The first of it’s kind – the WICM was instigated and orgnised by Hilary Lawrenson, President of the Pinnacle Club – a women’s only climbing club. There was quite a bit of controversy about this meet on UK Climbing with both sexes saying it was sexist but the whole idea of the meet was to embrace and promote women climbers and put them in the spotlight.
The meet began with dinner and welcome at Caffi Caban in Llanberris with climbers coming from far and wide, with 60 British hosts/helpers and 22 guests from all over Europe, India and Japan. It was to be a celebration of climbing with women – God forbid – at the centre of this celebration.
Guests were teamed up with hosts each day, the first 2 days gave guests the opportunity to brush up on trad lead climbing techniques, including using double ropes. Unfortunately the trad clinic was initially confined to the Marquee due to torrential rain before progressing to Lion Rock and finally Bus Stop Quarry, where by the end of the day all guests were leading on trad gear.
The weather didn’t improve on day 2 – some opted sensibly to do the DMM Factory Tour but some including Ali and her Japanese guest Yu Shinozuka decided to do a multi pitch route on Carreg Wastad and only made it to pitch 2 before the heavens opened. Yu was reluctant to lead any of the pitches having never led trad in the pouring rain before so Ali continued leading pitches 2 and 3, now a waterfall, and was soaked to the skin by the time she topped out. Ynys Ettws – the CC hut wasn’t far away and Ali was soon in dry clothes – borrowing the Mountain Equipment freebies but having to go commando all day.
Some dry rock was found that day. The hard core climbers headed for Parisella’s cave on the Orme whilst others just climbed easier routes on wet rock. Everyone was up for climbing.
The rest of the week was a bit of a mixed bag weather wise but the best weather seemed to be on Anglesey and the best day for weather Wednesday with the sun blazing away and several bikini topped ascents of Mask of the Red Death, Centrefold, The Savage Sunbird and The Sun at Rhoscolyn.
There were talks/presentations each evening which included contributions from the guests – inspirational photos of climbing venues and stunning scenery, presentations from hard core climbers and newbies who shared their struggle, growing determination and confidence.
Shelagh Ferguson presented her insight from research ‘You climb really hard for a girl’ which received a mix of interesting responses. It seems that the younger and overseas women climbers rarely come across this type of sexism – sadly it seems confined to the British Isles and the older generation of male climbers/ instructors.
The week culminated in a last night party at Ynys Ettws with food, dancing and cementing new friendships. An awesome week made possible by the generous donation of the hosts time and energy. Let’s hope this becomes a yearly event.