Dorr hosts first Women’s Climbing Weekend

Mayanka Dhingra, Staff Writer

Female climbers from the school community convened at the John Dorr Nature Laboratory this past weekend for a trip devoted solely to women’s climbing.

This was the first ever women’s climbing event hosted at Dorr, Upper Division science teacher Camilla Nivison said.

Organized by John Dorr Nature Lab teachers Abbey Moore and Kimberly Nault, the event was designed to connect and challenge climbers in an all-female space.

“By making this an all-female event, we really wanted to incentivize people to come who maybe wouldn’t have otherwise done so,” Nault said. 

Students arrived at Dorr Friday evening and watched the Reel Rock documentaries, which feature female professional climbers.

One of the climbers featured in the documentaries is Margo Hayes, who was the first women to complete a 515 route, one of the hardest rock-climbing routes, Abigail Morse (10) said.

Watching the documentary was inspiring because it showed that despite climbing being a male dominated sport, women can achieve great things, Erin Zhao (10) said.

On Saturday, students learned and reviewed belay and climbing techniques and climbed  Dorr’s 50-foot tower, Nivison said.

Morse learned that climbing isn’t just about strength but about planning the next move and pushing through the climb, she said. “There is a great sense of accomplishment once you reach your goal by getting to the top of the rock-wall,” Morse said.

“We also taught the technical skills of belaying, which can be really powerful in the sense that you are literally holding each other up and helping the other person climb, which really speaks symbolically to the goal of the weekend,” Moore said. 

“Some women might feel more comfortable climbing in an environment where they are with other women, similar to how events for women in STEM have been created to help combat the gender imbalance,” Dubno said.

Irati Egorho Diez (11) felt that the activity was different because girls often feel the need to prove themselves in the presence of males, even when it may come at the expense of enjoying what they are doing, she said.

The event was unique from those previously held at Dorr because it provided women with a space to come together not only to go climbing but to discuss larger issues faced by females at school and beyond, Natalie Sweet (10) said.

“Sadly, in many settings, men have the tendency to dominate discussions, but with only female-identifying students present at this trip, these students now have the opportunity to express themselves where they might have felt restricted before,” Sweet said.

In addition, students from all high school grades participated, and as a result, attendees were able to learn about school life from the perspectives of females from different grades, Morse said.

“We hope that this year will be the first of many female leadership outdoor initiatives,” Nault said.