March is International Women’s Month. That’s right, an entire month dedicated to celebrating all the strong, beautiful women you know. (Although if you ask us, it should be a year long celebration!)

To celebrate women everywhere the American Alpine Club sat down with six of their female climbers that crush, and crush HARD: Emily Harrington, Melissa Arnot, Sibylle Hechtel, Paige Claassen, Janet Bergman Wilkinson, and Jenn Flemming.

Here are some of our favorite quotes.

Question: What is the biggest misconception about women in climbing?

Claassen: I think the biggest misconception about women in climbing is that we are limited to certain styles of climbing. We even label ourselves that way when we make excuses such as “this is to reachy,” “I’m too small,” or “the route is too powerful.” But look at our examples–Lynn Hill, Emily Harrington, Sasha DiGulian–All women who work around perceived limitations to power. The only thing that can stop us is ourselves.

Question: Who inspires you?

Harrington: I am inspired by those who are not afraid to test their limits and fail. I also draw inspiration from people who have the ability to suffer with a smile and see the good in everyone and positive potential in every situation–no matter how grim it may seem at first.

Question: What is the biggest misconception about women in climbing?

Flemming: I think that the biggest misconception about women in climbing is that emotion is a weakness. Men and women climb, behave, and react along a spectrum of emotion; often the typically “female” reaction (e.g. tears or other overly emotional behavior) is perceived as a weakness. In actuality, we all cope with stress in a very individual manner, and there is no objective “best way” to do so. Sometimes when I’m scared, frustrated, extremely tired, etc… I cry. A lot of my bad ass female partners do too. After I cry for about 30-45 seconds, I compose myself and am prepared to address the situation at hand. By realizing that this reaction is not indicative of weakness, I’m able to channel it into a positive response.

Considering 51% of the world’s population is female it’s always surprising to me that such negative stereotypes persist into the 21st century. The key to changing the way that we, as women, are viewed is to first start with our own perceptions. Realize that you are strong and powerful, that being small is not a handicap, and that crying is totally okay. Then, and only then, can we begin to change the way the world sees us.

So get out there and be not afraid to CLIMB LIKE A GIRL!

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