Boys vs. Girls

Posted: April 11, 2012 by None Smith in Climbing, English, Training
Tags: , , ,

For generations and generations, almost everyone has taken part in the argument of what makes men and women different. Outside of the obvious visual differences, who is stronger, smarter, faster, more agile? Who can do math faster? Who has a greater breadth of knowledge? Who has better specific knowledge? And year after year studies come out highlighting differences. And year after year, other studies contradict them. It will be a forever on-going debate.

In school, we’re surrounded my our normal team sports – soccer, American football, field hockey, basketball etc. Unfortunately, the majority (in terms of greater society) are largely male dominated sports. If they aren’t, they are female dominated but you probably won’t see them on TV too often. It’s unfortunate. Let me add some depth before stating my point of view – my last year of college I was pretty involved with feminist points of view and some literature. I was longing to see and experience a hardcore sport or activity that was female dominated.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been rock climbing consistently for about a year now. Call it blind perception, but since I’ve started I’ve always believed that women were the stronger climbers. At least all the women I climbed and climb with far surpass my abilities. When a group of first time climbers come in and I belay them – the women always do better than the men. They are more determined, strategic and more importantly, they use their legs more!

Then came the dyno. The 5.12. A bunch of new routes were just set all over our gym and our one setter decided to try something funky. You’ll have to see the picture to better understand but basically you start two

Look for the black tape. The start is the greenish hold with two piece of black tape. The two footholds are right below that. The next hold is about 5 feet above it - yellow hold with black tape. Have fun!

hands on a nice jug, lock your arms straight down, bring your feet to the footholds and leap up to the next hold. That next hold – a large, flat hold – is around 10-11ft (around 3.3m) from the ground. It’s around a 5 foot leap. If you’re tall enough you can do it statically (without fully leaving the wall) but for most of us, it requires a second of being airborne.

I tried it once, failed. On the second try, nailed it. I brought my brother climbing for the first time last week in a very long time and showed him the dyno. Once, twice and on the third time, he got it. Another guy I was belaying who had never ever been climbing wanted to try, and it only took him two tries to nail it too. All these guys, whether “climbers” or not, seemed to just naturally understand how to dyno 11ft in the air.

Then some girls tried. One our employees, an avid and extremely strong boulderer tried for 3 days straight before she got it. I would be working and she would be sitting there, staring at the problem, trying it and sitting back down. Even one of my climbing partners, someone the whole gym recognizes as an extremely strong climber, took at least 15-20 tries before getting it. And she climbs circles around me! This one time we tried leading every 5.9 in the gym. When I was pumped and couldn’t climb anymore she climbed three more, and three harder 9s too! Absolutely astounding.

Yet when it came to this dyno, the girls seriously fell behind. I was speechless and couldn’t offer any tips. It just came “naturally” to me. The girls complained that the men have more “spring” and were more “powerful”. I didn’t want to believe it! But it was sadly obvious.

It came full circle last night when I was speaking with my assistant-manager at the gym. A little history: this woman has won first in almost every competition she has been in in the north east of the US and is preparing to compete in Regionals this coming weekend. If she wins, she goes to nationals. That’s sponsorship status. She is a GOOD climber. Her explanation was thus; women from the beginning are really good at being strategic and figuring out problems in rock climbing. Men on the other hand just power through it and come up short. As men get more serious about climbing, they tone down their power and hone in on technique and then become the stronger climbers. Her follow up to that was that in one of her competitions that she came in first, if she was ranked among men she would have been third. In another where she came in third, if ranked with men she would have come in 16th. Again, I didn’t want to believe it.

Either way, this is just a small example. From what I know and have experienced, women are far superior in climbing. I might be being a bit blind to the situation, but it’s such an inspiration to see a woman sending a really hard climb that I can barely get a few moves into.

I’ll pose the question to you guys – what have you found? How do you weigh in on the ancient argument of men and women? How about with the sports you participate in?

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