Climbing and advocacy are two things that are close to my heart. Protecting and giving back to the places that I’m so lucky to play in is something I feel really passionate about. Mountain Hardwear posted about Save Red Rock last month with one of their athletes, Angie Payne. I got to sit down—well, send off millions of questions via email more like it—with Angie to ask her a few questions around being a professional athlete, stewardship, and advocacy.
A few years ago I celebrated my 25th birthday in the Eastern Sierra. I had four whole days dedicated to fun, some driving to and from the Bay Area, but no agenda. I’d been to the East Side before, to tackle Mt. Whitney and some ice climbing, but had never driven the length of 395. I’m always stuck with the dilemma of trying to see something of everything, or sticking to just one spot. For my 25th trip around the sun, I was going to try to see a bit of it all.
The first time I ever led trad was about a year ago. I got a crash course in placing nuts right before. My friend mumbled some stuff to me, patted me on the back, and headed up the pitch with another friend. I would meet them up there. I nervously adjusted the sling containing the alpine draws and nuts. I thumbed through all the cams and started to climb. My first piece was a nut, right off the deck. My second piece was another nut, perfectly slotted into a constriction right before a lieback. I didn’t trust it. I don’t know why. I was afraid of kicking it out. I froze. And then I lowered off it, too unsure of myself and my abilities to continue. The pitch was a 5.4 on low angle slab.
Matthes Crest is one of the iconic, classic High Sierra climbs, and it’s been on my todo list for god knows how long. A granite knife ridge cutting straight through the sky, this beast of a rock is tucked away in the backcountry of Tuolumne Meadows away from Highway 120 and any main trails. This was my one sufferfest this summer that didn’t feel too much like suffering. We somehow ended the long day still smiling and laughing.
As a climber, most of my weekends are spent in the mountains where the rock is prime and the views are unbeatable. Local crags like, Castle Rock, Indian Rock, are my playground on days where I can’t make the 3+ hour drive out to the Sierra. Sometimes it’s hard to give up that play time, and sometimes, the stars align and I have that opportunity to give back to the places where I play.