rock climbing Vail photo

Women’s Rock Climbing Clinics

Climbing in community; women’s rock climbing clinics in the Rocky Mountains.


  • Saturday, September 2, 2017: 8am - 3pm
  • Saturday, September 16, 2017 8am - 3pm


Approx. 7 hours


  • Per person. Cost includes technical climbing gear rental and instruction. Cost does not include lunch or guide gratuity.
  • $195


One of Five

Experience Level


Women’s climbing clinics with Apex Mountain School take advantage of the high-quality rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains, highly trained guides, and a supportive culture of women who seek to continually learn and grow from one another.

Are you a woman and have wanted to try climbing outdoors but just don’t know where to begin? Or maybe you’re wanting to take your climbing skills to the next level? Mackenzie McGrath at Apex Mountain School is instructing the only professionally-guided women’s climbing clinics in Vail Valley this fall 2017. These clinics are designed to increase women’s participation and leadership in the outdoors and to develop technical climbing skills.

These clinics are friendly to all women, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced climber or whether you don’t know where you stand but you aspire to climb some of the world’s biggest mountains or simply want to try something new. Women’s climbing clinics are also a unique and rare opportunity to connect and create networks of adventurous women with a love for the outdoors and who are inspired to climb.

“There aren’t strong programs and networks for women that want to climb and there definitely aren’t enough women in leadership roles in the outdoor industry,” Mackenzie says. Factoring in that women account for only eight percent of AMGA rock and alpine guides, Mackenzie’s long term vision is to smash the outdoor industry’s glass ceiling and to support women’s advancement in the climbing industry and guiding industry in particular. “I know that big changes require small steps and not every woman want to be a guide. That’s what makes Apex Mountain School special and a perfect place to start making small changes and offering opportunities for women with strong support from our male champions in the guiding industry,” Mackenzie says.

As the largest full service mountaineering school and guide service in Vail, Colorado, we also lead private outings and also facilitate leadership and team-building activities for groups of up to 200 people. Visit our group climbing and team building pages to learn more.

Ready to sign up? To register, click the Book It tab above. You may also call (970) 949-9111 or use our contact page to request more info.

Choose #1 recommended Apex for your Colorado rock climbing adventure. Satisfaction guaranteed.

What to bring:

  • Waterproof shell
  • Tennis shoes or trail shoes (no open-toed shoes) for approach
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • 32oz. water per person
  • Bag lunch
  • Snacks
  • No short shorts

You may also want to consider:

  • Synthetic clothing
  • Ice cold fluids
  • Lip balm
  • Camera

Apex Mountain School provides:

  • Climbing Shoes
  • Harnesses (42''/44'' max)
  • Helmets
  • Ropes, Belay Devices, Anchors
  • Professional guide and instruction

Photo credit to John Lloyd Photography.

          Mackenzie McGrath believes in the power of the indomitable spirit. She pursues adventure – wherever it may take her. She’s traveled, explored, and lived on every continent except Antarctica, and whether it is a meditation course in the Himalaya, engaging in peace work in Israel, or working as a diplomat in Central Asia, she pours herself into her passions. An avid outdoorswoman and climber, Mackenzie is approachable, friendly, and quick to crack a genuine smile.

          In a recent interview, we asked McGrath a few questions.

Apex: When I think of you, based on knowing you as an Apex guide and friend, words such as “empowerment,” “seek,” “indomitable,” “pursue,” “justice,” and “peace” come into my head. First, do you have a connection to these concepts, and if so, how do those words relate to your life and how you live it?

Mack: I’m definitely a seeker and believer in the indomitable spirit and try to live that way in everything I do. I have come closest to knowing myself in the outdoors. I love climbing more than anything because it is a meditative art that requires mental, spirital and physical practice. Climbing has brought me to my knees, humbled me and at the same time, showed me what I’m capable of. Anatoli Boukreev’s famous quote perfectly captures my sentiment of the mountain experience and why I love climbing so much. “Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” 

Apex: How did you begin climbing?

Mack: My step father was a climber and first introduced me to climbing when I was 11 years old on a family trip to Montana but I didn’t really pick up climbing as a full blown passion though until many years later in New Zealand in 2007. I met a glacier guide who worked on Franz Josef glacier and he took me under his wing and taught me the basics of climbing on rock and glacial ice. I fell in love with climbing, bought a van and spent a year climbing and working at a climbing gym in Wanaka, New Zealand. I had no idea how to climb or even what I was climbing but realize now that I was climbing in some world class locations on some of the best rock. It was truly an introduction to climbing!

Apex: Next, why women’s clinics in particular?

Mack: Women are pretty underrepresented, when compared to men, in the outdoor community, climbing and guiding in particular. Don’t get me wrong, there were incredible female climbers that have left a legacy behind, like Gwen Moffat and Beverly Johnson many contemporary women still leading the charge in climbing (rock, ice and mixed), including Lynn Hill, Margo Hayes, Madeline Sorkin, Heidi Wirtz, Hazel Findlay, Katie Bono and Sarah Hueniken and many, many non professional female climbers. They are an inspiration. According to the American Mountain Guiding Association however, women comprise of just 11 percent of AMGA ski-guiding personnel and eight percent of AMGA certified rock and alpine guides. These numbers are really low and the gender disparity becomes even more apparent when compared to 2014 Outdoor Foundation’s survey that states 46 percent of outdoor participants are women. The lack of women in leadership positions in the outdoors and in guiding  is a relevant topic many talk about and try to address. There are organizations, guiding companies and individuals working hard to break the outdoor industry’s glass ceiling by bringing more women into the circle. While the aim of women’s climbing clinics isn’t to create women guides, it is great way to make a small contribution to a long term goal- to bring women into leadership positions in the mountains and to offer a fun, safe and accessible environment for women to learn, participate and explore.

Participant Forms:

If you wish to complete your participant forms in advance, download and print out the pdf below. Complete both pages for each participant, and give to your guide at the beginning of your trip.


Click the button below to view our terms, conditions and cancellation policy.


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