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Guelph Grotto to celebrate women and climbing

On March 31 at 8 p.m., the Guelph Grotto will host a Women's Adventure Film Tour that will highlight inclusion and equality of women in sport
On March 31 at 8 p.m., the Guelph Grotto will host a Women's Adventure Film Tour.

The Guelph Grotto Climbing Gym has expanded, and with that, comes new opportunities.

On March 31 at 8 p.m., the Guelph Grotto will host a Women's Adventure Film Tour (Trailer) that will highlight inclusion and equality of women in sport and the outdoors.

“The Guelph Grotto went through an expansion, and reopened last June. We have grown over three times the size since the gym was first built in 1994,” said general manager, Julia Pilliar.

“Now that we have this big, beautiful and bright space, we really believe that this is one of the top climbing gyms in Canada. And now, we want to focus on a lot of different things.”

The Guelph Grotto aims to provide a safe community space where diverse individuals can gather for the all of the common benefits that climbing has to offer.

“Something that we really pride ourselves on, is that we are an extremely inclusive and welcoming community. Our aim is to welcome anyone and everyone to climb, and that’s one of our main areas of focus,” Pilliar said.

At the March 31 event, one of Canada’s top female climbers, Sabrina Appiah, will be the keynote speaker. She is the only female climber to climb a 5.13d in Ontario, a very difficult, strenuous climb that's both technical and vertical. Appiah will speak about perseverance, diversity in climbing, and climbing as a woman.

The Guelph Grotto is also excited to showcase a first production by film maker and local climber Jen Bendle.

Pilliar says Appiah and Bendle will also be joined by other female climbers who will share their personal journeys as women navigating a traditionally male-dominated sport.

“We are really hoping to change that narrative by showcasing that girls and women can lead the charge as well,” Pilliar said.

Pilliar says she hopes the event will be the first of many more where the Guelph Grotto can highlight leaders in the community who come in all different shapes and forms.

“It will be a great event. I think one of the conversations we have to have is about our own individual experiences with climbing, and with sports in general, in ensuring that we are being true to ourselves and not trying to live up to expectations of others.”

Pilliar says in climbing, you see the grades of climbs, and the difficulty of routes and that’s how traditionally, people have compared themselves and is often how the value of rock climbing has been identified.  

“We are trying to change that conversation so that it is less about the difficulty of what you are climbing, but more about your experience with it, because there are so many positives that come from it including body movement, focus, and challenging yourself in many different ways as well,” Pilliar said.

Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to the not-for-profit organization Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, and there will be door prizes, and concessions from Royal City Brewing Co.

“It’s for a good cause. This is an organization that is very near and dear to our owner and one that we try to donate to on a regular basis. They do phenomenal work, and unfortunately, it is something that is still so needed. We want to make sure everyone is aware that all proceeds will support this cause,” Pilliar said.

“We are hoping for a huge turn out. We want to create a safe place for women, girls, and non-binary individuals to climb, form community, and ultimately have fun.”

Since 1994, The Guelph Grotto Climbing Gym has provided climbing activities for all ages with top rope, bouldering, and lead climbing. One of Ontario's most established climbing facilities, the gym offers climbing options and packages to climbers of all ages, experience, and expertise, offering youth activities and adult programming.

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