Empowered females will feel quick to defend that they can do all that men can. However, there have always been various things to make answering this question difficult. If you consider only grades, males do have harder grades than females on their records. However, males traditionally have more support for their interest in sports. It is also important to consider the top hardest grades are made up by a small percent and not a majority. When you look at grades a majority of climbers can climb such as V6, you start to see more female and male climbers. Could it be that climbing merely hadn’t found it’s strong handful of female climbers yet?
Things could certainly be changing. This month, we’ve seen some impressive steps from female climbers. It seems that a handful of strong female climbers is emerging, and it feels possible that the gap between the strongest male climber’s and strongest female climber’s grades could be closing.
Shauna Coxsey is one of these strong climbers. She recently won some nice medals in the World Cup; gaining a couple golds and a lot of silvers, but never leaving the podium. She showed a lot of strength in competition. However, possible even more impressive was her climbing a V14 outside, making her the third woman to climb this high point for females. She just missed out on being the second female, though, since Ashima climbed her first V14 in the same month.
Photo from Ashima’s facebook
What is even better, is that these females are both relatively young. Shauna being a young woman and Ashima still being a youth. At 21 and 13, there is a pretty substantial chance, these females will keep getting stronger. Everyone has the potential to hit a plateau, but as long as they keep working hard, training, and doing what they’ve been doing, they could keep getting better.
Let’s not forget the power that Alex Puccio has shown. She could be quickly behind with her first V13.
These strong and powerful females are pushing the limits for female bouldering. They are challenging themselves and other girls to take that form of climbing to the next level.
Keep in mind sport climbing also has it’s strong female climbers. Sasha Diguilian is still looking strong and accomplishing big things in sport climbing.
Other women are catching up with 5.14s as well.
This has been a huge summer for female climbers. They are pushing the limits, getting stronger, and becoming some of the world’s best climbers. It is helpful to have these top female climbers making large achievements because they serve as excellent role models to younger females looking to get involved in the sport. Maybe we will see more and more girls giving climbing a try now that they have such a group to look up to. These top female climbers are smart, hard working, positive, and show a great deal of care for their fans. They all make fantastic leaders.
To go back to the original question “are female climbers as strong as male climbers?” it is still too difficult to answer. Yes, females are catching up and making brilliant strides. However, the top male climbers are also working tremendously hard and making incredible strides as well. The bottom line is, however, that it doesn’t really matter. There are strong females and strong males showing that both genders have a right to be respected within the sport of climbing. There are people, in general, that are pushing limits and taking rock climbing to a place that once seemed impossible.
It is unbelievable how hard many of these top climbers, male and female alike, are climbing. It is great for us all to be able to witness such a transition and be inspired by all they accomplish. We are in a generation where we are or still hear stories from older climbers who didn’t have all the gear or technical aspects of climbing that exist today. We still know climbers who tried major ascents in sneakers or barefoot because they didn’t have the fully designed climbing shoes. We are still aware of that past and beginning of climbing, but we are also witnessing climbers who climb faces that look completely blank. New grades of climbing are emerging frequently. It seems limitless and that is very inspiring to see and be a part of.