You Know There’s a Foot There

This was not the blog post I was going to share. I had a nice blog post- reminiscent on the last four years and looking forward to the next. It was lovely, really. But then, as I sat in front of a v4 boulder problem at the gym last night, resting before giving it another burn and lamenting my choice to not cut my nails before I started climbing, a man in chacos came up and told me that I had a large foot I could use to try and get to the next hold instead of being dynamic. The foot suggested would have pushed my hips further from the wall and away from the goal hold. I didn’t know him, his friend asked me what I was working on and I told him, and not once had I seen the man in chacos climb. While this does not mean that the chaco adorned gentleman couldn’t be a strong climber, he could send v10, but not once had I seen him put on climbing shoes while in the vicinity of me and my lovely little v4.

On one of my first trips to Boat Rock, a slab and granite heaven if that’s your bouldering jam just outside of Atlanta, my ex tried to give me short person beta. I’m 5’6″, he’s 6’2″. He couldn’t. Whether that’s because there’s a substantial height difference (not to mention my short arms) or because the problem could only be done one way, I’m not all together sure. I’ve had women who climb way harder than me, are shorter than me, give me beta I’ve ignored entirely- either because I was panicking and needing to get to the top, or I’m just taller.

My hand jam beta for Art of the Vogi v4, Stone Fort, TN. Photo by Laura Scurfield.

The strangest thing to me is that this is a reoccurring thing during my time in Utah. Men routinely come up to me and give me their opinions on how I should climb a particular boulder- often without climbing shoes on. If they aren’t giving me advice, their sending it in front of me or doing the suggested move in their approach shoes. During the years I’ve spent bouldering in the South East, the closest thing I’ve gotten to unsolicited beta was my friend Brandon yelling at me to either “dyno to the top” or “stop letting go of the holds”. More often than not the people spraying beta at me are women I work with as a coach and climb with multiple times a week, they know my strengths and weaknesses.

Brandon being #tallnotstrong

My argument is not that other people’s beta isn’t warranted, or even appreciated some times. I’ve definitely received excellent advice from many of the men and women I’ve climbed with over the last few years and wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the moves I can currently without them. But stop assuming that the woman falling off the v4 doesn’t know what she’s doing, especially if you’re just standing around in your chacos. I don’t, probably, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to figure it out on my own. Ask first. Everyone climbs differently, sometimes we climb the same, but the beauty of this sport is that no one has to do the moves the exact same as any one else.

Topping out Sourwood Arete v3, Boat Rock, GA using the slab way I had been avoiding for three years. Beta and photo by Laura Scurfield.

(But seriously if there are any ladies in the bouldering room, come talk to me, I just want lady pals!)

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