certainely suceeded!

The 2013 Women's Climbing Symposium  © Paul Phillips
The 2013 Women's Climbing Symposium
© Paul Phillips

Angela Soper at the 2013 WCS  © Paul Phillips
Angela Soper at the 2013 WCS
© Paul Phillips

The event kicked off with a presentation from ex-Pinnacle Club president Angela Soper - Still climbing at the ripe old age of 72. Like most people reading this, she had definitely caught the 'climbing bug', and her speech detailing some of the key historical points in female climbing was very interesting. Find more details of the (womens only) Pinnacle club here (the website is hosted by

There were a few workshops you could attend:

  • Dynamic climbing with Leah Crane and Shauna Coxsey
  • Awkward holds with Suzan Dudnik and Emma Twyford
  • Training with Katherine Schirmacher and Ellie Howard
  • Footwork/Technical climbing with Audrey Seguy and Lucinda Hughes
  • Yoga with Charlie Speller

As well as lectures:

Rebecca Dent (team GB's nutritionist) gave a talk on sports nutrition and diets aimed at maximising training and losing weight. Also touching on the recently popular 5-2 diet and few diets that have been tried by elite climbers like the broccoli stems and diet coke diet (not recommended!) and glyco loading. The benefits of the a low carb diet was particularly interesting.

After lunch there was a very heartfelt presentation from Mina Leslie-Wujastyk on 'self efficacy' which detailed the barriers she faced when competitng in this year's Bouldering World Cup. Having climbed harder than most people can ever dream of on real rock, why was competition climbing so hard? The speech was delivered very eloquently and you could tell it's been a battle for her. Hats off to you Mina! There was also an exclusive preview of the film 'Project Mina' from Jen Randall, showing the trials and tribulations of Mina's training and the competition scene.

Eva Lopez was on hand to dish out some more pysche with a talk and slideshow of some of her accomplishments. Quite often, women look for hard routes that other women have already done. Eva just goes for it regardless and her tick list speaks for itself. Total wad!!

Checkout the UKC news from last month detailing Eva ascent of Potemkin, 8c+

Eva Lopez at the 2013 WCS  © Paul Phillips
Eva Lopez at the 2013 WCS
© Paul Phillips

I was especially interested in the 'dynamic climbing class' as personally I felt it was an area particularly lacking in my female climbing friends. A common misconception is that dynoing is the domain of the strong: The opposite is closer to the truth. You don't need to be strong when you can pop past the bad hold to a good one. There were more than a few smiles on the faces of the attendees when they released that jumping was indeed fun and beneficial to their climbing.

Dynamic moves workshop  © Paul Phillips
Dynamic moves workshop
© Paul Phillips
Awkward holds workshop at WCS 2013  © Paul Phillips
Awkward holds workshop at WCS 2013
© Paul Phillips
Awkward holds workshop at WCS 2013  © Paul Phillips
Awkward holds workshop at WCS 2013
© Paul Phillips

"Personally, I enjoyed the WCS 2013 very much - it was well organised, an interesting selection of talks and coaching options. It was great to rub shoulders with the climbing elite - hoping that some awesomeness will rub off :) The yoga session on the morning with Charlie Speller was great - she covered several postures/moves for people with injured shoulders and backs. My core certainly felt it for days afterwards! The nutrition talk with Rebecca Dent was very informative - in the world obsessed with dieting it's good to have pointers on how to do it healthily. I found Mina's talk very touching, and inspiring; we all play mental games with ourselves when confronted with challenges, but being aware is a step towards victory via positive mental attitude. Both coaching sessions which I tool part in in the afternoon were superb - I confronted my personal  demons at the "Slopers" session with Suzan Dudnik and Emma Twyford. Leah Crane got us leaping what seemed like impossible distances, and provided dynamic climbing techniques which I was keen to practice the next climbing session. All in all, it was a great day, spent in the company of psyched people, from which I taken much useful information and skills. Looking forward to the next WCS!" Katya

"The day surpassed all of my expectations. The workshops were excellently delivered by top female climbers who seemed to be genuinely thrilled to be there also. The speakers and talks were inspiring and personal and it was clear how much effort had gone into it by Shauna and the rest of the team. I will certainly be booking my ticket for next year at the first possible opportunity!" Beth-Cath-T

See lots more pictures on the Arch Climbing Wall's website

Follow the WCS on Facebook

Women’s Climbing Symposium website

WCS is sponsored by: the Arch Climbing Wall, the BMC and Climbing Hangar

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