Interview conducted and compiled by Stephanie Hall
Meet our second WCW, Catherine! Catherine is a newer climber who has jumped headfirst into VertiGals and has quickly become one of the most consistent faces at our VertiGals climb nights and an important member our of Board! Catherine has a degree in Geology (how fitting!) and works as Environmental Field Scientist. When she isn’t looking up at the cliffs she’s looking down hunting for agates, enjoying the calm of sitting on the shores of Lake Superior sifting through rocks, hiking, or mountain biking.
What is something about your climbing history no one would ever guess?
I am terrified of heights. A lot of people already know this about me, as I’m very vocal about it, but it is something that my experiences with climbing have been shaped around. I continue to struggle with this fear on a regular basis: I have days where I get to the top of the wall and dangle, feeling like I’m on top of the world, while the next day I make it 15 feet off the ground and begin to feel nauseated, clinging to the wall, terrified. When dealing with these types of fears and similar barriers, it’s good to remind yourself (and each other) that progress is not always going to take linear path and that it is important to be kind to yourself. Some days, making it half way up the wall is a victory, some days just showing up to the gym is a victory, and that’s okay.
What do you love about climbing?
I love to climb because climbing is not your typical sport. You don’t need to be fast or particularly strong, all you need is the willingness to try. What I especially like about climbing is the focus and problem solving that is incorporated into it. There’s nothing quite like figuring out how to complete a bouldering problem you’ve been working on! Finally, the relationships that are formed between climbers and belayers or spotters is incredible; no one has your back like your belayer, offering advice and encouragement throughout your climbing experience.
What made you join/get involved with VertiGals?
Initially, I got involved through my sister, Claire, who strongly encouraged me to join. However, it did not take long to see how necessary this organization is to the Duluth climbing community! There are an incredible amount of barriers to getting into climbing, particularly for women. I want to help to remove some of those barriers so that it is easier for women to get into climbing.
Favorite inspirational female climber/podcast/blog/resource:
While it doesn’t necessarily have to do with climbing, I’ve been listening to a lot of the Tough Girl Podcast on my commute – it’s all about incredible women from around the world who have done some pretty amazing things. Very motivating!
As for where I go for inspiration, I love Melise Edwards on Instagram (meliseymo) – she has one of the most encouraging Instagram pages I’ve ever come across, and she’s in neuroscience along with being an awesome climber! I also really enjoy Teal Drehar’s (tealasaurus) Instagram. I love seeing women succeed both in the science community and in the climbing community!
Look for Catherine’s smiling face at the next VertiGals Climb night December 7th!