Women from different parts of this country and the world coming together to hang with each other, both literally and figuratively. C.L.A.W - Climb Like A Woman hosted its first edition in December 2018 in Hampi, India. Where about 30 women came together to learn Bouldering and climbing over the span of 5 days along with alot of other activities.
“CLAW is an inception of something much bigger than a meetup for the women’s climbing community in India. Where not only can you participate and learn a new sport from other women climbers, but you get to be a part of an all exclusive women outdoor camp, something that remained a dream for many of us till now.”, Zhen Paintal.
’’I love being outdoors and I love travelling so I thought this would be a great way to spend the new years week. And the overall idea was to try something new which I have never done before and climb in a beautiful place like Hampi.", Chaitra Pai.
These perspectives is what makes us realise how important these activities and gathering are for woman.
Here’s a bit of what went down; the first day was a little detailed with the basics of a briefing, as participants gathered around the campsite, in a circle that slowly kept growing. Information and tips, on the campsite, bouldering, climbing styles and basics, safety, how to spot, food, etc was given out. The most fun was the ‘goodie bag game’ where the bags were placed at random and participants had to find the person who the bag belonged to and give it to them, thus breaking the ice instantly. Early evening was the first session, a demo on how to climb and basic climbing techniques. Things like how to use and move crashpads, how to use your elbows and toe tips were explained. Then smaller groups picked easy boulders to practise on with experienced climbers as guides.
Most of the girls were novice. They didn't have any idea about what climbing is, all they knew was that they will get a chance to meet a bunch of awesome women from different backgrough gathering at one place to climb like a woman.
"The fact that I am able to witness the genuine care and desire of the CLAW crew to encourage, inspire and build a women climbing community in India and watching them slowly achieve this one woman at a time probably is my favorite part.", Madhavi Nayak.
The underlying tone for all 5 days was climb, rest, slack, eat, movie screenings, yoga and all good vibes! The fitness around climbing was highlighted as well by each of the organisers that were on ground. Each of them at each station did different types of exercise; Gowri did workouts for muscles and wrist strengthening exercise. Prerna did theraband workouts, Lekha did core workouts and Mel did Yoga and stretching exercises for climbing.
"I loved it! The vibe, the energy is so refreshing and invigorating. I love how it plays it's part in this bigger revolution in the role of women in this world. It is so important to feel comfortable in a sport, and this all women's camp gives me the confidence to embrace my womanhood when climbing and in general. I don't want to apologise when I don't take a beta from a guy or when I take a little longer figuring out a problem. I don't want to say no to something just because the guys insist I won't be able to send it and it's too tough. I think the girl's camp was such a necessary and important step.", Ria Andrew.
"My agenda for attending this event was to address my vertigo and try to overcome it. I feed off and thrive on the positive energy of inspiring people and I knew I'd be surrounded by this. Over the past 2 years, post a depression period I have become very unfit, I wanted to get myself to fall in love with being active and outdoors again. Lastly, I couldn't think of a better way to end the old year on a new note, but with a new interest.", Tanya rasquila.
Climb Like A Woman ended on a high fun note, starting off with a climbing session and the regular routine of some power lunch. Pulling in a last swim at the reservoir because it was hot and people were going to leave that night. Everyone had a great time doing the last bits of activity or just hanging out with each other.
We got some feedback and reflections on the event, most of the people who had climbed before, were talking about how they did feel intimidated with men and women who were stronger than them would want to carry on with their own routines on harder routes. The beginners are just left not knowing what to do. This could be one of the reason why they enjoyed being with C.L.A.W because they all get opportunities to learn at their own pace. It did not matter which grade they are climbing or if they are topping out the route. They did not getting intimidated by anyone, not feel shy and neither did they have to compete or compare themselves. Everyone was there for everyone, they found the atmosphere positive and full of energy. They said that it was nice to see women doing things that they were not expected to do culturally in India, and one girl even said that it made her realise it's okay, not to look okay, we are all getting scratches and sunburns together.
Watch a teaser of the official C.L.A.W movie below;
"When I climb, I stick to ropes mostly but here in Hampi I have already climbed so many boulders which I have not climbed in 5 years of my climbing journey. I've been a climber for 7ish years, but this is my first all women’s event. It had a different vibe than other climbing festivals and I liked that it was a safe place to get back into bouldering.", Radhika Patel.
A special thanks to the organizers - Gowri Varanashi, Prerna Dangi, Lekha Rathinam, Vrinda Bhageria, Dr Mel Batson, Kopal Goyal & Zhen Paintal for pulling this through. Along with the support and sponsorship from Gipfel as gear sponsors. Inspire Crew as event & media partners. Organic Climbing, The Cliffs at LIC, Decathlon, The American Alpine Club as contributing sponsors and swag from Deccan Climbing, Adventure Worx, Allied Petzel, Go Desi, Adtire, Equilibrium Climbing Station & Climb Skin.
Stay tuned with @climblikeawoman on Instagram for more updates!