Morgan Tadje: “Females Are Taking Over!"

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Nancy FeaginJonathan Vickers

Nancy Feagin

Age: 54
Years climbing: 41
Occupation: Accountant
Favorite local area: Maple Canyon

“Bigger people tend to have more absolute strength—like for moving bulky items around. But it seems like smaller people tend to be able to pull on smaller edges more easily. Also, men tend to develop more muscle mass, which makes them stronger in a weightlifting way. But for climbing, the strength-to-weight ratio is more important than pure strength.

“I talk to my fourteen-year-old son about it. He competes in martial arts and trains with national-level women. He also feels that strength is more related to size than sex.”

Mindy Shulak.Jonathan Vickers

Mindy Shulak

Age: 63
Years climbing: 44
Occupation: Business owner (garden-caretaking business)
Favorite local area: Maple Canyon

“One definition of strength is the ability to learn from repeated failure and persevere. Physically, I cannot do a pullup. I was ashamed and I never talked about it. Everything changed when I let go of that. Climbing friends have helped me with modified pullups on rings or a bar, and it’s making such a difference!

“I was probably ignorant of sexual discrimination in sports because I grew up in show jumping. Equestrian is the only sport where men and women have always competed on an equal basis: You think of yourself as being in a strong physical and mental partnership with your horse and the discipline you’ve entered.”

Morgan Tadje.Jonathan Vickers

Morgan Tadje

Age: 17
Years climbing: 7
Occupation: Student, climbing coach
Favorite local area: The Narrows

“I like training with other ladies. It motivates me to try harder. Right now there are mainly ladies on the elite team, which is really cool. It shows that females are taking over! [laughs]. We are as strong as the guys; we train as hard and are at the same level. When your friends all around you are saying, ‘Come on!’ and trying hard, it helps your mental strength because they make you excited to climb.

“I also like being able to do the most pushups at school. I’m kind of shy, but in PE when we do pushups I like to come out of nowhere and do, like, sixty pushups. And everyone’s, like, ‘What!’ Once a guy in class said, ‘She can just do that many because she’s short.’ And my PE teacher said, ‘No, she’s strong.’”

Originally from Pennsylvania, Jonathan Vickers resides in Salt Lake City. He holds a master’s degree in visual journalism from West Virginia University. See