Last week the fantastic news broke that Emma Twyford had sent The Big Bang at Lower Pen Trwyn, North Wales. As such, she is the first British women to climb 9a and only the third ever person to successfully make it up this route.
Emma’s send reinvigorates the British climbing scene, which is occasionally downtrodden in favour or more exotic, warm destinations. The fact she is only the third ever person to climb the route signifies just what an outstanding achievement it is, and is a testament to her perseverance and determination.
Along with Hazel Findlay and Madeleine Cope, Emma has been pushing the boundaries for women in this sport for years, and has been justly rewarded with this accolade. Women have been proving for years that they can climb as hard as the guys and Emma’s send rather emphatically silences any doubters on this front.
Emma has set many times at Chimera, with her blocs always being popular, albeit with the caveat, “Phoar, those were hard!” Female route setting is something she is passionate about, having set up her own company to try and encourage more woman to try setting.
Climbing is an interesting sport for gender equality, given that both sexes climb the same routes. Men, women and kids can all project the same blocs in a gym, sharing beta, laughing at failures and cheering successes. Gender often gets mentioned, but in a friendly, jokey way. “Stop using boy beta,” is often heard, along with “Why are girls so flexible? My foot would never go that high!”
At Chimera, we find climbing incredibly inclusive. Girl, boy, grown up, big child - your differences and successes will be celebrated regardless.
As women like Emma continue to push the sport, we recognise we have a duty to make sure that our gym remains an inclusive space where both genders can continue to enjoy this tremendous sport. We can't wait to see which heights the sport is being pushed to next, and the great thing is that the next big achievement could come from anywhere and anyone. Which is exactly how climbing should be.
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