Calgary

More women boost ranks in once male-dominated sport of climbing

As indoor climbers hit the new Calgary Climbing Centre location in west Calgary this summer, one of the owners says he's been seeing more women getting into the sport in recent years.

Calgary Climbing Centre co-owner says women now make up nearly half the membership

Women are reaching new heights in the sport of climbing. 1:13

As indoor climbers hit the new Calgary Climbing Centre location in west Calgary this summer one of the owners says he's been seeing more women getting into the sport in recent years.

Walson Tai says women now make up roughly half of the members at his climbing facilities. And their numbers in both recreation and sport climbing have been growing.

"We're finding a dramatic increase of participation in women now, whereas 23 years ago, when we first started, it was pretty much male-dominated and it's almost to the part where women are taking over in membership, so it's really nice to see," he said. 

Climber Melanie Hayden says she enjoys the combination of physical and mental challenge that the sport entails. (CBC)

Melanie Hayden says she caught the climbing bug a few months ago. And after being petrified during her first several climbs, she's now firmly in love with the sport.

"I like the challenge of the physical aspect, but there's a lot of mental challenge to get past as far as, just that fear," she said.

"It was also learning to be confident in the equipment — that I wouldn't fall, that I wouldn't let anybody else fall."

Tai says it's not clear what's driving the climbing trend for women both indoors and outdoors, but adds he's not surprised to see more girls getting into the sport, and more female climbing role models raising the bar around the world.

Melanie Hayden says she was petrified when she first started climbing, but now she's fallen in love with the sport. (CBC)
Calgary Climbing Centre co-owner Walson Tai says women account for about half of the membership. (CBC)

With files from Dave Gilson