5 Tips for Riding Solo

Spring has sprung, which means road tripping season is officially upon us! I may not be the most adventurous person on the planet, but I’ve driven across the country with dog as my co-pilot quite a few times. I’ve made mistakes, and learned from some of them, so here are my top tips for other aspiring road warrior-women!

Me and my favourite co-pilot.
  1. Load up on audiobooks and/or podcasts. Music is great but there’s only so many times you can sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody. If you’re into books, most libraries now will let you rent out the audio versions. Or you can download some podcasts – I recommend This American Life and Radiolab if you’re into learning random cool stuff.
  2. Get a GPS. Even if the directions are easy, even if you usually use your phone, the GPS is worth it. It’ll help you find important things (like gas) along your active route, and you can watch the ETA creep closer and closer without being tempted to text and drive.
  3. Stop often, even just to stretch your legs. I happen to have a miniature bladder (or maybe I just like to stay well hydrated), and over the miles I’ve learned McDonald’s is the best. You don’t have to be a fan of their food, but their washrooms are clean, and you can refill nalgenes at the drink fountains (there’s even ice if you’re into that). Another great stopping point is a ‘Scenic View’. If you see a sign for one and haven’t braked in a while, they’re usually worth checking out. Get out and walk around, you’ll feel much more awake afterwards!

    A random ‘Scenic View’ in Utah.
  4. Snack smart. Bring healthy, crunchy foods (I find the crunch helps keep me awake). My favourites are carrots, almonds, apples and potato chips (okay, so chips aren’t really healthy, but whatever).
  5. Figure out how to sleep in your car if you want to be thrifty. Yeah, you could pitch a tent at a rest area, but I cannot not recommend it. I’ve woken up more than once to a creep staring into my window (my dog is a great car alarm – don’t forget to lock your doors). Walmart parking lots seem to be safer, but are less common and require you to leave the freeway.


One of Wyoming’s ‘Scenic Views’. Those are the Tetons, yo!


Drive safe, ladies!




Wisdoms of the Pebble Pull

I had the absolute joy of witnessing what could only be described as the World’s Most Adorable Climbing Competition – Pebble Pull – hosted by Climbers Rock.  I fully expected to see an abundance of cuteness, but was entirely taken aback by how much we as adults can learn from those little crushers!

the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.
 So here are some of my favorite lessons learned through watching and talking to the tiny humans during the competition:
Climb like no one is watching – OR like everyone who is, is routing for you.
I know it is easier said than done. As adults it is easy to bring our hangups and insecurities to the gym with us right along with our climbing shoes.  But does anyone ever watch another climber and will them to fall?  I like to think that all of us are silently cheering each other, or at the very least trying to learn beta, which is a complement on its own.  So you just go do you.

Continue reading “Wisdoms of the Pebble Pull”

How I Stay on the Wall


When I first started climbing a few years ago it actually came pretty easily. I had always been active and eager to try new activities, so I was excited for this new challenge. I loved it right away- I felt natural on the wall, and quickly moved through a few grades on top rope. Things were great, I was flagging and smearing and locking off and loving every minute of it. Within a few months I was flashing 5.10- pretty regularly, ready to take on any 5.10 with the same expectations. But it didn’t happen- it felt really hard all of a sudden! The holds felt super small, the beta was more technical, and I was pumped out. I was frustrated. Besides that, I was watching the other climbers and friends at the gym who seemed to flow through route after route, and it made me feel that I wasn’t doing well at all.

My stoke was gone! That glorious feeling that makes your hands sweat, even when you aren’t even at the gym! I didn’t want to be on the wall anymore.

I took a step back and thought about what was bugging me so much- compared to them maybe I wasn’t as good, but what does that mean anyway? Most athletic endeavours came easy to me and I expected to be able to move through each grade consistently, which if you think about it, meant that I should have been climbing about a 5.18+ after 5 years into it! So, once I shook that out of my head I realized I had some pretty unrealistic expectations!

I decided instead to consciously set goals. Realistic goals. I try to pick out a hard route that makes me think “Hey- I could do that!” and keep trying to get to the top as long as it’s up. Maybe there’s a route I think I can do but it ends up being a lot harder than it looks- and that’s ok, too. I realize that to reach some of these goals it may take longer than I want, but the more I practice and train and learn, the closer I get. Some are big, like lead climbing goals, and some are small, like pull up goals.

Before I was not managing my expectations well, and as a result I felt self-pressure and missed out on the confidence that allowed me to progress in my earlier days. Making a conscious effort to set realistic goals has made a huge difference in my trips to the gym. Talking to other climbers has also helped- realizing that this is a lifelong activity, not a race to the top. There’s so much to learn that I’ll always be able to improve- just one great thing in the long list of great things about this sport!

So, now my ego is in check, my confidence is back and I am feeling stronger than ever! And let’s just be frank- this is supposed to be for FUN!! Crazy thing is it has trickled into other things as well, and I try hard not to put that same pressure on work, family and life in general (that stuff is supposed to be fun, too!).


Me super stoked after finally flashing a 5.10+. This photo was from May 2014, and I’m still happily and humbly working on 5.11- climbs! Just try to keep me off the wall now….


Staying Psyched

Feeling bummed? Uninspired? It happens to the best of us. Here are the steps I work through when I’m feeling burnt out.

     1. Read a Guidebook

This is the first thing I usually try because it’s really easy to do. Looking through my old guidebooks reminds me of all the radness in the world that’s worth training for. My personal favourite is Lies and Propaganda from Ten Sleep Canyon, which is basically half climbing guide half zine. The guns, cats, strippers, sick photos, and unusual (understatement) diagrams give me a laugh. Flip through the guidebook to your favourite area and maybe you’ll find a photo or a route description that’ll help you off the couch!

Lies and Propaganda from Ten Sleep Canyon (and my sleepy partner in crime). Photo by Jill Sompel.

     2. Watch some Videos

Another really easy and quick thing to do. Watching the pros float through their projects, or scream and fall off them, is super inspiring. I’m pretty sure that’s why they make the movies in the first place. Are you trying to get inspired to freeze your butt off in the alpine? Try Meru. Are your goals closer to sea level? Maybe Progression or The Scene would be a better choice. Do you just need a good laugh? Boogie Til You Poop. There are a ton of quality climbing films out there, so sit down with some popcorn and get psyched.

   3. Go Outside

Are you becoming a gym rat? Fresh air and a little Vitamin D might be all you need to feel inspired again. Touch some real rock, and have a fun day with your pals outdoors. You don’t even have to project something hard, just climb some easy-for-you classics. Maybe even bring a pie to the crag. I promise you won’t regret it.

The world is a beautiful place – get out there! Here is Lila ticking the classic ‘Water into Wine’ in Ten Sleep Canyon, WY.

     4. Switch Styles

Been bouldering your butt off, bro? Maybe it’s time to get on a rope. Tired of taking whippers on your proj? Bust out the trad rack, or convince a trad-dad to take you on a multipitch adventure. Do something new, switch things up, climb some classics – no expectations, just get out there and have fun!

     5. Climb with a New Partner

Did all the above options fail? Maybe you need to seek out some new partners. No wait, don’t get upset! I’m not saying you should abandon your current partner, but sometimes some fresh blood and a different perspective can help you get motivated again. As with most sports, it’s advantageous to climb with people who are stronger than you. If you’re the strongest person in your particular group of friends and you’re feeling a bit sluggish, maybe you need to sit down at the gym next to that crusher lady and get to know her. It’s also no secret that some people are better motivators than others, so try climbing with someone who encourages you to get on something above your paygrade. Do a little hang-dogging, it’s all good!


Alright, are you motivated? Now put your shoes on, chalk up, and send that b!#ch!


Destination San Juan

Climbing like a bunch of girls: Puerto Rico.

I live in Ontario.  I love climbing.  I hate being cold.

Solution: find an affordable tropical climbing destination.


If you are looking for somewhere warm, sunny, and full of limestone, Puerto Rico may be a good option.  This was actually my second climbing trip to San Juan.  It was so great the first time that I could not resist going back for more!

The Climbing

Probably one of the best things about Puerto Rican climbing is the variety.  At any given crag there are well rated climbs from 5.8 into the 12’s.   That said; for this trip we stuck to  the Nuevo Bayamón and Caliche Crags – it is worth noting that wherever you choose to climb you will need to rent a car.  With lots of options for route styles and lengths, you can really choose your own adventure.  Whether you are into pumpy shoulder pulls on 30 foot overhangs, crimpy balance moves on a face, or an all out endurance fest on 110 foot single pitch, there is something that will capture your imagination and inspire you to send.

Alison and Karen warming up on side by side routes.

Continue reading “Destination San Juan”

Climb Like a Girl: an Origin Story

By Jane Haselgrove

Climb Like a Girl – Toronto Founder

The blog may be new, but the Climb Like a Girl movement began years ago in Toronto. This week Jane shares with us what motivated her to connect with her fellow lady crushers, and create a growing community!

I started climbing in 2012. Like most people I went to go check it out, got the 2 week membership since it was such a good deal and from there I was hooked. It wasn’t until a year later that I founded Climb Like a Girl – Toronto. Our Climb Like a Girl facebook group is simply a safe space for female (identifying as female) climbers to ask questions, share stories and find climbing partners.
In the beginning of my climbing journey I was extremely self conscious and uncomfortable. I started climbing with Tyler (my sweetie) and he just seemed to be good at it right away and got better at it really quickly. I remember a V0 that took me maybe a month to send. At the time I had no friends at the gym, only Tyler and he was moving on to V1’s and V2’s where I couldn’t even do this damn V0. I felt like a huge loser.
To back up this loser image I had it in my head that I wasn’t athletic. I hadn’t participated in sports when I was younger and I felt very out of place in a gym. In fact I made my early gym experiences very hard for myself because I told myself that everyone else was sporty and athletic and that we wouldn’t have anything in common so I was very shy.
On top of my loser image and sedentary lifestyle I had this very convincing story that I told myself so much that I believed it to be the truth and it was very real to me. I believed that I “didn’t like girls” and that I just “got along better with guys”. I distanced myself from many women and didn’t make friends with them intentionally because of preconceived notions that we would not get along.
So there I was. Shy, out of shape and avoiding other girls at the gym.
That first year was mentally tough for me. I would often only climb in empty areas of the gym and if someone came in to my area to climb I would leave. I would only climb when the gym was quiet. I remember a few times just leaving because I was too self-conscious to climb in front of so many people. I believed I was ‘wasting their time’ if I was taking up space on the wall when they could be climbing. I saw myself as weak and I was very intimidated by everyone who was better than I was. I had a really self deprecating internal dialogue going on.
That year I was taking an evening leadership course. In my course we had a project to take on which was to identify a community we were a part of and to create something within it. I remember our forum speaker saying, “Choose something that scares you, something that when you think about taking it on makes you feel sick to your stomach. That is where you need to go!”
During all of my struggles at the gym; climbing, falling, jumping off the wall being too scared, feeling weak, worrying if my leggings were see through. I just wished that I had a friend who was like me, who climbed like me, who was at a similar level to me. Someone to cheer me on and have fun with. I wished I knew how to make friends at the gym. I wished it was easier to find someone.
I knew it right then. The thing that I had wished existed was going to be my community project.
I knew I had to make that space for women to find each other and climb together.
Soon the Climb Like A Girl group was born into the facebook world.
In the first year of Climb Like a Girl the best and worst part was telling people about it and asking them to join. It was hard to tell people. I was embarrassed! Who the hell am I to start a group? I wasn’t an experienced climber and I barely knew anyone. I was new to the community and I was scared to be called out as a fraud. I was also scared that maybe people didn’t need a group like that. Maybe everyone was fine and it was just me who thought there was a need for this.
However, I kept telling people, and asking people to join, and writing it down on little pieces of paper for people. Slowly, slowly it grew. As my group online grew my group at the gym grew too. I was climbing regularly 3 times a week and my group of friends was climbing the same days. I was making friends with GIRLS and we were CLIMBING TOGETHER!! It was just magical for me to have that experience. Since then my whole perspective of myself and who I know myself to be has changed. I became very outgoing and friendly at the gym, I was introducing myself, cheering people on, making friends, climbing hard and having a great time!

Climb Like a Girl – Grip and Sip April 2013

Continue reading “Climb Like a Girl: an Origin Story”

Finding Myself in the Movement

A Climbing Story by Jennifer Fleming.

Each and every one of us is drawn to climbing from something deep inside of us. This week we have the privilege to share the inspiring story of how guest contributor Jennifer Fleming came to love the sport and find herself after some unexpected life changes. 

I started climbing right around the time my last relationship started to turn towards it’s end. I may have known that end was coming, I may have been in denial. I may have been trying to figure out how I could salvage my own sanity and self worth from the wreckage with which I was soon to be surrounded. After a conversation with a friend, he said, “Well, let’s go then! A friend of mine is a long time climber at this gym in Burlington. She can help us figure it out.” And on a lark, we were off.

My first day on the wall I’m pretty sure I galloped like a unicorn that just found a rainbow sprinkles tree. Not especially demonstrative of my affection with my male friends, on this particular day my friend was clobbered with unicorn hugs repeatedly. We took the belay lesson and lingered afterward, testing our new skills. Climbing became a regular escape for me and if I wasn’t outside hiking in the snow (it was February of a brutal winter season) then I was at the gym. I LOVED it. It felt so much like dancing, a full body release and a total spiritual teleportation away from all the bullshit, confusion, and sorrow that my life was spinning towards. Climbing gave me an opening through which to squeeze myself that nothing else could follow me through. It was just me, rope, hard grippy plastic and the next 25 ft route of sweat, huff, puff, pull, push, and balance until the sweetest surrender of finishing at the top. For the tail end of a crappy winter, I had found a happy place. Continue reading “Finding Myself in the Movement”

A Quick Review of Crag Etiquiette

Well Ladies,

Spring has officially arrived! Soon all those itching for real rock will be rewarded for their patience. Climbers will be arriving in droves to their favorite climbing spots each sunny weekend, and migrations south are happening as I type. With 2 new guidebooks coming out for Ontario we can only assume to see a few more people enjoying the local Crags than last year. Now sometimes things can feel a bit crowded, but if everyone (newbies ad vets alike) follow the same set of rules for outdoor climbing, then we can all focus on sending our next project, enjoying the sunshine, and appreciate each others excitement to be outdoors.  So without further delay here is a quick review of Crag etiquette.

All manners at the Crag begin with 2 questions:
-Am I being respectful?
-Am I being safe?
If your answer to both of these questions is “YES” you are probably acting like a model climbing citizen. If you answer no…


we may have to recruit some serious reinforcement to get you in line.  Unfortunately there are no climbing police so fierce cut-eye, and better yet friendly reminders will have to do.

Continue reading “A Quick Review of Crag Etiquiette”

Top 10: Reasons to Climb with other Women

I thought it fitting to kick off the Climb like A Girl Blog by encouraging women to climb with each other. I want to be clear; we love climbing with our male counterparts too. But there is nothing like the strength and stoke that a group of women brings to the sport. So here it is:

The Top 10 Reasons to Climb with other Women.
  1.  Girl Beta. Maybe it’s the extra flexibility, the height, a reliance on footwork, or maybe we are just extra crafty – but ladies come up with the most fun and creative solutions!
  2. The positive and supportive vibes. Ever notice how we all gravitate towards climbers that have their try hard on, just so we can quietly (or not so quietly) cheer them on. Everyone there wants to see you send your project, no matter the grade.
  3. You can wear whatever you like and no one cares. It doesn’t matter if you want to climb in a sports bra and short shorts (without anyone staring), or an old pair of pajama bottoms with more holes than a sieve… just maybe ask before you post a pic for the whole world to see.
  4. You can scream like a howler monkey, or channel your inner Maria Sharapova. If it helps you send, all the power to you.  We also accept silence.  It really is a come as you are atmosphere.
  5. Forgot your chalk, hair tie, sports bra, lunch, (pretty much anything you can think of) at home? No problem, If you forget something, it is likely someone has you covered. Just don’t forget your shoes, those are a little more size specific.
  6. Motivation, not competition. The excuses fade away when you see someone who climbs like you crush your problem. Beyond cracking the beta, sometimes we just need to see that it can be done.
  7. You can talk about whatever you want without embarrassment. Poop is a for some reason a surprisingly popular subject on trips.  But nothing is out of bounds. Nothing.
  8. You’ll encourage others. Especially those who are new or returning to the sport. We all have our own local girl crusher crushes. There is a good chance that you already are, or will be someone’s at some point.
  9. When people see a bunch of women climbing instead of a scattered few, it’s harder to forget or ignore that we may want different things than our male counterparts. As a group/community, our needs are more likely to be be addressed.
  10. It’s FUN!

Until next time ladies, Climb On!