Women of Cal Poly gathered around in the climbing park located outside the Cal Poly Recreation Center Feb. 8. The sun began to set as woman climbers of all skill levels reached for the top of the rock walls. It was an environment filled with confidence, support and determination.
Since the start of Winter 2018, Cal Poly’s climbing park has scheduled an extra hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays to encourage woman students to come out and climb. Though the name is not official, the event has been referred to as “Women at the Wall.”
This weekly event was proposed by earth and soil science junior and climbing park staff member Adriana Long.
“The idea started last year,” Long said. “There had already been some kind of women’s night before, but it didn’t really take off.”
It was not until Long spoke to the founder of a similar club, Women in Wilderness, that she felt determined to make Women at the Wall a consistent event.
“I talked to her and thought that, on my end, I could do something at the wall since I work there,” Long said.
Long and the three other woman staff members at the climbing park pitched this idea to Associated Students, Inc. Coordinator of Outdoor Recreation Matt Eaton.
“We’ve held this event in the past, but it’s really dependent on the student staff because they really do a lot of the work. Everything is free for Cal Poly students if they come through the rental center in front of the [Cal Poly Recreation] center,” Eaton said.
The plan was put into action after Long typed up a document offering more detail about the proposition. Feb. 8 marked the fourth Women at the Wall of the quarter.
According to Eaton, this event is meant to provide a more inclusive and diverse environment at the wall.
“We just want to create a good female presence there for women that are either experienced climbers who just want to come and climb in the company of other women, or for women who are just breaking into the sport,” Eaton said.
This event gives women students an opportunity to feel supported while getting the help and information they need to get on the wall.
According to climbing park staff member and biomedical engineering junior Grace Boyes, each event covers a different topic.
“We try to make it so that each time we come out here for women’s night, we’ll go over something a little bit different about climbing and everybody gets to learn something that way,” Boyes said.
Economics sophomore Madison Kliewer began her climbing journey last year as a way to bond with friends while taking a break from her studies.
“Women at the Wall is really fun because it’s all women,” Kliewer said. “It’s a lot less intimidating, so I can bring my girlfriends along.”
According to Kliewer, the women staff provide the attendees with useful tips on how to climb.
“Last week they gave us a little print-out with climbing terms to learn,” Kliewer said. “It’s very accessible and kind of introductory.”
Kliewer said Women at the Wall provides her with the opportunity to push herself and see her improvements.
“I was an athlete growing up, so I was always used to pushing myself to see results,” Kliewer said. “Since I stopped playing sports, it’s been really hard to find that, but in climbing you can push yourself.”
Through social media and word of mouth, Women at the Wall has been a huge success its first month, reaching as many as 30 female climbers at a time.
“The turnout has been really strong,” Eaton said. “We just want to increase and improve our outreach.”
Similarly, physics sophomore and fellow climbing park staff member Lisa Swartz hopes this event encourages female climbers to be confident in their practice, regardless of their abilities.
“The climbing environment can be kind of hard because you’re really putting yourself out there and you’re surrounded by a lot of macho people,” Swartz said. “It can sometimes be hard to see your worth, but we hope to build that here.”
Women at the Wall will continue every Thursday night through the rest of the quarter. The event’s continuation will then be determined by this quarter’s turnout and the Spring 2018 schedule.
“Now is the perfect time to keep it going,” Boyes said. “The purpose of Women at the Wall is to get strong and to encourage women climbers to help build a supportive community where you can come and not be as intimidated while being in a positive environment.”