2019 WCF CHATT SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

It’s always been important for us here at Flash Foxy for our festivals to be accessible, and this word captured a wide net. We want it to be financially accessible for womxn to attend, financially accessible for womxn to come teach, for WOC, queer, trans and femme-identifying nonbinary folks to feel safe, for disabled climbers to be able to physically access our space and more! As a small grassroots WOC-owned company less than four years old, we will be the first to admit that this is an ambitious goal and one that we are continuing to work on. We are humbly learning from our mistakes, with the support of our wonderful partners and our goal is for each festival to bring us closer and closer to that vision. 

Through 2019, we’ve been able to offer scholarships to our three festivals and share the recipients’ experiences. We’re so excited to share the words of the scholarship recipients for the Women’s Climbing Festival (WCF) in Chattanooga this past October. It has been truly rewarding to go through applications and finally meet these individuals in person. All 10 scholarship recipients received a complimentary ticket to the WCF along with a $250 travel stipend. Throughout the selection process, we sought to prioritize women and folks of underrepresented genders who are working to make climbing a more equitable, inclusive and diverse space. We also took financial need into consideration while strongly encouraging women of color, LGBTQ+ and indigenous womxn to apply. We’re thrilled to be able to offer scholarships for our 2020 festivals as well. The scholarship application for WCF Bishop is open now through November 30th. For more information click here

We would love to thank our wonderful volunteers made sure that each submission was read anonymously at least twice with the top 30 applications being read by at least 2 different readers.

Without further ado, please check out the wonderful folks we got to meet this year in Chattanooga! Click on their photos to read about their time at the festival!

CARIE KOSCIELNY + EMMA MINNICK
Carie and EmmaCHRISTINA MAGALONA
Christina Magalona

DANIELLE JOHNSON
Danielle Johnson
EMILE EICH
Emile EichKAITLIN GRABLE

LAURA NÚÑEZ
Laura Nuñez
ZURI + JUSTICE MURPHY
Zuri and Justice Murphy

CARRIE KOSCIELNY

Here’s the beta on the 2019 Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival in Chattanooga TN.  Our experience was absolutely amazing it was a weekend full of fun, mother-daughter bonding and making connections with other like minded individuals.

On day one we were immediately greeted enthusiastically and the stoke was high, we were ready to climb! We quickly hooked up with a group of girls and set out to do some bouldering. This is an area in climbing where my skills were extremely challenged, I was not confident at all to say the least but everyone I was with was constantly encouraging me and throwing tips and tricks my way non stop, I learned so much in one day!

Day two we set out with the Flash Foxy beginner group, we met all the women and young ladies in our group, organized rides then enjoyed the hour long car ride which gave us plenty of time to break the ice and get to know each other. I absolutely loved the amount of diversity in our group it gave my daughter a fresh perspective on socialization and how to confront and accept differences as individuality. Once we got out to the climbing spot we all had a chance to climb and work through and overcome the challenges we faced on the wall. Everyone had their own challenges but we all had to deal with the rain, everyone was very supportive. The resilience and strength that was displayed by everyone in the group was astonishing.

I am especially proud to have been chosen for the festival scholarship alongside my daughter because we now have an even better bond and greater love for climbing together. The whole weekend was full of awesome climbing fun and making friends, we met some really amazing women, it’s truly an experience we both will cherish for a lifetime! 

Thanks so much Flash Foxy 

Love Emma Minnick and Carie Koscielny

CHRISTINA MAGALONA

As I reflect on the 2019 Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee—what I saw, heard, smelled, felt, and tasted—I think about how the whiskey coffee on Saturday morning left an impression on me. A deep inhale of the aromatic whiskey reminded me of slow evenings, moments of pause, and unwinding at the end of a long day with my partner whose favorite drink is whiskey. But as my lips touched the warm drink, I tasted coffee: the caffeinated elixir that I took black each morning that energized me to action. Another climber at the festival asked me as I sipped slowly from my cup, “how is it?” “It baffles my senses — it smells like whiskey, but it tastes like coffee,” I responded taking another sip, “I like it!” The whiskey coffee was a taste of everything else that I learned, experienced, and what I sensed was an emerging theme at the festival: finding “duality.” The whiskey coffee itself was a metaphor for duality: in-betweenness, and both/and, and sometimes the uncategorical neither/nor.

The theme of duality was emergent throughout the entire event. The earliest and most explicit reference of duality was Shelma Jun’s presentation of her trip to Korea. The film and accompanying presentation were profound. As I watched and listened, I could identify with her experience as an Asian American-woman-climber; while also disidentifying with the specific challenges of her particular ethnic identity by recognizing and respecting the differences and uniqueness in her story from my own.

Duality continued to be emergent throughout the weekend. As I currently reside in Tampa, Florida; for all intents and purposes, Chattanooga remains one of the “closest” outdoor climbing areas to me. I felt simultaneously “at home” in Chattanooga and bouldering in Stone Fort, while also feeling the distance from my Tampa-home. I found duality as an apprehensive solo traveler that weekend, and learned to recognize my self-sufficiency and independence, but also found a collective of other climbers who had also traveled solo. We were not alone. I felt strong during the festival, as climbing usually makes me feel; but I also felt humbled and vulnerable — acknowledging my weaknesses and areas to grow on as both a climber, a person, and an ally to others. I felt a bit of risk and danger, because the act of climbing and taking up cultural space as a marginalized person is often dangerous. But I also felt safe knowing that we were all in it together in cultivating an environment of dialogue, of knowing what tools and gear are needed to both ascend routes/boulders, but also the tools to engage important topics. I found myself nourished by the stories and energy that surrounded me all weekend; and as the weekend closed, I found myself hungry to continue the conversations and to further cultivate the friendships that had begun.

DANIELLE JOHNSON

Dusk began to fall as I stumbled down steep stone steps, alone, on the trail to Foster Falls. I had no feel for the land and its features, much less for those who came before me there. All I knew in the moment was a sensation of plunging into the abyss, and that I would somehow try to find some stragglers still climbing after the wall had emptied out with the closing of the day. Despite questions of uncertainty floating in the back of my mind, fear was no match for the rush I felt to get to the crag at any cost: I had forgotten my headlamp in my haste, had no service on my phone, and was essentially meeting strangers from the Internet in the woods by myself! But soon enough, I found Erin and Jess chipping away at a route with headlamps, was immediately welcomed in warmly, and tied in for an exhilarating climb.

The following evening, the Women’s Climbing Festival would open with an acknowledgment of the Cherokee, Muskogee, Yuchi, and Shawnee people who made their lives in these mountains we converged upon for one October weekend. To start on this note was to hit home the urgency of not just holding space, but transforming our spaces to center those traditionally at the margins: in the climbing community, in the outdoor community in general, and in our culture as a whole.

I should say that the story of my arrival in Chattanooga the night before the festival is a far cry from how I have known myself to be when it comes to “getting after it.” I only began climbing in the past year, and a fear of heights has been just one thing preventing me from accessing this new passion. Growing up, I felt like this discomfort was an embedded part of my identity as a multiracial Filipinx American woman. But to add to that, I was raised to “just be safe” and live through prescribed boundaries — ones which limited me from being supported in the kinds of endeavors my younger brother was able to pick up. I can speak to an experience of growing up feeling like an outsider in a wealthy, exclusive, racially homogeneous community in Southern California: a place where those who did adventure looked nothing like me.

As a climber, and now as an outdoor instructor for Outward Bound, I’m working on these fears and setbacks: working my way up to instructing students of diverse means and cultures in the backcountry, fighting in between what Filipinx naturalist Francis Mendoza (or @rovingramenriceranger, on Instagram) describes as the two worlds of “expectations and under-representation” that I find myself apart of. Just as I recently discovered my fears and insecurities around climbing could be transformed into something powerful for my own growth as a human, I find immeasurable purpose in the call to actively take part in transforming the narrative of who climbing is for, and how we can better acknowledge and use the spaces where we climb. I am indebted to the opportunities and resources the badass womxn of Flash Foxy and Brown Girls Climb imparted to me over three magical days, and in return I continue to apply myself to this ongoing work, both professionally and personally.

Quote from “Feeling Like an Outsider in an Outside World”, Francis Mendoza, Bay Nature, https://baynature.org/2018/11/27/feeling-like-an-outsider-in-an-outside-world/

EMILE EICH

Reflecting back on my experience at the Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival I am happy to share that this event went above and beyond my expectations! The week before I traveled out to Chattanooga, Tennessee was filled with mixed feelings. On one hand, I was ecstatic to travel again and get away from the sweltering heat that Phoenix is known for, while on the other side I was incredibly nervous for the unknown. With my introverted nature, I sometimes find large events and social interactions draining and take time to open up to new people. By the time I could second guess myself, I was already on the airplane headed to Tennessee and little did I know what a whirlwind the next few days would be. 

A few goals that I set for myself was to meet other Indigenous women climbers, understand how I can positively impact and support the Indigenous climbing community, learn advanced climbing techniques, and most importantly, to positively represent myself and the Navajo community. My wish to meet another Indigenous climber was granted in the strangest way because they just so happened to be my roommate. Coincidence? I would like to think not, but by the time Saturday came around I had already started to see my small Indigenous group naturally form around me. Being among these inspiring and strong willed women, I felt safe to be myself and discuss what it means to be both a minority and a member of the rock climbing community.

I learned many things over the festival weekend, but the biggest lesson that I learned from my peers was to incorporate healthy boundaries in my life. As a Navajo woman and rock climber, I’m used to being the only Native American in the nearby rock climbing community. With various crags around northern Arizona being on a multitude of Indigenous peoples ancestral lands including the Navajo, my unique position has led me to educate my fellow non-native climbers about various topics related to Indigenous communities. As much as I love sharing about my culture’s rich history it can be quite exhausting sometimes, but I learned from my fellow peers that it’s okay to just take a step back every once in a while to enjoy climbing to the fullest and to uplift anyone and everyone at the gym/crag. Finding a balance between making time for myself so I can concentrate on becoming a better climber, and dedicating certain times to educate others how to be an ally to Indigenous rock climbers is my new goal. 

As Sunday came, I felt sad saying goodbye to my new friends and I never would have guessed that I would have created such close connections with individuals so far away. I am incredibly grateful and thankful to have met other women who share the same goals and values as I do. I wouldn’t have been able to have this empowering experience if it wasn’t for Flash Foxy and I’m looking forward to coming back to my local community and sharing what I’ve learned. Ahe’hee! (Thank you)

KAITLIN GRABLE

Flash Foxy’s Women’s Climbing Festival was an amazing space to be in, and I’m so fortunate and grateful to have been a part of it. Affinity spaces and community are so important to me in every aspect of my life. I am constantly seeking them out or seeking ways to create my own and hold space for the people who need it. Being in this space made me feel so recharged. Learning from women and nonbinary folks I admire and respect made me feel empowered — as a climber, an activist, and a leader —  in a way I’ve never experienced before. I went to Flash Foxy alone, which for an introvert like me is pretty daunting. But I found so many new friends from locations all across Turtle Island. And in these friends, I found people who truly make me feel seen and heard. I departed for home with a full heart and plans for a reunion with these people I grew to love from a weekend spent climbing and living together.

It was at Flash Foxy that I climbed outdoors for the first time. I was coming up on nearly one full year of climbing as my hobby when I attended WCF. Climbing has helped me grow so much as an individual in the past year. The frustration, the anger, the joy, the calluses, the cuts, the bruises, the progress, the plateaus, the crimps, the slopers, the friendships, the community, the successes, the fears, the failures — they have all molded me into a person that is so much stronger than I ever thought I could be. And having my first outdoor climb in this space — where I was surrounded by women cheering me on, encouraging me, and celebrating with me — was the best experience I could have asked for when entering a new chapter of my climbing.

It’s special and sacred to be with the land, and now I feel like I have a new way to commune with Tatei Yurianaka, Mother Earth. I really appreciated that we took the time at FFWCF to acknowledge that the lands we were on are those of the Tsalaguwetiyi people, and that we also took the time to give back to the land through stewardship projects. These acts of service reminded me how important it is to be in reciprocity with the lands we are on, whether as a resident or a visitor. We are taking experiences and memories, but what do we leave? I was happy to leave a bit of my love and sweat on the trail that I helped maintain during my stewardship project.

I can’t wait to return to FFWCF in the spring next year. Until then, I’ll be continuing this work and holding space wherever I go.

LAURA NÚÑEZ

I feel very fortunate to have attended the Women’s Climbing Festival in Chattanooga. Initially, I was nervous about attending for several reasons. I didn’t know anyone who was attending and I was worried about feeling out of place for being fat and new to climbing. Luckily, several women I met throughout the weekend made me feel welcomed and encouraged.  During the second day of the festival I felt especially encouraged by Irene Yee’s contributions to the Women in Climbing Panel. Irene spoke about defining climbing and what climbers look like for ourselves. She spoke about setting climbing goals that we felt comfortable with instead of feeling pressured to prove ourselves to the climbing community. Her message resonated with me because I climb to feel strong, keep my mind sharp, and learn to manage fear. I am not necessarily climbing to get closer to the difficulty ceiling or to embark on a cross country climbing road trip. I want to do something I enjoy without fear of judgment.  

After the panel I attended the Movement for Beginners clinic with Marina Inoue and got to climb at Denny Cove. It was raining and windy but everyone had a positive attitude and we made the best out of it. Prior to climbing during the clinic I hadn’t climbed in about 3 weeks due to my depression and it showed on the wall. I was fearful of falling, my hands were getting cut by the rock, and my body was not able to endure much. I tried over and over until my hands couldn’t take the sharp rock any longer. Although I was unable to climb very high up, I was glad I could belay my peers and learn by watching how everyone else approached the climb. 

My favorite part about attending the Women’s Climbing Festival was meeting other women and hearing their stories about how they got into climbing. I was fortunate to attend a clinic that had women of all ages which made for good conversations on our drive to Denny Cove. Some women started climbing because they had partners who climbed, others did it to support their children who were interested in climbing. Some women had been climbing for years while others had been climbing for months and it was amazing to hear how willing everyone was to meet up after the festival and climb together in order to teach each other and learn from one another. I connected with two women from Georgia and we plan on meeting up to climb at Sand Rock next year.  Attending the Women’s Climbing Festival was very empowering. I was so glad to be in a space where I could learn from women. Climbing is an intimidating sport, especially when it involves equipment set up like in Trad climbing. I feel very fortunate to have a network of women I can tap into if I choose to take my climbing to another level or if I ever decide I want to teach others and make climbing more accessible to women that look like me. 

ZURI MURPHY

Take wet rock, temps sliding toward winter, and stuttering rain. Add hiking, top roping, and a 12-year-old, and you’ve got yourself an adventure. The 4 annual Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee combined what my daughter and I were expecting- tables of vendors, miles of rope, and our weight in chalk dust- with the unpredictable nature of the outdoors. We had signed up for a movement workshop, and thankfully, ours was still able to go out despite the weather. We stocked up on oatmeal, granola bars, and hopped into a carpool. Driving south a little, somehow meandering into Georgia for a bit and then reentering Tennessee, we finally made it to a wide gravel lot. The trailhead seemed to be in motion. Towering, golden hued trees danced, led by gusty winds, beckoning us. 

As we picked our way across unpredictable terrain to our climbing site, Justice muttered: “It’s cold.” It was, and I hoped she would hang in there with me for the next several hours. We were top roping outside for the first time, and before we got to the wall, we paused under a beautiful outcropping, part cliff, part cave. We sat on chilly boulders while our teacher, Marina Inoue, encouraged us to ask questions and share what we hoped to get out of the experience. Several of the group explained how they wanted to go outdoors and be challenged. Others wanted to climb in space that was women-centered. I spoke of Justice and I’s desire to learn more techniques. Later, we were asked to name our strengths and weaknesses. In response, Justice searched for the words… “persistence, I think?” She explained that her willingness to keep trying was what shaped her climbing experience. I named my upper body strength and overall relaxed attitude toward the sport. Looking back, when I got on the wall, my upper body strength wasn’t what kept me hanging on. It was Justice’s voice from below yelling, “Yes, mom! Gooooo, mom! Keep going!”

About halfway up, a root emerged from the rock, right where I reached to steady myself. Grateful, I looked down, realizing that I was much further from the ground than I had ever been in a gym. Marina was shouting- “Mantle, mantle!” and finally, “NICE” after I stuck a move I didn’t know had a name.

Getting to the top was a surprise; so was discovering the ease and hilarious look of belay glasses. Before I even got on the wall, I craned my neck, watching the bravery of strangers. Each was fully trusting me to catch them if they fell. Rock climbing may be littered in male metaphors and masculine imagery, but our ascents are only possible when we are held.    

On the hike back, we were drenched and sore, but we joked about the conditions. “I can’t believe y’all hung in there!” Marina reflected. “I don’t like being hot or cold or hungry… pretty much all the things you experience when you’re rock climbing outdoors.” We laughed. She was expressing what many of us accepted was the irony of our involvement with the sport. Discomfort was inevitable. Yet, so was joy. As I was holding my daughter’s hand, walking through puddles and past waterfalls, a truth emerged. This tension is why we showed up in the first place. And this tension is why we keep coming back.

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