Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival 2016- A Review and After Thoughts

PC- Shelma Jun
We are all talking about it. Some of us blogging, while others are posting and commenting on social media. Whether you find these topics controversial or not they are out there and creating a buzz. Women, climbing, women who climb, just women climbing, strong women, first ascents, first female ascents, sexy female climbers, sexualized female climbers… 

Regardless, it’s fucking magical when women get together and climb with one another. Any female experiencing it knows in their soul the blissful feeling of sending with other chicas.
I wonder (but also doubt) if men experience anything even remotely as amazing when they gather and pull on those outdoor pebbles. There is so much enriching beauty climbing with other women, and if it is gender specific then all of us females are hella lucky for being on the right side of it. Controversy completely aside, the sensation of supporting and sending with ladies is pretty damn badass! 
A Buttermilks yoga session with Stonewear ambassador and certified teacher Georgie Abel. PC Trish Ang.
Bishop is an iconic destination for climbing. I have been to the Buttermilks, Happy Boulders, and Sad Boulders before, as well as the Owen’s River Gorge for rock climbing. Just never with 150 other women all at once!
I drove through 7 hours of traffic and winding high desert roads to reach the inaugural Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival.  I was deeply rewarded for my efforts. Maria, my climbing gym and yogi friend accompanied me. First off, she had previously never been to Bishop for rock climbing, and has only bouldered outdoors a handful of times thus far. To see the experience through her eyes was magical, and to see so many women enjoying Bishop for the very first time was mesmerizing. It reminded me of the enchantment I once experienced so long ago visiting these boulders and topping out on many of them for my own first time. 
Topping out together!
She sends.
More than a decade later this sport, this lifestyle, continues to enrich my life in surprising ways. The women I met were kind, generous, supportive, cheerful, strong, and brave. Many of my local and long distance friends made it to the festival, and I loved being outdoors with them. I was honored to spot many ladies on their very first outdoor bouldering climbs. The pure joy and huge smiles smeared across their faces lit up my spirit. It is equally inspiring to see the sport’s strongest climbers speak about their years of experience and watch them send tall projects. 
Getting high off the deck. Go Mariapaz, go!


The Green Wall boulder, a success.
Previously I had met professional climber Nina Williams on quite a few occasions. The energy she brings to the gym and the crag is infectious. I participated in her clinic called Strategic Projecting, for those interested in unblocking the pathway to sending progressively harder grades. The group was made up of women from all climbing backgrounds and varying years of experience. Once we were at the face of a boulder all of our predispositions melted away as we stood below cheering on and spotting each other sending various problems and personal cruxes. We were all there simply to climb, and that’s it. Everyone’s individual goals for the day were taken on by the group, in a serious effort to help one another achieve success. There was no conflict, no competition, no complaining, and lots of camaraderie! We all did our best, and went back to camp with a magical feeling that can only arise from spending all day climbing with just women. 
PC- Crystal Shei
Warming up at the clinic. Nina has the theory of
climbing something tall to set a successful vibe.
Being spotted by my own girl crush, Nina Williams.
Solarium, Happy Boulders. PC- Crystal Shei
Strategic Projecting Clinic group shot. PC Trish Ang
Nina and me.
Women’s climbing panel, PC Jenna Johnson.
L to R: Shelma Jun, event creator
Julie Ellison, first female Climbing Magazine editor
Kelly Fields outdoor climbing guide and founder of Chicks with Nuts
Colette McInerney, climber photographer videographer
Katie Lambert, professional climber
Overall the experience was deeply gratifying. Many women spoke of feeling more open to try harder problems and felt secure in climbing higher than they ever had before. I myself felt surprisingly relaxed 25 plus feet off the deck, knowing the women below had my spot, and that my own ideas of success were all that mattered. Maybe that meant topping out, maybe that meant sticking a crux, or maybe it meant simply getting outside! Yes, it was exciting to see so many strong women climb, but it was even more inspiring to see all the women trying so hard, digging deep, and pulling down to lift us all up. 
A warm day in the Buttermilks.


Despite the snow, it was a toasty day.




Mariapaz on my spot!
During the three days of the festival participants had access to breakfast, dinner, climbing industry sponsors, vendors at booths, local climbing initiatives related to access and preservation, women’s climbing industry panel and open forum, No Mans Land videos (no boys allowed), professional athlete slideshows, local business Mountain Rambler Brewery and Great Basin Bakery, a massive raffle, free beer, yoga sessions, and the most epic positive vibe one can experience! Oh yeah, and climbing outside!!! All for the undervalued price of $65 for the whole weekend!!!  
Working the finish of the infamous Ironman Traverse.


Going big for the finish sloper.


Beta toe hook from a fellow climber resulted in a send!
The motivation is high now that I’m back home. I’m inspired to find other women, gather them up, climb hard in the gym, and then take that psyche outdoors! I would definitely return to the festival. The food was great, the hospitality of local businesses was welcoming, and the support from so many industry related companies was overwhelming.  The organizers did a highly professional job and the value of the experience was worth much more than I paid for! See you all next year! 




Stay Adventurous,

Valarie Tes

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