- Vail CO: King Cobra M10+/11-, Resurrection M7R WI5, Built for Comfort M9+, For the Ladies M9, Amphibian M8, Red Bull and Vodka M11, 7th Tenticle, 7th Chakra, Little Thang, the Mauling M8
- 1st Place Women's Speed Comp Ouray 2018
- 1st Place Women's Speed Comp Ouray 2016
- 2nd Place Women's Speed Comp Ouray 2017
Multiple First Ascents in Iceland (partner Kitty Calhoun Feb 2014):
- Freyja, WI 5, 70m, Innrihvilft valley, FA: Beth and Kitty
- Loki, WI 5, 68m, Innrihvilft valley, FA: Kitty and Beth
- Arctic Foxes, WI 4, 45m, Fifustadadalur valley, FA: Kitty and Beth
- Pink Panther, WI 5-, 45m, Fifustadadalur valley, FA: Beth and Kitty
- Unfinished, Ytrihvilft valley, Beth and Kitty
- Ouray, CO. Somewhere Over the Rainbow 5.10 WI4 M11 PG13, 2014 FA: Nelson, Goralski
- Ouray CO, Almost Somewhere WI6, M8, FA: Goralski, Nelson 2015
- 4th Place Women's Mixed Elite Comp Ouray 2018
- 5th Place Women's Mixed Elite Comp Ouray 2017
- 1st Place City Rock DryTooling Competition 2015
- 1st Place Portland Alpine Festival Comp 2011
- Competed in the UIAA World Cup Ice Climbing Comps 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Favorite type of climbing (bouldering, sports climbing, trad, etc.):
Ice Climbing, Mixed Rock and Ice, Dry Tooling
When and how did you get into climbing and what kept you interested / fascinated in the sport?
A girlfriend in college brought me to the newly opened climbing gym on campus and it was love at first crimp. I transferred to Colorado State University from a college in Michigan under the pretense of switching majors but it really was a guise so I could be closer to world class climbing.
While I was at CSU, I took an outdoor education class on Ice Climbing. I loved it. I ice climbed sporadically for years, but it wasn't until 2012 when I came to a crossroads in my life, that I decided to make ice climbing a main priority. I was a few years out from graduate school, living in Portland Oregon when almost simultaneously, I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years and was laid off from my job.
I wasn't interested in staying in the city and felt like I had been sleepwalking through my life. I wanted to do something that made me feel alive. Ice Climbing! I packed my belongings into my 1999 Ford Ranger and moved to Ouray, Colorado. Almost every day that first winter, I went to the ice park and rope soloed in the Pick-o-the-Vic area. Not only did I explore ice in the park and surrounding areas, but I discovered just how much fun dry tooling is as well. Dry tooling and mixed climbing have become my favorite facet of climbing.
Who was your childhood hero and do you consider yourself a role model now? Does it influence you at all that other people look up to you?
Growing up, I didn't know climbing was a sport. I was really into swimming and Summer Sanders was my hero. She swam butterfly and Individual Medley like I did; gold medaling in the 1992 Olympics. I was also really drawn to Picabo Street, first off because her name was so awesome and then because she was such a dominating skier. I loved watching her race on TV. She influenced my own decisions to race downhill in high school and a little in college.
I've had a couple young women come up to me and say they've seen me compete in Ouray and it influenced them to take up climbing. That makes me feel proud. These young women are so fortunate to have climbing gyms and local crags to climb at. The future of the sport rests in their hands.
What were the most important milestones in your life so far, both in climbing and in everyday life? Did you immediately recognize them as such or only later on?
One of the biggest milestones for me was back in 2014 when Kitty Calhoun asked me to go ice climbing with her in Iceland. She is a mountaineering legend and I felt with that invite, I had been asked to join play in the big leagues and that made me feel quite honored. I explained to my mom that it was like Michael Jordan had asked me to go play basketball with him.
What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?
I'm just coming back after a dreadful 2 years of what seemed like never-ending injuries. Over training lead to tendonitis in both shoulders and elbows which severely limited my climbing. As a result of the crippling tendonitis in my upper body, I started running more and subsequently tore my left hip labrum. I couldn't climb, run, walk or sit without being in pain. In Feb 2019, I had surgery to repair my hip and the recovery was the most intense I've ever experienced. I laid flat on my back, barely moving, for an entire month after surgery. Slowly, my hip healed, and I worked with a Physical Therapist to gain strength in my hip and overcome my tendonitis. It's been a long and arduous process to learn how to push my body to achieve performance without injury. So much of what I do these days while training is injury prevention.
What is your favorite climbing related story / experience?
One time, my friend Mary Harlan and I were climbing in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and we were unexpectedly benighted. As darkness fell, we made our way down to the river for water. Deep in a narrow side canyon chock full of dense trees, we startled a large animal and screamed ourselves silly sure that we were about to be eaten. We sang loud songs, clapped our hands and pleaded with the sharp toothed, flesh-eating animals to stay away from us. Mary split some cheddar cheese with me that was melted and mushy after being next to her warm body for the last 10 hours. We spooned together in the tall grass next to the river's edge and I promptly fell asleep. She spent the entire night awake and shivering while I soundly snoozed next to her. Around 5:00 am the next day she nudged me awake, annoyed that I had managed to sleep. We did the walk of shame and got back to the top of the canyon a little before noon. We sat just below the canyon rim and soaked in the sun, not wanting to return to real life and answer all the phone calls of, "Where are you!?"
Do you have a strict training schedule for when and how you train throughout the year?
I work a full-time job so I'm a bit of a weekend warrior. I'm very lucky because our 2-car garage is converted into a complete training and climbing cave. I usually train Tuesday and Thursdays in my garage and then climb outside Saturday and Sunday. If I'm hoping to send my project on the weekend, I may not climb on Thursday. At least once or twice a week, I go for a moderate run. Rest is a concept I've been embracing because I'm hardwired to think more is better and that's not necessarily the case. I stretch frequently and I do PT band exercises for my shoulders and elbows. More training tends to more injuries!
What advice can you give to somebody looking to improve their training routine?
Start out slowly. Rest. Get a training journal. Read climbing training books. Pick a few exercises to do and make up your own routine and make sure you include exercises that you don't particularly like; train your weaknesses. Find a training buddy. Ask someone you look up to what they do to train.
What do you think of indoor climbing gyms in relation to climbing on actual rock?
I sure wish climbing gyms had been around when I was growing up! I think it's an excellent way to get introduced to the sport. I think the gym is a sanitized version of climbing (no corona virus pun intended). That is, you don't have to worry about gear, anchors, etc. You get to focus on climbing. When you transition to outside, there's so much more to think about. Even basic things like cleaning a sport anchor takes knowledge and skills that one doesn't need inside.
Are you able to do a one-arm pull-up? How about a single finger?
I think my elbows would revolt; I try to baby them as much as possible.
How much of the success as a pro climber is due to show and how much due to actual climbing skill?
I'm going to decline to answer this question. No comment.
Is it possible for anybody to eventually perform a one-armed pull-up or get to the top of the Eiger/Matterhorn, or do you really have to be born for it?
I think some people are born with more natural ability, for example, more slow or fast twitch muscle but I don't think that genetics is a pure indicator of success. Climbing is a very mental sport. In fact, sometimes I think climbing is more mental than physical and that's why I find it so satisfying. There are plenty of strong people out there who don't like to be scared or frustrated by a cryptic project.
How important is it to set goals in professional sports? What are your goals / targets you are working towards in climbing and in life?
Climbing is a metaphor for life. The things I've worked the hardest for in my life are the things I'm most proud of. If something comes easy, I don't think I appreciate it as much. Finding 1000$ on the ground is an awesome bonus but working hard to earn that 1000$ is much more emotionally satisfying. I grow as a human as I expand my repertoire of what's possible.
It's hard to be a good climber but it's even harder to be a good person. I wish my legacy to be not only the routes I've done but the laughter, love and compassion that's accompanied me. I hope my climbing partners have a good time regardless of the grade or outcome.
How to you deal with extremely hard climbing problems? Do you ever get frustrated and give up on them or do they motivate you even more?
Honestly, I think the mental aspect of projecting is the hardest. It's easy to stay psyched while I'm seeing incremental improvement such as when I figure out the beta for a move that unlocks a sequence. That's the physical part. But sometimes, there are lulls in forward progress and sometimes one even goes backwards. Somedays, even the easy parts feel hard. And that's where the mental struggle overtakes the physical. The emotional rollercoaster begins with negative self-talk and doubt. The hardest part of projecting for me is dealing with this rollercoaster my mind likes to hop onto. The mental anguish often feels more acute than any physical pain or weakness.
Future of climbing
Is there anything you would like to change about the current developments in climbing?
I think that for a long time, we climbers thought we weren't doing anything bad to the environment. We thought that we were the ones closest to nature because we were in these crazy off the beaten path places. But now there are more and more climbers in these far-flung locations our impacts are hard to ignore. From biological crust degradation in the deserts to human waste issues on glaciers, we have a negative impact. I think that's something that climbers don't want to look at. We don't want to acknowledge that what we are doing may be harming what we love most. It bothers me that I contribute to global warming by travelling around the world and driving across country. It bothers me that I'm part of the problem. I'm reminded of the little girl in the Bugs Bunny Cartoon who hugs Bugs tighter and tighter until she's strangling him. I don't want to love our climbing places to death.
Where do you see the sport going in the next years, what will change and what is your role going to be in it?
I'd like to introduce my peculiar niche of climbing to everyone. It's quite odd, climbing rock with ice tools, but it is so much fun! Dangling upside down from an ice tool and flipping from figure 9 to figure 4 is fun and I hope more people discover just how exciting this odd aspect of the sport can be! And once you've mastered the Fig 4/9, you can increase the difficulty by doing it dry tool style (DTS) without yaniros.