Credited with a handful of 5.14 climbs and a 15-year pro history with the sport, climbing star Beth Rodden visited the Sally Borden Climbing Gym to offer instruction and encouragement to young climbers from across the province on Monday (Oct. 10).
The women’s workshop was part of a three-day climbing conference held at The Banff Centre.
The Yosemite native who now travels the world attempting first ascents of near impossible routes offered words of encouragement for the young climbers.
“The reason we all start climbing is to have fun,” Rodden said.
For young climbers, Rodden emphasized the need to stay loose in competitions and keep nerves at bay.
“External pressure is very unhealthy, not just in climbing, but in all sports. We should make sure the girls have fun,” Rodden said.
As a young competitor, she recalls battling nerves and high expectations. She was one of only a handful of female climbers at the time, which created logistical issues. But today, thanks to the explosion of climbing gyms, more women are in the sport in both the professional and coaching ranks, she said.
For some of these girls, they can transition to outside climbing and first ascents. For a lot, coaching is also an option, Rodden said.
“Climbing is a lifelong sport. I wanted to show them options after competition.”
Five Bow Valley climbers took part in the workshop.
“The chance to get tips from her is super valuable,” said Emma Ettinger. “She’s encouraging and helps us deal with the mental side of climbing.”
“It’s awesome to gain a different perspective. Beth has been there on the competitive circuits and she offers different training ideas. The more we get exposed to different styles, we can pick pieces from them all to improve our climbing,” said Allison Vest.
The 16-year-old Canmore climber said Rodden also emphasized the importance of self-motivation.
“She taught us to push ourselves, but be thankful that we have teammates and coaches to support us. When she started climbing, she didn’t have a coach,” Vest said.
Kiva Waugh said the pre-competition tips will help her calm down before competition.
“She showed us how to calm our nerves and not focus on others,” Waugh said.
Banff coach Chris Neve said he wanted the climbers to hear inspiring words from Rodden, who is a tiny climber who achieved great success.
“This is the beginning of our long season, and anything to give them a boost will help,” Neve said.
Working with the young climbers, pushing them through gruelling pull-up and planking drills is something Rodden enjoys and is a nice reprieve.
As for future plans, Rodden wants to stick around her hometown.
“There are so many climbing areas, but Yosemite has enough to keep me busy,” she said. “But I’d love to come back here in the summer.”