Favorite type of climbing (bouldering, sports climbing, trad, etc.):
Trad! And Sport
When and how did you get into climbing and what kept you interested / fascinated in the sport?
When I was 12 I took a trip to Yosemite with my dad and tried toproping on the Swan Slabs. But since there were no climbing gyms very close by where I lived (Fort Worth, TX and then Atlanta, GA), I just stuck with gymnastics and then track for a while. At age 16 I joined a climbing gym about an hour away and started driving myself there on the weekends. I liked that climbing pushed me out of my comfort zone and empowered me to commit to moves that my mind didn't think were possible. I then chose to go to school at CU Boulder and pursue my climbing as well.
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?
Lynn Hill! I hope I'm someone's role model :). I try to be as authentic as I can with people and share my struggles along with successes. Something I'm passionate about is Mental Health, and I want people to see the real me and the ups and downs I have had with anxiety. So often on social media we just see the highlights of someone's life, but I think it's good to show that no one is perfect. It just makes me want to be transparent.
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?
Sending China Doll was a huge milestone because I never thought I could climb 5.14 trad. It took hard work and I'm so proud of what I put into it. Also, I think moving back to Boulder in 2018 (I lived in Vegas for a couple years after graduating from CU) really set a new direction for my whole life. I have had experiences, made amazing friends, had career opportunities that may have never happened had I stayed in Vegas. But I do miss it sometimes! I'm glad for that experience as well. I grew a lot in my time away from Boulder and felt like I found myself and got rid of my ego while I was away. Also, I think seeing a psychiatrist and going to therapy was a huge milestone for me. Accepting that my anxiety had gotten to a bad place (both in 2014, and in 2019 again) was really important for me, and changed my whole life for the better.
What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?
When I was 20 I developed a viral thyroid disease that left me feeling really weak and tired all the time. It lasted about a year. It's funny because that's when I wanted to start getting into competition climbing, but since I felt so bad all the time I decided against it and started climbing outside more. And I ended up getting into trad climbing shortly after. It's strange how our life directs us to what we were really meant for.
Anxiety has also been a factor that has really made me struggle. There are bad days where everything just feels overwhelming and I feel like my self worth is really low. But it also has taught me a lot. I don't know if I would be so obsessive as I am without it, nor if I would appreciate the presence that I find in climbing. It's a part of me and learning to manage it has made me stronger.
What is your favorite climbing related story / experience?
Hmmm there's so many! I think one that sticks out is watching Heather Weidner send China Doll back in 2016. I got to belay her! And just the chills that it still gives me to think about that day is incredible. We were screaming and crying and so ecstatic. Watching her fight so hard for many days and finally break through - those moments are so valuable. And it's pretty cool that I ended up going through the process and sending China doll a few years later. Heather also supported me through the ups and downs of the projecting process! She's an inspiration to me.