Video: Louder Than 11, Words: Colette McInerney, Images: Jon Glassberg

I was one of those lucky ones. One of those people that got to climb outside ALL of the time. When I climbed, it was outdoors. When I needed to “train” I tried my project more times or did laps on easier routes to get fitness. Indoor climbing was for the poor and unfortunate who hadn’t managed to make all things in their life revolve around the one single pursuit of being able to get out.

Then this weird thing happened—my life started to revolve around other things and the shift didn’t feel poor or unfortunate at all. My film work began to ramp up, so I was spending more and more time in the travel hustle and less and less time on real rock at the cliff. Family and social obligations hit an all time high until my boyfriend finally sat me down and said, “Think about it. You’re the number one person to benefit from training simply because you’ve never done it. You have nowhere to go but up.”

Was he right? When I saw a group of Black Diamond athletes get together and do their own specialized training program in 2015 my eyebrows went up. With all the change in my life I was ready to see how training could affect my climbing long term. The crew at BD immediately recognized my interest, and they were stoked to make another Black Diamond Bootcamp a reality.

My motivation peaked when we decided to put together an all women’s training camp. I started climbing primarily with women, and though many of my main climbing partners and mentors have been men over the years, I’ve always found a unique connection while climbing and training with other women.

Practicing one-arm lockoffs

Daila, Colette and Babsi training at Mesa Rim Climbing Training Center

Mentally I had a different approach to climbing with women, as I was able to more easily relate to other women’s bodies and movement. I found myself making less excuses than when I saw a man doing a particular workout and was quick to disassociate, saying things like “my body doesn’t move or look like this body.” When I saw women climb I saw something I could honestly aspire to climb like and shape my body towards.

Where sheer power and dynamics may fail women in those intro stages of climbing, they make up for it with flexibility, technique and problem solving. The evolution of women’s climbing can look very different, but it often ends up in the same place as their male counterparts or even better, that’s what’s so rad about this sport.

Because of these differences I see a different kind of flexibility in women’s perspective in climbing, a constant kind of creativity. When the approved beta fails them they are resourceful, they don’t believe in one way to do something and are humble in their approach to uncover hidden beta, holds and possibilities. I wanted to see how this mentality and approach would apply to our training and bigger pursuits over all.

Daila, Colette, and Babsi look at a training manual

In the end, for me, the idea to train with only women would be a cool way to motivate myself in an unfamiliar arena. Three weeks straight with anyone can be tough, and not a challenge many groups can get through without some hiccups. With girlfriends you can be real, you can be raw, you are sisters and friends.

Sometimes I take for granted that I am surrounded by an incredible community of athletic, strong and motivated women. Not every woman might have that. I wanted to share content and stories that might reach one girl in one gym where she’s the only girl. Maybe she could relate and find some motivation that she too could train for her goals, push past insecurity and ideas of failure.

Daila, Barbara and I couldn’t be more different kinds of climbers. Daila is pure flow. Her motivation goes in waves like on the beach in Canary Islands where she’s from. Barbara has a complete air of calm and subtleness, but under her cool demeanor is the intention and focus of a hawk that’s completely unwavering. Me, I seemed to fall somewhere in the middle. But one thing was clear as I entered the three week BD Bootcamp with Daila and Babsi, I was climbing and training with two of the best female climbers in the world; I had a lots to learn and plenty to gain if I gave myself fully to the process.

– Colette McInerney

Colette, Babsi, and Daila flexing biceps!