Strong women: Climbing pregnant

“I’m used to endurance training, I used to do 28 routes on lead in one go,” she said, as I stared in disbelief. A heavily pregnant woman stood in front of me, having just climbed a 6b+ route (indoors) I had been quite proud of leading just a few weeks earlier, and given it the verdict of “really easy”.

This was something I encountered during a recent training session at The Castle Climbing Centre, a climbing wall in North London.

I was just admiring the fact she was climbing so strong despite being so far along, and then we started chatting. I mentioned I climb a lot at The Reach and she and her partner said they hadn’t been there. Then I mentioned the big overhang project wall there, and how sustained the climbing was on these routes. That’s how we got to the endurance conversation.

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No wonder she didn’t seem to have a problem lugging the baby weight up the wall, having previously done 28 routes in one go! Four easy routes, seven times each, on lead, she said. I’d heard of 4×4’s before, and that already sounded like hard work to me (same idea, but you do each route four times). But 28?! Just wow.

I’d seen this kind of determination before. My sister-in-law was climbing five days before her son was born. There’s video evidence on Facebook to prove it.

Climbing baby!
Climbing baby!

Another friend had spent most of her pregnancy at the bouldering wall, though in the later stages she stopped doing hard routes and did a lot of traversing. She had the baby, and was back to climbing within what seemed like a week to me! She seems to be climbing stronger than ever before now. 

I always thought pregnancy really sets you back in your training, but from what I’ve seen of these women, it is possible to continue with your passion, and the extra weight they carry around for those nine months make them so much stronger and more resilient when they go back to proper training once the baby is born.

That isn’t to say, of course, that they wouldn’t have made greater progress without the whole baby thing, of course they would have. But I still love seeing pregnant women at the climbing wall, just as in love with their sport as they were before. 

And I love it even more when parents bring their babies and toddlers to the climbing gym, not even to climb (yet), but just because this is where they hang out on the weekend. What could be a better environment for a toddler than a climbing gym? Lots of surface area to crawl around, chalk to get dirty in, and climbers to get some attention from! Bliss.

My brother and sister-in-law take my nephew to the climbing gym. Last year, when he wasn’t even a year old, they took him on a climbing trip to Frankenjura for two weeks. The only requirement is for other people to be there, so that someone can always watch the child. Because they crawl around really, really fast! 

I guess the main lesson is – it is hard work, but there is no need to let pregnancy and children put an end to your climbing.  Plenty of women seem to manage both, and I admire then very, very much. 

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