Last April, Nina Williams claimed the first female ascent of Ambrosia—a huge, 50-foot V11 highball on the Grandpa Peabody Boulder in the Buttermilks near Bishop, California. The Boulder, Colorado–based climber is spending this winter training for more first ascents in 2018, culminating—she hopes—in a free-climb on Yosemite’s El Capitan. “I’m hoping to build a reservoir of power that will carry me through the rest of the year as I shift my focus from bouldering to traditional climbing,” Williams says.
For a professional climber taking on ambitious projects, having the right kit can mean everything. Here are Williams’s favorite pieces of women’s climbing gear that help her train and send.
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Women’s Multi Pant ($99)
A great-fitting pair of pants is the holy grail for female climbers, who often struggle to find women’s-specific bottoms that are durable yet not confining. Williams’ search ended with the Women’s Multi Pant, made with a blended elastic and 91 percent nylon fabric that’s stretchy but super-tough. “I’ve worn these pants everywhere—sliding down boulders, jamming into cracks, and hiking through sand and snow,” she says. “They’ve been wet, dirty, forgotten about in the back of my truck—and a combination of all three—yet they have never smelled. No matter the temperature or environment, they always feel just right. The Multis are truly the best all-around pants I’ve ever owned.”
Black Diamond Women’s Ethos Harness ($125)
Just like the men’s Chaos, the Women’s Ethos features huge gear loops and replaces many of the stitched seams with welded ones (which are more durable and abrasion-resistant). It also boasts mesh inside the waistbelt and leg loops for better breathability over many hours of wear. The leg loops aren’t adjustable, but, Williams says, “Fear not. They give just the right amount of tightness.” She also praises the padding: “Something about the cushy waist gives me an extra confidence boost.”
Five Ten Women’s Hiangle ($165)
“This is the best women’s-specific piece of gear I’ve used,” Williams says. Unabashedly pink, this downturned shoe is stiff enough for bouldering’s toughest moves (at 4.2mm, the Stealth C4 outsole is thicker than most). These are Williams’ choice both outside and at the gym. “The leather molds perfectly to your feet,” she says. “But as with any climbing shoe, try them on first to make sure the shape is right for you.”
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Climaheat Agravic Down Hooded Jacket ($349)
“There’s a saying I adhere to after spending time in the Colorado alpine and learning (several times) the hard way: Always bring a puffy,” Williams says. “The Agravic puffy is light and durable and has a self-packing pocket, so I can save space for other important gear. It also makes a great pillow during long flights.”
Toesox Legwarmers ($35)
“There’s just something so comforting about leg warmers,” Williams says. “I like wearing them while I’m warming up inside and out. And once I’m ready to try hard, they just slide right off.”
Organic Climbing Full Pad ($185)
“I can’t say enough about the durability and grace that this pad delivers,” says Williams, who admits that the four-inch-thick crash pad is expensive but worth it. It’s big (36 by 48 inches), thick, and, she attests, “It has saved my joints more than a few times.”
MusclePharm Organic Protein Bars ($2.50)
During gym training, Williams rounds out her healthy diet of whole foods with high-protein snacks. “MusclePharm bars have the highest amount of protein without tasting like it,” she says. “They’re also great for the crag—they fill me up, but I never feel too heavy to send my project.”