On Saturday 8th October, over 400 women arrived at The Depot, Manchester for the 6th annual Women's Climbing Symposium - some from as far afield as Canada and the US.
Conceived by 2016 Boulder World Cup champion Shauna Coxsey and co-directed by Emma Flaherty, the aim of the event is to connect, develop and inspire women in climbing through a variety of talks and workshops. Having increased in scale considerably since its debut in 2011 - beginning with just 60 participants - this year's event demonstrated the growth in female participation in climbing and the increased interest in women's sport from the media, with multiple mainstream media outlets present throughout the day.
Headline speaker Lisa Rands kicked off the goal setting-themed day with a talk on her career as a world class boulderer, describing her journey through competitions and giving high praise to our gritstone for helping to develop her self-confidence and technique as a climber. Lisa commented:
'I'm really impressed by how many women showed up to this event. In my lifetime I never expected to see this many women in one venue learning from each other. It's what I'd always hoped for and to see it happening is really encouraging for the future growth of the sport.'
A jam-packed schedule of workshops ensued, with some of the world's top climbers and coaches covering more topics than ever before: Dynamic Climbing, Footwork, Power Endurance, Steep Climbing, Slopers and Volumes, Crack Climbing, Fingerboard Training, Strength & Conditioning, Mobility and Yoga for Climbers.
A varied focus-talk programme ran simultaneous to the workshops, with some women sharing their experiences of working in the mountains and finding a balance between climbing and life, and others delivering more practical talks focussing on trad tips, projecting, routesetting, injury prevention, nutrition and sports psychology.
Sports psychologist Mena Eppensteiner, who travelled from Austria to attend the event, commented:
'The idea behind the WCS is great and it was awesome to see so many motivated women (more than 400!) getting together, exchanging their knowledge and experience and inspiring each other. I think such events can have a big impact on the development of our sport and I was therefore really honoured to be a part of it.'
Lunchtime brought everyone out into the sunshine to enjoy some food from the curry van. Films were shown on the big screen over the lunch hour, and a few women decided to fit some training in between sessions.
The time arrived for the second headline speaker to take to the stage - Olympic long-distance runner Jo Pavey. Reflecting on her career from a junior up until her recent performance in the 10K at Rio, Jo gave a fascinating insight into combining life as a professional athlete and as a mother of two children.
Following the final session of talks and workshops, co-director Shauna Coxsey gave her headline talk on her incredible 2016 Boulder World Cup season, following her path from age three to the present day and explaining how goal setting and self-belief have been at the heart of her progression over the years.
A prize-giving from sponsors for various competitions held throughout the day rounded off the event, with just the highly-anticipated goodybags left to give out before everyone headed home.
Summing up the day, Shauna told UKC:
“I had so much fun organising the 2016 WCS. Working with Emma is so much fun and it’s been great to have more people on board with the organisation of the event this year. It was incredible to receive so much support for the event from sponsors, guests and volunteers! Our mission is to positively impact people's climbing with activities that connect, develop and inspire. It really felt like we achieved that on the day. I already can’t wait for the next event!”
- More information on the Women's Climbing Symposium website.