Rock climbing equipment is very high tech these days, and there are many safety features that weren’t available just a few years ago.
However, this wasn’t the case in the early 1900s, and one amazing photo taken in Holyrood Park shows just how dangerous rock climbing was.
Lucy Smith and Pauline Ranken were two members of the Ladies’ Scottish Climbing Club that was founded in 1908, and they can be seen ascending Salisbury Crags while wearing long, ankle-length skirts, blouses, hats, and shoes. The only protection they wore was a length rope tied around each of their waists, and there were no crampons, harnesses, or any modern safety equipment available to them.
Lucy Smith, one of the women in the photo, was also one of the founders of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club.
She founded the club together with Jane Inglis Clarke and her daughter Mabel, and they did it because they were barred from joining the men-only Scottish Mountaineering Club.
The three women used to climb in Scotland and the Alps before forming the club, and they did it in thick, long tweed skirts, smart jackets, and hats. The men’s club wore stout boots and trousers, which must have made things much easier.
The club had 14 members by the end of 1908, and women had to ascend four peaks of at least 3,000 feet with two snow climbs and two rock climbs in order to qualify.
They would start their climbs in their restrictive, long skirts to be decent at the beginning, but when there were no men around, they would often discard the skirts and climb in knickerbockers: the knee-length trousers that could be hidden under the dress.