UWL to host Women on the Wall rock climbing event

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Julia Van Fleet, Sports Reporter

On Saturday, Feb. 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., women climbers of all ages and skill level are invited to participate in the second annual Women on the Wall (W.O.W.) event at the Recreational Eagle Center (REC) at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

The event will take place at the Climbing Wall in the REC and is free for those with a REC membership. Those without a membership can buy a pass for the event.

According to Kayla Dudek, the president of Climbing Club at UWL, W.O.W. is a wonderful opportunity for those who are not as familiar with climbing to understand the skills needed to be successful.

“W.O.W is great to learn all the complexities of climbing in a safe space. Questions you would be nervous to ask any other time are great here because absolutely no one is going to judge you,” said Dudek.

Dudek, who has been climbing since she was 13-years-old, said she sees climbing as a fun way to stay active and challenge herself.

“I love the uniqueness in it along with such a variety. With the different types of climbs out there, people can always find their favorite type,” said Dudek. “I personally enjoy crimping because it makes me feel extra strong to be able to pull myself up on such small holds. It’s a great way to work out without it feeling like a serious workout because it’s much more fun.”

W.O.W also allows women to feel empowered without being significantly outnumbered by men, which is often the case at UWL’s climbing wall.

“When there are less people there, it becomes much more noticeable when you are one of the only ladies there. That creates a very intimidating atmosphere for climbing because it feels like all eyes are on you waiting to see how good you are,” said Dudek. “Women climbing together is so amazing to see and the atmosphere of the wall changes immensely.”

Emily Lesniak, who is also an avid climber and one of the organizers of the event, said, “In the rock-climbing community, which includes the climbing wall here at UWL, the sport is male-dominated. Women in this environment often feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, and unable to have a good time at the wall due to pressure put on them in this male-dominated environment.”

“We host W.O.W. to offer all women a time to feel empowered, supported, and unpressured to do things a certain way, so they can learn to appreciate the sport of rock climbing and all the joy it has to offer in a comfortable environment,” said Lesniak.

According to Lesniak, climbing in general is an activity that can be done by all, and W.O.W. provides a good place to start for female climbers who want to try something new.

“Climbing is for everyone. I believe the three main components are physical strength, mental strength, and technique, and all three support each other.,” said Lesniak. “You never know if you’ll like it if you don’t try, and I think it’s important to know that as a climber, you are completely in control of what you’re doing with your body. Once you try it, you can only improve, and everyone has to start somewhere.”

The overall goal of the event is to give women the confidence to return to the climbing wall and feel comfortable doing so. According to Dudek, the last year’s event was very effective in this way.

“Great friendships came from W.O.W last year and so many more women felt comfortable coming to the wall after that,” said Dudek. “It was amazing to see groups of women coming in and having fun together. I feel very strongly that WOW gives the women climbing community more confidence to come to the wall no matter who is there.”

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