I honestly cringe a little bit every time I hear the term. Especially when it’s applied to a woman who is actually just the second or third ascensionist of a route. Sure, climbing continues to be a male dominated sport, but the earliest female climber we have record of is a mountaineer known as “Miss Parminter,” who was exploring the alps in the 1790’s. So I guess it seems telling that, although there have undoubtedly been “first male ascents” in the span of climbing history and women’s participation isn’t recent, this is not “a thing” the way “first female ascents” are. Am I the only one who feels like there is some implication that an FFA is newsworthy because it’s somehow more of an achievement or more difficult for women to climb, or that it isn’t as prestigious or worthwhile for a man to make the second ascent of a route put up by a woman? Why do we have this term, and what does it really mean? The climbing community is also predominantly Caucasian - but the idea of making a big deal out of “first African-American ascents” or something feels like it carries some pretty uncomfortable insinuations (and, notably, we don’t do so). Why are FFA’s different? I am all for highlighting and celebrating the achievements of female climbers, but this FFA thing seems like a pretty arbitrary and clumsy way to go about it.
Katie Lambert on Moonlight Buttress, 5.12d, Zion National Park