Climbing Towards Progress in Cambodia

It’s another balmy day in Siem Reap, and my tuk-tuk driver races down the tree-lined roads from Angkor Wat leading back into town.  We turn down a dusty road, and pass by street food vendors, and lines of colorful clothes held up by old, wooden clothespins before slowing down in front of a modestly-sized outdoor climbing wall.  The big broad smiles, and ACN-emblazened neon green t-shirts the kids are wearing tell me that the volunteer staff of Angkor Climbers Net have just held another successful Angkor Climber’s Cup.

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Multi-colored panels of plywood adorned with quickdraws for leading and holds of varying shapes and sizes soar above the children.  Sem Rom, Cambodia’s first climber, playfully teases the young girls who are climbing for the first time, and explains how to tie a figure eight knot in their native Khmer language.  They squeal with delight as they ascend, and celebrate and cheer in unison as each one makes it to the top.  They ask to climb again, their faces more radiant and enthusiastic, and their laughs more contagious than before.

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London Ladies Social | 15th October, 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

VauxWall Climbing will be hosting an exclusive Bouldering Babes Climbing Girls Run The World Tour! event – where extraordinary women create an encouraging space to connect with one another, and have a kick-ass time keeping fit!

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This is an exclusive use closed event. You will have the entire centre to yourself along with like minded climbers.

Places are limited and to guarantee yours please book by clicking here

Price: £25 (incl. entry fee)

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Girl Crush: An Interview with Sarah Hay

Every so often, we’ll interview extraordinary girls doing extraordinary things: this is Girl Crush.  This week, we’re stoked to profile Auckland-based athlete Sarah Hay, who recently competed and crushed at the first two New Zealand National Climbing and Bouldering Competitions of the series.

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“Climbing has also taken me to places and countries I’d never otherwise have thought to visit and I’m lucky enough to have parents who live in Queenstown which is gorgeous and close to so much great rock.

-Sarah Hay | Climbing Athlete

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Babies and Boulders: A Personal Essay by Kristin Re

Kristin is a mother to a super rad 3-year-old, an alternative high school and local community college teacher, doctoral candidate, and entrepreneur.

An active member of the rock climbing community in the northeastern United States, she is extremely devoted to the empowerment of women through climbing, and teaches ladies technique clinics at climbing gyms in Rhode Island.

I began climbing in 2011, nurturing my newfound obsession as the spring and summer gave way to the crisp air that provided the best friction. That fall, I went on my first real climbing trip to the Red River Gorge, led my first 5.11, and began working my first V4. Then, my intuition told me something was wrong; I took a pregnancy test before going to the gym one night, and my fear became a reality.

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Destination Climbing: Laos

Hidden in a small valley which ends in the backside of the beautiful Xiengliab Cave lies a climbing area called “Pha Tam Kam”, 12 km outside of Thakhek, Laos.

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The climbing is wild and jungly, and there are over 280 routes, 12m to 40m long, with tufas, sintering and face climbing ranging from 4 to 8a+ . The ginormous roof climbs (starting at 6b+) are particularly fun and challenging to get on.

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Girl Crush: An Interview with Mary Lüthy

Every so often, we’ll interview extraordinary girls doing extraordinary things: this is Girl Crush.  This week, we’re thrilled to feature Cambodia-based climbing entrepreneur Mary Lüthy, whose passion project is Phnom Climb, Phnom Penh’s first rock climbing gym.

Mary is super stoked about rock climbing because it builds community, a safe and supportive environment, trust, self-esteem, confidence and perseverance amongst locals and expats climbers.

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“Most people don’t immediately think that a low income country like Cambodia would need something like a climbing gym. Yet, after living here for over 5 years, we are convinced that our beloved city, Phnom Penh, would be better off if there were more fun, constructive, and healthy activities available. We have watched the rapid growth of the economy and consumer possibilities, but no parallel growth of sports or extracurricular activities for young people. Phnom Penh is hungry for a rock climbing gym!”

-Mary Lüthy | Co-Founder, Phnom Climb

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A Rocky Relationship: A Personal Essay

Climbing and I have a complicated relationship.  Sometimes my connection with climbing is tenuous at best, and though it may always appear bright from our shiny Instagram-filtered worlds, only I am aware of its lackluster days.  It is for these reasons that climbing has been my greatest mirror, and best metaphor for personal relationships.

It is the longest relationship I have had (outside of familial ones), and like all meaningful relationships, we find ourselves feeling accomplished, worthy, truly loved, happy, free and (literally) on top of the world at times, but it is not without its challenges.  In fact, it is this constant struggle that I have with climbing to continue to grow my physical strength and technique and emotional capacity to deal with failure and unforeseen situations that makes it a truly special relationship.

We all know the aforementioned positive emotions well – how freeing it can feel to be on top – whether it’s the first overhanging v0 we sent after repeat visits to the 45 degree wall, or the first rays of light we reach at the the summit after days of climbing up steep alpine terrain with unforgiving mountain conditions.  These feelings fuel our very being, give us life and light and hope.  But we speak less of the lackluster days – we know those well, too.  The ones where, despite days/weeks/months of projecting project X, we still can’t seem to nail that crux move, or we had to back away from the summit bid due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. we simply ran out of time).  Or maybe it’s just that we had a bad climbing day – our heart wasn’t in it, we felt uninspired, and we simply didn’t want it badly enough.  Climbing can feel treacherous like that – one day we’re BFFs, and the next it’s like ‘hey, I thought we were friends, man – what’s up?’.  And we want to run.  Far away. From the flappers, shoulder tendinitis, badly chipped manicures, toe spurs, callouses, crooked bulging fingers, and lingering lower back pain.  But we can’t.  Because it hurts so good.

Am I advocating masochism here?  Surely not.  The pain to which I refer  is the pain of growth – of becoming.  And I think that all meaningful relationships to our personhood are like that – they’re rocky and beautiful, tense and intense and all-around awesome all at the same time, within the same hour of the same day.  They envelope us in their womb of loving kindness and shape us in ways we could not even imagine.  They stretch us to become the kind of person that we used to only read about in magazines and see in social feeds and never believed we could truly be.  Until we do.

And so yes, it’s been a rocky relationship, and I celebrate your rugged edges, Climbing.

Happy New Year.

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Love,

Jeanne