Rock climbing challenges the Women’s Ministry


On Saturday, Feb. 18, FUS Women’s Ministry took nearly two dozen women to Pittsburgh for a morning of rock climbing.

The women met at Franciscan and traveled to the Climbing Wall, an indoor rock climbing and bouldering facility in Pittsburgh.

Women’s Ministry reserved the top-roping area at the facility for two hours. The Climbing Wall staff acted as belayers, who control the safety rope of the climber, while the women were strapped into harnesses hung from ropes. Women were allowed to free climb—without ropes or harnesses—while waiting for the top-roping guides.

Free climbing, also called bouldering, required the women to stay closer to the ground, but was helpful for the women to practice before trying one of the many dozens of “problems” in the top-roping area. Each problem, or climbing route, at the Climbing Wall is ranked by difficulty and marked by a different color. The climber attempts to climb up the wall using only those hand- and footholds that are marked with the color corresponding to one certain problem.

The women who attended the event each had at least four attempts to choose and complete a problem, assisted by a belayer. Some women chose problems that were completely vertical, while others challenged themselves by choosing problems that required climbing at all angles and over protruding ridges of all shapes.

Senior Madigan Maere decided to pick a more challenging route. At one point, she hung upside down and hooked her heel over a hold to hoist herself over a triangular ridge. The other climbers encouraged her from the ground, shouting words of encouragement.

In fact, the women cheered each other on throughout the event. Some assisted climbers from the ground, suggesting secure holds for the climbers. Part of Women’s Ministry’s mission is to foster relationships between women, and rock climbing proved to be a successful way to do just that.

Even Sister Anna Rose Ciarrone, TOR, head of women’s ministries at Franciscan, tried her hand at rock climbing. Outfitted in her community’s exercise habit of gauchos and a polo shirt, Sister scaled the rock walls alongside the women of Franciscan.

“We held the rock climbing to reach a different demographic,” said junior Jacque Anderson, a member of Women’s Ministry Core Team. “We’ve had paint nights for more artistic women, and other events for women interested in other things, but we wanted to reach women who were interested in athletics that may not have been interested in our other events.”

Franciscan’s Men’s Ministry has held several events at the Climbing Wall in the past year. Although the Women’s Ministry event was not connected with Men’s Ministry, it may have been inspired by the men.

“A lot of women approached us and said they would love to do rock climbing,” said Anderson. “It’s not only a men’s event.”

Women’s Ministry hopes to hold similar events in the future, according to Sister Anna Rose.  Anyone interested in Women’s Ministry events and book studies may visit for more information.