• Hayden Seder

Wild Woman: LADY CRVSH CREW Founder Sabrina Padua

Sabrina Padua. Photo by LCC Ambassador Sage Nigh

As its name implies, LADY CRVSH CREW is a group dedicated to empowering all womxn to be slaydies—ladies who slay, otherwise known as female climbers who crush while bring as much joy to climbing as they do progress for womxn in the sport. Originally founded as an Instagram page by five friends, LADY CRVSH CREW now hosts meetups in the Bay Area, greater Los Angeles, Inland Empire, and many climbing gyms; host crag clean-ups; and partners with climbing organizations and brands for events, raffles, and giveaways. Oh yeah, and they make sick merch! One of the original founders, Sabrina Padua, was first introduced to bouldering in 2013 and truly fell in love with the sport in 2017. The empowerment of all lady crushers is of the utmost importance for all involved with LCC. Read on to learn more about the founding of this amazing organization.

Photo by Elizabeth Kim @lizkimphotography

Why did you want to start Lady Crvsh Crew?

Sabrina: The main reason why I started LCC was to connect some of the girls I climbed with in a group setting. I started a group chat with introductions, hoping they would be stoked to someday climb all together instead of solo or 1-on-1 sessions. After some back and forth discussion, the idea of starting an Instagram page was tossed around to share our crew's climbing content. I went ahead and created our page originally titled "Grrrl Crew" back in May 2018. The name needed some work, so after a collective brainstorming session, LADY CRVSH CREW was born. Being someone who is fascinated by branding and marketing, I utilized a couple of Adobe programs to create the LCC circle logo, which is what we continue to use today across our website, socials, and merch.

What did the founding of Lady Crvsh Crew look like?

Sabrina: LCC consisted of 5 friends, including myself, who were the original members at the time. With 5 different women from varying walks of life, we all couldn't agree on what we wanted LADY CRVSH CREW to be. Some of us wanted to share content only of ourselves, while others wanted to create an inclusive space for all self-identifying womxn and allies. After a couple of months of posting content and seeing the positive feedback our Instagram was getting, LCC was organically becoming an inclusive community. We were filling the void for local climbers who were not just looking for sends, but for friendship as well. As some original members decided to leave LCC, the remaining friends continued to push our new mission of empowering womxn and allies through the sport of climbing. Since then, we've onboarded a fantastic team of Leaders and Ambassadors throughout California who are responsible for organizing gym events and leading groups on local climbing trips.

LCC meetup at Stony Point. Photo by LCC

Why do you think womxn need a space where they can climb with other womxn? 

Sabrina: Climbing can be an intimidating and vulnerable sport in my opinion, especially as a new climber who is just starting out. There's a lot of self-doubt that could arise: Do I look stupid? Am I doing this right? Did anyone see me fall? Am I strong enough for this? Creating a welcoming space for climbers of all experience levels can help deter some of those doubts as well as bring back the fun aspect of climbing if/when they are starting to get hard on themselves. More often than not, we get a lot of new climbers who join our meetups looking for guidance, especially if they are climbing outdoors for the first time. Something that I think is magical about our meetups is that they end up meeting other womxn who also have never been outdoors before, and they feel a sense of community and friendship. Other times, we get super experienced climbers who join our meetups hoping to meet new people, create connections, or help out our ambassadors with safety and spotting. With that much support and empowerment surrounding them, they can feel as if they can top any boulder -- and even if they don't send that day, they're possibly leaving with a new girl gang to hit up the climbing gym with.

Photo by Jovanna Reyes

Tell me about your women’s meetups: do you work on specific skills or just climb together and have fun?

Sabrina: Each meetup is different depending on the Leader or Ambassador who is organizing the event. For larger meetups that are sponsored by a brand or company, we'll either have giveaways, group challenges that encourage breaking the ice with new people, or clinics led by someone from our team. For smaller, casual groups, the climbers are there just to have fun. We have had meetups with a 40+ turnout, and also had some with less than 5. As long as the climbers had an awesome time, we are stoked either way!

Where do you grow up? What was your relationship to the outdoors like then? 

Sabrina: I grew up in San Jose, CA in the Bay Area, and did a short stint living in San Francisco before moving to Los Angeles (and now back to the Bay). Before climbing took over as my preferred hobby, my relationship to the outdoors was introduced when I learned how to snowboard a year or two after high school. Every season I would try to go on day or weekend trips with friends whenever the snow would be dumping in Lake Tahoe. If I had no one to ride with, I would buy a ticket on a snow bus and go up to the slopes for a solo trip. One of my favorite things about snowboarding by myself is bombing down the mountain blasting rock music through the headphones built into my helmet. I would feel like a pro snowboarder, although my skill level is far from that. Even just taking the lift to the top of a mountain and appreciating the sea of snow below you is incredible.

Photo by LCC Ambassador Sage Nigh

What’s your relationship to the outdoors like now? What activities do you like to do?

Sabrina: My relationship to the outdoors has amplified even more now, all thanks to LADY CRVSH CREW. I enjoy camping trips with friends, going to the beach and bumming it under the sun, and traveling to new places just to climb.

What kind of work do you do?

Sabrina: I graduated from The Art Institute of California - San Francisco in 2016 with a Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Marketing and Management. I currently work in the Merchandising department of a plus-size women's fashion brand located in Los Angeles, CA. In the past I worked for many Product Line Management teams for outdoor and active brands, creating men's and women's apparel for various categories such as: athleisure, outerwear, climbing, and training, to name a few.

Photo by Elizabeth Kim @lizkimphotography

Where do you live now?

Sabrina: I technically live in Los Angeles, but due to the pandemic, I have been staying in the Bay Area since March to be closer to my family, significant other, and close friends. I'll be moving back permanently next month.

What have been some of your most positive experiences climbing with other womxn?

Sabrina: One thing that sticks out to me, in particular, is attending my first Touchstone Womxn Up competition at Cliffs of Id in Culver City, CA. The energy and motivation among all the womxn there were empowering for me on many levels. It was so much fun hopping on a climb, and whether I sent or not, the girls were cheering me on like I never felt before. I think I placed 16th or 17th out of nearly 100 womxn in the intermediate adult pool, which is a pretty cool personal accomplishment. LADY CRVSH CREW meetups, past and future, will always hold a special place in my heart. I love meeting people from our online community in person, putting names and faces to Instagram handles. What is pretty rad is that a ton of womxn I met at our meetups are now a part of our ambassador team and have grown to become good friends of mine.

Photo by Nicholas Cutro

Have you ever had a negative experience as a climber specifically because you were female?

Sabrina: I think a good number of womxn climbers would agree with me that "mansplaining" or unsolicited beta could turn a great climbing session into a negative one. What works for someone else isn't going to work for everyone. I think the movement in climbing is beautiful, and we should embrace how each individual chooses to climb instead of saying "this is how you have to climb." Other negative experiences I have had didn't necessarily have to do with my gender or sexuality but with people who felt they were more entitled to be outdoors than the groups I've organized. I've felt harassed on more than one occasion in the climbing space for being a "gym rat" venturing outdoors. People have said to my face that we don't belong at the crag, that we should go back to the gym, crags aren't for photoshoots, and pretty much gatekeeping areas they don't want people to discover because "they were there first." It's really frustrating to be put in this box when climbing and the outdoors should be for everyone. Unfortunately, this is not the case and there are large groups of people who don't feel comfortable or safe outside, especially individuals from BIPOC communities. As a part of the growing and evolving climbing community, I want to continue using LCC as a platform to push for diversity and inclusivity in the outdoors to spark change in this space.

Where do you hope to take LCC in the future? 

Sabrina: LADY CRVSH CREW is still a volunteer-led community organized by our Leaders and Ambassadors who contribute their free time to give back. I hope someday that LCC will become an official organization with out-of-state expansion and more opportunities to connect with the community on a larger scale. I think our community is still building the foundation for a bigger future, and I am so grateful for all of the support we've been given over the last 2 years. Some things I will continue to manifest for LCC's future: climbing competitions, festivals, traveling meetups, and more merch!

Follow LADYCRVSHCREW on Instagram @ladycrushcrew.

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