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Women* Climb Nights aims to empower women one night at a time

Climbing+enthusiasts+participate+in+the+fifth+annual+Boulder+Bash+and+Lied+Recreation+Center+on+April+8.
Amanda Wymore/Iowa State Daily
Climbing enthusiasts participate in the fifth annual Boulder Bash and Lied Recreation Center on April 8.

Women* Climb Nights offer an outlet for anyone who identifies as a woman to connect with people while learning how to rock wall climb.

Climb Nights are monthly events hosted by Iowa State Recreation Services and offer a safe space for women with any or no experience in rock wall climbing to learn more about the sport.

Events are open to any woman*-identifying individuals, such as women* who are cisgender, trans, trans-experience and those who are gender-nonbinary.

Once a month, climbers can attend Climb Nights from 7 to 10 p.m.

According to Abigail Thompson, the vice president of the Mountaineering and Climbing Club (MCC) and a sophomore majoring in biology and environmental sciences, the majority of staff working are female to make women feel more comfortable.

“I had climbed a little bit, but I really wanted to get into climbing, which is why I looked up the clubs at Iowa State,” Thompson said. “I found MCC and then just contacted them and started going to meetings. I didn’t really have a lot of experience before that.”

Thompson said no climbing experience is required when attending Women* Climb Nights or joining the Mountaineering and Climbing Club.

“There’s a decent amount of people going in and out,” Thompson said. “When I’ve gone, there’s always been a good amount of people there. A lot of people come with one friend, and they try it together. It’s a place where you can try something new without being intimidated.”

Janie McAllister, a sophomore studying pre-landscape architecture, started climbing at the beginning of this year. McAllister is a member of the MCC, but said they climbed the wall for the first time at a Women* Climb Night event.

“To actually get me to go climbing was a big thing. I was scared to actually go and to just climb the wall, which is why the Women* Nights was really helpful,” McAllister said.

Thompson said when they first joined MCC, it was very male-dominated, which can be intimidating for women* who have never climbed before.

“I was one of four women that were semi-active in the club, but now the numbers are a lot higher,” Thompson said. “When COVID happened, it hit the club really hard, and [Iowa State] put a lot of regulations on high-risk sports. So we had to redo the entire club in a way, and since then our numbers have gotten a lot higher for both women and men.”

Thompson said most of the men in MCC want women to be involved.

“A lot of them want to share climbing with anybody. They’re not going to put as much attention on women getting involved as they give everybody equal attention,” Thompson said.

MCC also has several women in leadership positions, allowing the club to put more focus on women* joining their club and keeping them involved. McAllister said the experiences with MCC and Women* Climb Nights have been positive.

“The people I’ve met through MCC have been really nice,” McAllister said. “I went on a personal trip with a bunch of those people to go climbing, and that was really fun.”

McAllister and Thompson said they have had very positive experiences with MCC and Women* Climb Nights. McAllister said [climbing] can be scary and hard, but even difficult things can be fun.

Thompson said there are many talented professional women* climbers, and in many environments, women are climbing just as hard as men.

“Once you find your people, I feel like the disparity and gender across the sport isn’t as big as people would imagine it to be,” Thompson said.

Women* Climb Nights are held monthly for anyone who identifies as a woman. The fall semester events have passed; however, more events are to come with the spring semester.

More about Women* Climb Nights and upcoming events can be found here.

View Comments (9)
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Comments (9)

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  • L

    Lee Harker | Dec 6, 2023 at 7:52 am

    Ah yes diversity is best achieved by eliminating roughly 50% of the possible participants based on nothing to do with the activity. When will the diversity editor write an article about the principals of the new diversity math system.

    Reply
    • A

      Adam Wince | Dec 6, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Bro is angry historically marginalized groups are allowed a safe space from him, sorry a girl warmed up on your 5.9 project mate

      Reply
    • E

      Edgar Juarez | Dec 6, 2023 at 11:38 am

      Yes because a once a month event is totally eliminating men from a historically male dominated sport. Take your insecurity somewhere else.

      Reply
    • R

      Ryan Tullis | Dec 6, 2023 at 11:40 am

      Don’t you think it’s a little weird for a 65 year old man to be giving his opinions on how a program ran by and for 18-23 year old women should be run? Maybe do some personal reflection on why providing women with a safe and welcoming environment once a month bothers you so much.

      Reply
    • J

      Jacob Heeren | Dec 6, 2023 at 11:46 am

      Did you read the article, Lee? In a male dominated activity/space, events like these will only help increase and promote diversity.

      Reply
    • S

      Sean Houchins-McCallum | Dec 6, 2023 at 11:56 am

      Consider understanding the purpose behind events like women’s climb night before spewing baseless complaints. It’s about addressing historical imbalances, not exclusion. Take a moment to reflect on the intention behind such initiatives.

      Reply
    • M

      Myer Loeb | Dec 6, 2023 at 12:11 pm

      I came across your comment on women’s climb nights, and I must say, it isn’t very reassuring to see a representative of Iowa State University expressing such views. Your role as someone who received the Dean’s Staff Excellence Award in 2017 suggests a commitment to excellence, but your comments seem out of sync with the values of our university.

      Your remark about diversity math is puzzling. These events aim to address historical disparities and create a more inclusive environment, not subtract from participation. It’s concerning that someone in your position seems to miss this fundamental point.

      As a representative of our university, your words carry weight, and it’s crucial to be mindful of how they may be perceived. Let’s strive for a campus where everyone, regardless of gender, feels supported and included.

      Reply
    • C

      Cyrus Yoder | Dec 6, 2023 at 12:18 pm

      Bro is mad because his new diversity math system can’t calculate how maidenless he is

      Reply
    • T

      Truman Kruse | Dec 6, 2023 at 12:50 pm

      Your baseline assumptions here are just blatantly incorrect. Saying 50% of the possible participants are men is true in theory, but in practice the wall is 95% men the vast majority of the time. A ratio that can be very intimidating for female climbers. Further, we’re talking about one three hour period a month out of about fifty. Honestly I’m kind of shocked an Iowa state employee has the nerve to comment on a situation he seemingly knows so little about.

      Reply