The women behind Allez Ale! want to make climbing comfortable for women—here’s exactly how they are doing it
Photos by Charles Pe
The science around climbing is sound and proves one thing: Women have the potential to be better climbers than men. Their smaller size and lighter weights compared with men in general make their bodies more ideal for the sport, even if their shorter height puts them at a slight disadvantage due to a shorter reach.
For those looking for an encouraging physical activity, climbing’s definitely welcoming for any woman who wants and needs to take up something new.
But even if you’re a woman who’s not really on the competitive side, perhaps you might still like to join a community of like-minded people who enjoy climbing. Maybe you want to start it by looking for a place that’s comfortable and non-judgmental.
Allez Ale!—taken from the French word of encouragement said commonly in the sport—is a nonprofit community that seeks to empower women climbers and make a group that welcomes them
Enter Allez Ale! Proudly describing itself as climbing for women, by women, the community was co-founded by experienced climbing veterans Ja Dueñas and Thea Sace. Allez Ale!—taken from the French word of encouragement said commonly in the sport—is a nonprofit community that seeks to empower women climbers and make a group that welcomes them.
The community not only brings together female climbing enthusiasts but it also pushes them to get even better in their chosen sport with challenges and events across the Philippines.
“As a previously male-dominated sport in the Philippines, climbing barely had any female representation outside of the national team,” says Ja Dueñas, co-founder of Allez Ale! “There was a time when women hesitated doing certain moves because they felt it was too physically intensive. We wanted to prove them wrong and encourage women by showing we can do it too.”
“Our mission is to empower women in the climbing community by organizing events and activities that promote a supportive and welcoming environment,” says the Allez Ale! team. “We believe that by bringing together female climbers, we can foster a community of strength, encouragement, and mutual support. We do our best to create a supportive environment where they feel comfortable to try their best and be cheered on by other women.”
Keeping with this mission, their successful main attraction is the Ale! Nights, a weekly all-female community class they hold on Thursday nights where women get together, learn new things, and hone their climbing skills further. These Ale! Nights have led to even more women participating in climbing sessions.
These sessions culminate in bouldering competitions, with one coming up in July as well as big female-only events such as a full women-only weekend in November.
“[In these events and sessions,] they have a chance to climb with mostly women, which rarely happens on regular climbing sessions [with men],” says Dueñas. “The support they get from other women has a more encouraging undertone rather than having that pressure to perform. We try to cultivate a growth mindset in that it’s okay to fail as long as you try hard.”
“We try to cultivate a growth mindset in that it’s okay to fail as long as you try hard,” says Ja Dueñas of Allez Ale!
Allez Ale! is looking to grow further, with their next big goal being an outdoor climbing event only for women. Still, their regular sessions are great for those looking to challenge themselves in a different way without the pressure (and gaze) of others. Who knows—you may discover that climbing is actually the sport for you.