India: Lead Now Tour Location #6
"It's big move after big move," says professional rock climber Paige Claassen about Ganesh, the most difficult sport climb in India. Watch her become the first-ever female to complete the ascent!
-I've always wanted to visit India but climbing here as a woman is a bit intimidating. It's so different from anything I've ever known. -The cultures evolve everyday but it's hard to break tradition. Not many people expect a girl to climb Ganesh and not many people even expect an Indian to climb the hardest route in India, but I think you can do it. -We're in Badami, India and it is a world of its own here; you walk down the street and you see things you've never seen before, you smell things you've never smelled before. -Pigs running around, school kids, it's very normal for us because they are in many parts of India in the religious [unk]. -There are two things that I was really passionate and excited about when coming to India, and one of those things was working with Apne Aap and one of those things was climbing Ganesh. -We are climbing in Badami right now. Badami is located in Karnataka, the south part of India. In different places have different tradition about-- different thinking about women. They are supposed to like work in home and not come out from their home, if they want then they have to go with their husband, they can't go alone. -I'm definitely a bit intimidated as a woman traveling in India. As Americans we see things on the news about young girls being sold for sex and that's really hard to hear but it's hard to grasp what that really means. -One of the things we do recognize is that prostitution is absence of choice. To increase choices for women and girls our strategy is just simple; one is to get the girls into school and other women. While we are reducing their dependency on the brothel system at the same time to link them to livelihoods. They go inside brothels and we organize women to rescue each other by forming small self-empowerment groups that collectively then bargain with the government for their rights and entitlements. -It's always inspiring to meet really strong motivated women who are actually out there changing the world. And working with Apne Aap and meeting the founder, Ruchira, and walking down the street here and seeing how women act and how they live. I think those are the things that motivate me to climb more than anything, to really be part of this changing culture and to show women can do. The Indian climbing community is really small and we're here with two of the top climbers in India. They're super strong and they're confident in their own abilities but I'm not sure that their community is confident in their abilities. -They compare rock climbing with trekking, which is I think it's just useless comparing with trekking. Anything that I'm doing rock climbing, the thing I climb is like mountains. I do some trekkings, like someone climbing a rock. There are a few people who think climb [unk] can finish Ganesh but I don't think so. I never expected someone, a woman climber coming down and climbing Ganesh. When Paige sent me a message I was really excited and I was waiting for this trip. -Ganesh is such a powerful route, it's just big move after big move over and over. -The moves are pretty reachy, the border moves like long reachy, reachy moves. It's like a competition going on. And, yes, we set up high points every day. -And we're all just going as hard as we can to try and finish this route. I think it's gonna come down to the first big move that I still haven't figured out yet. -A girl like Paige climbing 8B+s, like hardest route in India. But I think the whole India is like, everyone is like you are going to like surprise when you say this problem. -There's kind of all these logistics that make it hard to climb at your limit but we're here to do this route so we have to do it. For me projecting something so powerful in the sun, in India was a very intimidating undertaking. For Tuhin and Sandeep, projecting the hardest route in their country was a big, big goal. Tuhin became the first India to climb Ganesh and that was definitely a really cool piece of Indian climbing history to be a part of. -It's always been my dream to climb Ganesh, probably it makes two years. When someone asked me what do I do, I said rock climbing, probably they don't understand what I mean by rock climbing. -Now that India is getting modern so people, the women are coming out and walking on the streets which is good. It's changing rapidly. It's rapidly changing everywhere, everywhere. -App Nea has reached out more than 15,000 women and girls across the country and the dreams of the women are now reaching out to more dreams for more women, more daughters. It doesn't matter whether you do something big or small because only time will do it but you have to do it as if it matters. We did it as we could completely cared and as if it mattered. And then we found that our courage was contagious. -I want to help App Nea bring change to the world and to India by providing women with the choice other than prostitution. You can donate online at crowdrise.com/leadnowtourindia. Together we can give these women a choice.