Defying The Odds
In an industry where only ninety seconds of a two hour climbing films showcased a female athlete, where one in ten sales representatives for outdoor and ski hard goods are female, and where women were a small fraction of rock climbers 35 years ago – Bobbi Gale Bensman has the skill, tenacity and strength to compete in a sport and industry dominated by men.
After male friends introduced her to the sport of rock climbing in high school, she blossomed into a skilled climber immediately. She started competing in the late 80’s – spending over 15 years traveling to every national competition - World Cup events, X-Games, you name it. In the end she won more national competitions than any other women in the sport. She attributes her success to an intense drive to get to the top of each and every climb, as well as inspiration from the women in the sport that were incredible role models. After a hiatus in endurance mountain bike racing, she is back on the rock, climbing harder than ever and advocating for women with each summit.
An Inspiration To All Woman
“To this day rock climbing is an extremely sexist sport. Women are shown in climbing and adventure films as ditsy score keepers or drunk, when the reality is there is a generation of budding climbers that are STRONGER than men. Ashima Shiraishi is a 15 year old who is out-climbing men and setting startling records,” states Bensman.
Just Go For It!
Her advice for women entering the sport is to “Just go for it and celebrate your accomplishments. To know the sky is the limit and not let any negative male feedback enter your psyche.” Bensman supports women daily by using social media, as a platform to promote women’s triumphs, including her own, and continue to be a strong spokeswomen for the sport.
Her next adventure is bringing together female climbers to compete in the 11th annual 24 Hour of the Horseshoe Hell – an endurance rock climbing competition in Jasper, Arkansas where she holds the women’s record. This grueling event pushes climbers like Bensman to the limit, and she has raised thousands of dollars for non-profits like Hera and Jeff Lowe’s film Metanoia.
Although you love the Boulder area, where are the Top 4 places you’d rather be?
- Climbing in my favorite international spots…
- Southern France and Spain
- Grampians – Victoria, Australia
- Southeast Asia –Thailand
- Oahu Hawaii – The North Shore
What is your go-to outfit?
- During trade shows I love my down skirts and some Krimson Klover tights with boots, but I also spend lots of time in yoga-wear for climbing and of course, yoga.
Morning person or night person?
- I tend to wake up really early to get in a good climb when the temperatures are cool. I come home before anyone is awake, make breakfast for kids and start my day.
Best advice ever given to you?
- Hold fast to the center. Listen to yourself, follow your heart, and don’t let anything get in your way.