More Than It Hurts… and other stories of (mis)adventure by womxn who climb and mountaineer is a new anthology of stories by adventurous womxn that launches today!

What’s More Than It Hurts all about?

More Than It Hurts is a collection of personal stories by womxn, including people of diverse genders, who rock-climb and mountaineer. And it launches TODAY!

The title comes from Caitlin Horan’s story about batting leukemia and self-doubt as she sets herself an epic climbing challenge. Other stories cover ill-advised misadventures, summiting personal goals, dealing with tragedy in the mountains, confronting sexism at altitude, and climbing while (heavily) pregnant. Wowsers.

This book is produced by womxn’s rock-climbing and alpine club, Climb & Wine.


Some of the contributors! Left to right, Araminta McLennan, Selene Gittings, Belle Tukin, Emily Small, Wendy Bruere, Caitlin Horan, Kate Baecher, Thelma Ghayyem

What do the experts say?

More Than It Hurts is a profound acknowledgement of the female fighting spirit; showcasing resilience, courage, determination, never never never give up attitude and pure grit. Tantalising and hard to put down, each story takes us on an intimate journey across continents, covering all terrain and emotions… More Than It Hurts will compel you to go out and conquer your own dreams.’

— Monique Forestier

‘Inspiring, engrossing and thought-provoking … this diverse anthology of personal stories left me with a longing to get out into the mountains again.’

— Tim Macartney-Snape

Amazing! Where can I get my copy?

The book will be stocked by Climbing Anchors, Paddy Pallin, and Mont, as well as at climbing gyms in Sydney and Canberra, including Climbfit, Nomad, and Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing. 

You can also buy it online

You must’ve had some awesome sponsors to get that off the ground, right?

The book’s been published with support from Lead Sponsors Climbing Anchors and Mammut, with second sponsors Mountain Equipment, and the Australian School of Mountaineering. (See what we did there with calling the sponsorship categories ‘lead’ and ‘second’? Yeah, literally no-one has laughed at that witty rock-climbing reference yet.)

Not sold yet? Why don’t we let the book do the talking? Here’s a sneak peek of some of the epic stories you can find in More Than It Hurts.


Climbing is for Every Body

By Araminta McLennan

Araminta (Minty) is a Queensland expat, born with cerebral palsy. Growing up, she dabbled in a variety of active pursuits before discovering and falling in love with climbing.

*Sometime in 2018. Settling in for my weekly Sunday phone call with Dad, because I’m an adult but I also need regular reassurance that I’m a functioning adult from someone who’s been doing it longer.*

[Phone rings, Dad picks up]

Dad: Hello Araminta, how are you? How has your week been?

Me: Hi Dad! [Yes, I am exclamation-point excited about talking to my dad, he’s a good egg.] It’s been good, a bit of a long work week but I watched this movie, I think you’ll love it. It’s called Eddie the Eagle

Dad: Oh really? What’s it about?

Me: It’s about this English fellow, he decided he really wanted to be an Olympian and he couldn’t qualify for his chosen sport. But he discovered that Great Britain didn’t have a downhill skiing team, so to make it into the Olympics all he had to do was qualify in downhill skiing and he’d get in by default. He didn’t care so much about winning, he just wanted to achieve his Olympic dream. It’s wholesome and good and it’s got gruff Hugh Jackman – the trifecta of cinematic good times.

Dad: So he essentially tried every sport until he found one he could compete in, so he could say he was an Olympian?

Me: I… I mean yep. But it was wholesome and uplifting, and much more of a captivating journey than how you’ve just put it.

Dad: You remember how I got you to try all those sports as a kid? Every time you opted out of something I found something else for you to try?

Me: The relentless attempts are seared into the core of my being. Go on.

Dad: I’ll be honest, I was hoping you’d pick something up and carry it to the Paralympics. Then I could ride your success to minor fame. But you just had to pick the one sport that doesn’t qualify. Bit selfish, but I mean it’s fine.

Me: Sorry Dad, but also not sorry at all, not everything is about you. I picked climbing so I could rise above your disappointment, at least literally.

[Collective laughter, comedic genius is acknowledged, conversation continues.]

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been told I can’t do something. Or at least, if someone told me I refused to hear it. I can chalk that up to my supportive family, championed by my Dad, Phil.

At age two I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, something that affects approximately 17 million people worldwide. No two cases are the same, and the spectrum of impact is broad.

For me, it means my balance is impacted and I have a limited range of motion in my lower limbs, so I navigate outdoors using two single-point walking sticks. Most people would accept that as an excuse to focus any potential talents beyond the realm of sport, but not Phil.

I grew up in a small town in Western Queensland, where as a pillar of the community, Phil was the coach for the local Under 6’s soccer team. This meant a healthy dose of inclusive nepotism made me the 2001 team goalkeeper and marked the start of my plethora of athletic attempts.

Now I know what you’re thinking, soccer players are fast! They’re agile, coordinated, flexible! Am I any of those things? No sir. But I did have two walking sticks at my disposal, the perfect assistive tools for blocking and redirecting a soccer ball. All without having to move more than a few inches from my ‘circle of power’ in the middle of the net. 

Are you imagining a Rocky-esque training montage of me realising my true power, and swinging my sticks around the soccer net like a ninja? An unstoppable goal deflecting machine? It probably didn’t always look exactly like that, but it felt like it.

That was the first time I felt genuinely included, and not just given a token spot that had no impact so people wouldn’t complain or the team could say they were inclusive. I was made to feel like a valuable part of the team, and that my differences, well, they made a difference. 

My superstar soccer career was short-lived, largely owing to my short attention span and the fact that not every coach is as inclusive as my dear old dad. But fear not, sports fans. Phil wasn’t going to let me divert from my unknowing path to Paralympic glory that easily.

The Three Musketeers

By Thelma Ghayyem

Thelma is a mountaineer, ice climber and rock climber from Iran. She moved to Sydney with her husband in 2016.

When I was in high school in Tehran, my best friend Sheeva Abedi and I studied for our university entrance exams together at each other’s places. One day in one of our textbooks we saw a photo of the highest mountain in Iran – Mt Damavand, 5,610m.

We looked at each other, and both had the same thought, ‘Wow! That looks amazing! We should climb that mountain!’

It took us two weeks to arrange everything for our little adventure, from borrowing a car from a friend to giving our school an excuse as to why we wouldn’t be in class that day (without our parents knowing). It was our first time planning anything like that – something so wild and strange – so it was a huge adrenaline rush for us and our young hearts were full of excitement!

On the day, finally the big journey started. We headed down to the freeway – it was only a few hours drive from where we lived – and finally our feet ended up in front of that beautiful mountain.

There are at least 16 different routes up Mt Damavand, but most people take the standard southern route, and we began the same way.

Technically, for pro climbers, Mt Damavand isn’t hard to climb from this route and you can basically walk up. The main danger is altitude sickness, as you ascend quite fast.

While the mountain was formed from a volcano, it last erupted thousands of years ago – although there are still sulphuric fumes emitted near the summit. Most people climb Mt Damavand over three days, and should come well-prepared as it can be -10°C at the summit, even in summer. 

But we didn’t know any of that back then. All we knew at the time was that it was a beautiful mountain, with many amazing poems written about it. All we knew was the passion that we felt in our hearts for being there, and feeling for ourselves the magic that poets had seen in this mountain. 

We parked the car and started walking along the trail to Camp 2 in the wind that was blowing that day. Then something strange happened to me, which still brings tears of happiness in my eyes when I recall it.

As we walked, I was looking at the wild slopes of the mountain and at the colourful and wonderful flowers in that unique part of nature, and thinking about what would happen to me when I got back home and had to explain where I had been to my family.

I was feeling quite distressed about this, but suddenly I heard a voice: ‘Come to me… more steps, keep walking… I’m waiting for you… come closer…’

I stopped and asked Sheeva if she had spoken, but she said no she had not. She said she hadn’t heard anything. There was no one else nearby either.

Only then I realised I was in an imaginary conversation with Mother Earth, which seemed so real to me. I took it as a sign and to keep going, as the voice in my head kept telling me to keep going, up and up.

We reached Camp 2 after around 11km of steady hiking uphill. We were lucky because a group of mountaineers coming down from their ascent saw us in our school uniforms with our school backpacks. They looked surprised and asked what we were doing there. 

We showed them the photo in the book, and explained we were going to climb to the summit.  


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