Purpose. The purpose of the study was to reveal a possible relationship between maximal gripping force and climbing ability as well as to compare a decrease in handgrip force caused by training session in male and female climbers. Basic procedures. Seventy-four climbers (49 males and 25 females) took part in a climbing session on artificial wall. Grip force of both hands was measured twice - before and after the training session. Main findings. The subjects self-reported their climbing abilities in a quantitative Australian scale. In both groups, climbing ability correlated with handgrip force related to body mass. Relative force significantly decreased (F1,72 = 53.2, p < 0.001) post-exercise from 6.83 ± 1.16 to 5.96 ± 1.18 N/kg in males and from 5.43 ± 0.91 to 4.94 ± 0.84 N/kg in females. The decrease was significantly greater in male climbers (F1,72 = 4.11, p < 0.05). Conclusions. Less decrease in strength postclimbing in female can positively affect their climbing ability and compensate lower relative handgrip strength. Women should draw more attention to maximal strength training while men to climbing technique and endurance.