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We had a chance to speak to Mel from CLAW (one of the founding girls of the community) and we're so thrilled we did. We got to learn a little bit more about these amazing girls who are doing some fantastic things with rock climbing and encouraging an entire community of women to break barriers through the sport. We had to share this story with our readers : take in all the inspiration you can find and see you soon at the rocks! :)
Climb Like A Woman.Our mission is to support women to break barriers through rock climbing, with a vision of building a community of women empowered by the outdoors.
What inspired you to start a Climbing Community for Women in India? Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
CLAW started out as the brainchild of Gowri Varanashi, who had talked often to her fellow female climbers - specifically Prerna Dangi, Lekha Rathinam, and Vrinda Bhageria - about the lack of diversity in climbing - both worldwide, and specifically in India. In addition to being some of the strongest women climbers in India, these women were all actively influencing and expanding the climbing community in their own way - be it crushing difficult routes in Badami, leading weekend warriors around the crags of Bengaluru, opening up a bouldering gym in Delhi, or shattering glass ceilings (… err... “ice” ceilings) by boldly ascending the frozen waterfalls of northern India. These women thought something should be done about the lack of female presence in India’s climbing community, and decided to do something about it! And thus spawned the seed for the first CLAW event. Mel Batson, who had met Gowri climbing in both India and USA, joined the team for the first event rounding things out with her yoga, slackline, and general fitness inputs.
What are the different things CLAW organises? Basically how do you run the community?
Right now our main activities are one yearly event for beginners, which has been a five-day bouldering event where we teach the basics of climbing, along with other supporting activities like yoga, slackline, S&C, etc. and less formal, one-day meet-ups to bring together women climbers and strengthen the community in different cities throughout India. We hope to develop a sort of self-sufficient network of female climbers and mentors as the community continues to expand.
How has your experience been so far?
AMAZING! It is quite rare to be able to find a whole group of women in India who want to get outdoors and be sporty, and then to actually get them together leads to the best times. Mostly positive vibes and positive times surrounding all of our events so far.
What are some of your most fun memories with your community?
I think being in Hampi, at the first CLAW event, and realising that the whole plateau was just full of women climbers was one of the best feelings. And also the surprise that I and many other participants felt about being surrounded by so much "women energy", a unique and powerful feeling/situation that most of us "Tomboys" had never experienced before.
How easy / difficult is it to get women in India try a sport like Climbing?
We have only had a few events, but it has actually been fairly simple to get women from big cities interested in trying out climbing. We have not yet, however, been able to reach women in smaller villages where the social deterrents of being a woman in sport might actually be stronger than in cities.
How important is having the right gear for a sport like climbing?
Gear is one of the main limitations to trying out a sport like climbing. And there are only a few local companies which make and sell climbing gear in India. We rely a lot on donations from sponsors, of things like shoes and crash pads, to run our events. The money that we charge for events goes towards building up our own supply of gear, and eventually expanding our gear to be sufficient to run more advanced climbing workshops.
What’s next for CLAW?
More events, in more cities, with more women!
Any message you want to give young girls
Remember to think critically and rationally and make fully educated choices, do not take everything at face value and look hard for the truth, define your own limits, and then push them - You can do ANYTHING that you put your mind to, especially if your mind is open to all possibilities.
Can we hear some of the experiences of these women who climb?