As a woman in climbing, I occupy two worlds: one defined by strength and grit, the other by beauty and traditional ideas of femininity. It’s something I still struggle with.
Last fall, hours before a red-carpet gala for the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York, I was getting ready in a hotel room with other pro female athletes. Noticeably, there was a plethora of different body types, from Olympic gymnasts and figure skaters to tennis players and skiers to snowboarders and race-car drivers to rowers and me—the rock climber. Each of us takes pride in the physical strength our respective fields require, and we also find joy in having our makeup done and wearing glamorous gowns for a night.
Red carpet events are a completely different side of my job than waking up on the side of a cliff, not having looked in the mirror in a couple days and proceeding to pull my hair back and climb. I live in both worlds: one that puts me in an environment highlighting beauty and femininity; the other valuing strength and grit.
It’s about time we had emojicons for climbers! For the past year, I’ve been working on creating one.
have wanted a climber emoji for a few years now. Admittedly, I love using emojis in my text messages and captions on social media. You can tell a lot about a person by their most frequently used emojis: how they interact with people, their sense of humor, how their mind works. For instance, these are my top emojis:
While there seems to be an emoji for all kinds of sports and outdoor activities, like surfing and weight lifting, there shockingly hadn’t been one for one of the fastest-growing adventure sports—until today! I first tweeted about the lack of a climbing emoji last May, tagging @GetEmoji, to highlight the absence. To my surprise, the account actually tweeted me back and said that I could submit an emoji design. I direct-messaged back, excited.
Athletes who love climbing outdoors aren’t positioning themselves to perform well at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Here’s why.
The picture of how competitive climbing will work in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is beginning to come into focus. The International Olympic Committee announced last fall that the sport would be included in the next Games—in speed climbing, sport, and bouldering—and this weekend an official assembly in Canada confirmed a combined format. It feels like a missed opportunity to bring climbing to the biggest stage in the world.
“How can you let her do that? It’s so dangerous!” For years, my mom has fielded this question from other parents about my climbing. Here’s what she thinks about raising an adventurous daughter in an unfamiliar sport.
“Every time I hear about what Sasha does, I think, ‘I’m so glad that’s not my daughter!’” I overheard a woman say this to my mom at a holiday party last December. The woman was referring to the fact that I’m a professional climber. My mom, Andrea, later told me that she often gets this type of response from other mothers when she mentions what I do for a living.
I guess that perspective makes sense. On the surface, climbing seems pretty dangerous. The reality, of course, is that there are ways to calculate and reduce risk if you know what you’re doing. The odds of a fatal climbing accident are relatively low. But a lot of people don’t know that. My mom certainly didn’t know that back in 1998, when she hosted my brother’s birthday party at a local climbing gym in our hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. That was my first climbing experience—the event that set me on a trajectory to make the sport my life.
The day after the presidential election, on November 5, I felt like all of my thoughts were lost in a cloud. My mind felt like it was stuck in a maze and I couldn’t concentrate. I could not understand how Donald Trump, who I thought of as a villain, could win. There was some hole in my gut where my confidence in humanity should be.
What upset me as much was the fact that 37 percent of millennials voted for Trump. I’m a part of that group, and I’m shocked. How could this have happened?
When I openly endorsed the Democratic Party this last election I received numerous comments like, “crawl under a rock,” “stay out of politics,” and “focus on climbing, sweetie.” I felt like these comments were particular jabs at my awareness of the world beyond rock climbing and evidence of the misogyny that exists in our country. Receiving remarks that imply that my sole purpose in life is to scale cliffs. It’s not.
Tags: election, millenial, trump
GoPro has an annual Athlete Summit in which they fly the entire team out to an incredible location to bond while being active outdoors, sharing our sports like surfing, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, diving… Etc. This year GoPro has chosen the Gold Coast in Australia.
While it is an incredibly short time period to fly so far for, the experience sounded worth it.
So, on Friday I handed in the last academic assignment of my undergraduate career as a Columbia University Student. Then, Saturday, I flew out to Denver for the American Alpine Club event with Adidas. I went to Earth Treks in Golden afterwards, and then made my way back to the airport to continue my journey to Australia.
Growing up, my parents always advocated the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle. They were supporters of academic and physical achievements – from encouraging me, and my brother, to succeed in the classroom and on our playing fields. I liken my mom to having the spirit of a truck driver. After school my mom would pick my brother and I up and drive Charlie (my brother) to hockey practice and me to the climbing gym. She learned to belay (manage the other end of the rope) while I climbed so that I could maximize my workout and time efficiency while there. During weekends, she would drive or fly with me to wherever it was in the world that I needed to be. For instance, when I wanted to break on to the international competitive scene when I was 12, she sought out the most experienced climbing coach in the country at the time: Vadim Vinokur, and she would drive me up to New York City every other weekend from DC, and back, sometimes leaving at 4am in the morning and returning at 2am the next day, just so that I could have the opportunity to be the best that I could be at my sport.
We all have our own role models and people that we look up to for unique reasons. I look up to my mom for her independence, her intellect, her strength, and her dedication. Thank you, mom, for encouraging me to be comfortable with who I am and for teaching me to create my own path.
Tags: mom, mothers day, role model
The moment when everything clicks and I trust my body to take over:
The boundary between what I can and cannot do becomes blurred.
During my Fall Break from school I went to the Red River Gorge, Kentucky with my mom. Last March, I went to the Red River Gorge for my Spring Break. I began working on a climb called “Thanatopsis.” This climb is located at a sector of the ‘Red’ called the “Motherlode.” which is known for having the highest concentration of steep, hard climbs at the Red.
Climbing has the potential of being a year-round sport. There is always good weather to find during the year. Though, I cannot think of a sport in which athletes are expected to Peak Perform at all times during the year. In order to keep a healthy routine, maximize psyche, and remain non-injured, I think that it is really important to have rest periods; also known as, an Off Season.
Due to my school schedule, I have the most consecutive free time to travel and to climb during the summer. Essentially, from mid May until the beginning of September, I have a break from University. This time off from school is my time to really maximize my climbing trip schedule and to chase after my goals that I set for my season. For this plan to work, from February into May, I am training for my upcoming objectives. Therefore, I always hope to be in my best shape by early summer and into early fall. Then, during the Fall, I wind my training down and focus on Sport Specific Training, including Strength Training and High Intensity Intervals.
Image: “Flying Circus,” M10
Prior to venturing into the realm of ice climbing, the only thing I knew about Ouray, Colorado, was that it was the setting for Anne Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. Apart from that, the small Victorian mountain town may be most known to climbers for the annual Ouray Ice Festival. This year marked the 20th anniversary. Ouray is hemmed by mountains with charming old buildings and restaurants that date back its mining days. When the festival is not in session, Ouray is a quiet town.
This year, I competed in the International Elite Mixed Climbing Competition. Granted, I’m not exactly the typical, seasoned mixed-climbing veteran to be competing. I actually began learning just over a week ago.
Tags: ice climbing