FRB: How did you get into climbing
1998, I went to an ice climbing festival in the Adirondacks. I didn't
climb at all, but the guy I was dating at the time did, so I went along,
thinking, "maybe I'll give it a try." I met some amazing and inspirational
people that weekend - Alex Lowe, Kitty Calhoun, Rolo Garibotti... their
passion for climbing was contagious. I took a class that weekend, and
have been in love with climbing ever since.
FRB: How long have you climbed for?
I've been ice climbing since that January 1998; rock climbing since
the Spring of '98.
FRB: Who were some of your early mentors?
Kate: Definitely Jim Bowers
- one of my greatest friends. He lived in the town where I went to college
and was a bit of a local legend: made holds for a living (he owns Petrogrips
and Synrock), developed nearly all of the climbing in the area (including
the world renowned Bellefonte Quarry), and had done more climbing than
anyone I'd ever known. He taught me to ignore the voice in my head that
says, "you can't do that," and just go out and do it. Almost all my
climbing breakthroughs were with Jim on road-cut ice climbs way the
hell out there, hailing and sleeting skies,18-wheelers careening past,
slinging moss and dead trees for pro.... or in the Bellefonte Quarry
with local redneck-types shooting bottles off the tops of the routes
we were climbing. Good times.
FRB: Who were some of your
Kate: Jim, for sure, and then
a string of old boyfriends (epic after epic after epic). Some memorable
partners are old friends from college: Bethany Stough, Ben Williams,
Miriah Meyer, Shanthi Sivendran, Renee Sharp, Herman Pontzer. They're
all over the country now, raising kids and getting married and earning
boatloads of money. I'm sure they're all still climbing hard, though.
FRB: Who do you climb with usually?
Kate: Anyone I can convince to
rope up with me.
FRB: What else do you like to do besides climb?
Kate: I love to write I'm always
writing. I also spend a lot of time running in the mountains and road
FRB: What's it like to work at the Access Fund?
Kate: The Access Fund is a
terrific place to work. It's an unquestionably important cause, and
it feels good to work for that cause everyday. Also, I get to stay very
involved with the climbing community, I get to work with climbers every
day - people for whom climbing is vital and necessary. It's very motivating.
FRB: What brings you to the Front Range?
Kate: I used to say it was
Eldorado Canyon, but I'm a little scared of that place right now - too
many manky, half-rusted through pins teetering in loose blocks. So I
don't know... maybe Vic's.
FRB: What are some of your favorite
Kate: I've only ever spent
time at the BRC... except
for one place I used to frequent in Pennsylvania. It wasn't even open
to the public, and to get to the bouldering area you had to climb a
rickety staircase with no railings and step over broken boards and rusty
metal scraps. It was a damn hazard, but we loved it. We'd go there weekly,
though, and boulder in down jackets and hats because it was so cold.
I loved that - bouldering in the cold, dark cave, always listening to
Skynard or some equally redneck musician... It was great.
FRB: Where do you think the best
the Front Range is?
really like the Terrain Boulders, though I can't say that I've ever
actually completed a problem there. I like how remote that area is,
though. It's rare to find such quiet in the Front Range.
FRB: Do you have any favorite boulder problems
or ones that
you thought were incredible?
Kate: I love everything at
Skyland. Everything. Even all the hard stuff that I'll probably never
do - I love it all.
FRB: Favorite climbing areas in the country?
Kate: Cathedral Ledge, Seneca
Rocks, Hunters Rocks in Central PA (though I hear it's closed now -
a tragedy), Rocky Mountain National Park, and Eldo, even though it scares
me. Oh, and of course the desert of Southeastern Utah when I'm in shape
and feeling brave.
FRB: Climbing is constantly evolving.
Where do you
think it is going?
Kate: I think there are more
and more women getting into climbing, which is rad because it's such
a balancing, self-confidence building, holistically strengthening activity.
And climbing is becoming rather mainstream, providing opportunities
for more and more young people to start climbing. This youth brigade
is giving climbing a definite culture - a specific fashion, soundtrack,
lifestyle. It's awesome - it seems like everyone just keeps getting
stronger and stronger.
FRB: Do you have any projects right now?
Kate: Yes, there's a problem
near the Upper Y traverse on Flagstaff that I've been trying to do since
I've moved here. It's becoming downright ridiculous, really - everyone
I've gone there with sends the thing after one or two tries. I'm still
working on it!
FRB: What do you suggest to people who are
Kate: Don't get attached to
having pretty hands or feet.
FRB: What are your thoughts on Highballing?
I try not to think about highballing - it scares me.
FRB: Do you ever hit a plateau in your climbing?
How do you overcome
Kate: Yup - right now. I'm
feeling like my fears are preventing me from climbing any harder. I
don't know how to overcome this... maybe just keep climbing and hope
that I move through them sometime soon.
FRB: How do you deal with injuries.
Kate: I whine and complain
profusely. Then I start drinking heavily and whimper about how hard
I would be climbing if only I hadn't #$@^$ injured myself. No, no...
actually (knock on wood), I've managed to stay pretty healthy.
FRB: How do you train for hard bouldering?
Kate: I don't do any hard bouldering,
but for MODERATE bouldering I train by running and biking, doing pull-ups,
just getting out... The usual.
FRB: Parting words of wisdom Katie.
Kate: Join the Access
FRB: Thanks for the interview Kate.
Kate: You’re welcome. Thank