Women falling behind? Or just not pissing on climbs?

lynnhillPrana posted a blog today from local climber Jamie Emerson’s b3bouldering.com that asks whether women in climbing have fallen behind since Lynn Hill’s historic free climb of the Nose in 1994.

Is this a thorn in the side of our collective climbing conscience right now? In last week’s Field Notes, I pondered how much progress women have made from a different perspective, that of the recreational athlete.

I had to laugh when Emerson asked if men are “selfish, territorial,” and this leads to men developing new bouldering areas. I have a male friend who jokes about getting to long trad climbs first in the morning so he can piss on them to claim them. He doesn’t really pee at the base of the route, but I’ve seen him haul ass on approaches in a fairly agro state, so I’ve actually checked for wet spots on the ground before dropping my pack or flaking the rope.

Is that the progress we’re looking for — pissing on climbs?

I don’t know about you, but this whole conversation gets my panties in a bunch. From one end of it, we women have been riding Hill’s badass coattails for 16 years. But what would all of the female climbers — recreational climbers who have jobs and families and other interests — say about that? Half the climbers acquiring white lung off the chalk cloud in the gym I go to this winter are women. The last time I climbed ice, half the people at the crag were women. No one’s going to plaster that on the cover of the climbing rags, but maybe that kind of 50-50 ratio is equality worth noting.

Especially because no one’s pissing on anything.

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