Chris Noble / http://noblefoto.photoshelter.com
If you go
What: Book signing for “Women Who Dare .”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Neptune Mountaineering, 633 S. Broadway
More info: neptunemountaineering.com
When photojournalist Chris Noble was asked to make a calendar of women climbing in 2011, he realized there was more to what he was shooting than 12 photos for 12 months of the year.
“I did that and I thought, these woman are so much more talented than just being Miss July,” Noble said. “What else can we do?”
It turns out a lot more — Noble expanded the idea of women climbing into a 264-page book, “Women Who Dare.”
Noble — along with local climbers and subjects of the book Lynn Hill, Robyn Raboutou, Alex Puccio, Angie Payne and Madaleine Sorkin — will be at Neptune Mountaineering Thursday night for a reading and round-table discussion on the book and women in climbing.
The book describes itself as a “celebration of feminine beauty, athleticism, wisdom, and skill” that profiles 20 of America’s most inspiring women climbers with photographs and interviews.
Noble, who lives in Salt Lake City, traveled to the Sierras, Southern Utah, Colorado’s Black Canyon and Rifle, as well as local climbing hotspots Mount Evans and Eldorado Canyon to photograph and interview the climbers.
“I met them where they were already going,” Noble said.
He said some of his past work was part of the inspiration for the book.
“I have been an adventurer photographer-writer over the last 20 years, and looking back I noticed a lot of my favorite photographs had to do with women in nature,” he said.
For the book, Noble said he tried to select accomplished climbers who represented each form of modern climbing, as well as each age group. It was a big task.
“If we wanted to, we could have done a book three times this size. There’s so many great women climbers in North America.”
Alex Puccio is a Boulder resident who has won eight American Bouldering National Championships. “I don’t like segregating. You know: men’s climbing, women’s climbing.” However, when Noble called her about featuring her in the book, Puccio said she was excited about it.
“That could help more women get inspired to climb.”
“Women have to be motivated,” Puccio said. “Once there motivated, then they realize there is no difference between men and women, and we can go out there and have fun together.”
Noble said that though climbing has traditionally been thought of as a male-dominated sport, he thinks that has changed.
Puccio, now 24, said that when she started climbing at age 13, “I never thought about it being a male-dominated sport.” She was the only girl on the climbing team who wanted to focus on bouldering, she said, “So I always climbed with all the guys. I never thought, ‘well they’re boys so it’s OK if they do something before me.'”
Robyn Raboutou, a climber who has won four U.S. sport climbing championships and four World Cup titles and runs Boulder’s ABC Kids’ Climbing program and climbing gym, is included in the book and hosted a book signing at the ABC gym.
“The nature of the book is inspiring women to reach outside their comfort zones,” Raboutou said.
Boulder’s Angie Payne, the first women in the world to climb a V13 bouldering problem — and also in the book — was at the book signing at ABC. “I think that they see that and say, there are tons of women doing this. It will just break down any other barriers in their mind about it being a male-dominated sport.”
“There wasn’t anything like this when I was young,” Payne added. “…I saw Lynn Hill and a few others in the magazines but that was it … It was definitely a lot more male-dominated when I started. It didn’t intimidate me, because I was so young.”
Puccio said that in competitions about 10 years ago, there was a gap between men and women in terms of numbers at competitions. That gap has since closed. She said that there were more women competing at the world cup circuit over the last few years than men, “which is pretty cool,” she said.
“It’s really grown up. The gym system has helped make it more accessible. Kids are starting really young, and whether you’re a boy or a girl makes no difference.”
“One of the biggest trends right now is women being more fit and having big muscles is OK. It’s still feminine.” Puccio said. “I think that’s really helping girls not be worried like, ‘am I gonna have big muscles if I climb?’ That stereotype is fading down.”
Puccio was recently asked to do a movie focusing on her, but she wanted to bring other people in. “I wanna make a climbing movie about females, but not about females,” Puccio said. So she gathered some friends, men and women.
“I don’t want it to be marketed as a women’s climbing movie. You know, guys’ movies have normal titles… In a lot of climbing movies, it’s a bunch of guys and one girl… I want people to finish the movie and think wow, there were a lot of girls and guys climbing well in that movie.”
Contact Jake Kincaid at email@example.com.