The Female Climber’s Guide to Having It All

From Sheryl Sandberg to Bey (as in Beyoncé), there is a certain sense of gravitas (and, quite frankly, privilege) that lends itself to the image of the woman who ‘has it all’.

For some, it is the quintessential model of balancing a happy home, healthy relationships, and a hearty career; for me, it has been about crafting what I call a ‘corporate bohemian’ lifestyle (or, quite simply, ‘work life balance’) to create financial stability while having the freedom to pursue all of my passions – most of which involve travel, climbing, or the optimal pairing of both.


Admittedly, I’d been one of those nay-saying ladies in my earlier years, and just as I did not believe that women could have it all from a personal and professional standpoint (for reasons I won’t delve in here), so I did not believe that I could ‘have it all’ as a female climber.

At the outset of my climbing, I’d (wrongly) believed that there were only two types of female climbers: those who were strong, and those who were graceful.  In my naive mind, I’d considered power and grace to be mutually exclusive.  And though I may have known in the back of my mind that I was utterly wrong to posit this (having been exposed to female climbing pioneer Lynn Hill – a gymnast early in life who nearly broke a world record lifting weights –  early on in my climbing days), I would have never admitted to it back then.  Why?  Because doing so would be tantamount to admitting my own fears and failures around not being able to have it all.

Over the years, I’ve learned to come around.  I absolutely believe we can have it all when it comes to climbing technique by pairing sheer strength and dynamic power (the kind we often associate with bouldering) with beautiful flow and flawless footwork (as graceful as a ballerina’s).


Jenn Wong takes on Rat Rock in Central Park with equal parts power and grace

And unlike a Huffington Post editorial, I’m not here to close the gap on whether women can ‘have it all’.  That’s up to you ladies to decide.


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