Interview compiled and edited by Stephanie Hall
The temps are finally dropping, which means ice season is right around the corner! We thought for this week’s WCW we’d check in with one of our members who loves to ice climb: Karina Krosbakken (Karinak_dlth). In addition to being a climber (and maker of great try-hard faces!), Karina is a social worker/care consultant and avid outdoors woman. Most days you can find her outside; lately she’s been dry-tooling at Casket Quarry but if she’s not climbing she’s trail running, XC skiing, or biking. She loves to travel whether the adventure is a BWCA canoe trip, backpacking, exploring the world, or visiting her family in Mexico.
What do you love about climbing?
I love that climbing offers so much variety. There is always something fun, new, and challenging to do. You can boulder, sport climb, trad climb, ice climb, and more. Within each discipline or even a single route there is variety. There are so may techniques and styles of climbing to explore that there is something for everyone at every level and there are always different things to work on. I personally enjoy trying to push my abilities and be challenged in different ways. Climbing is also so amazing because even with the ability to push one’s self, there are so many things people can do well within their comfort zones too.
What do you love about ice climbing?
I have probably been climbing regularly for two winters now and I love that it is new and challenging for me. Ice climbing is a fantastic way to get outside in the cold dark months, it can be so magical to be surrounded by ice in a Narnia-like landscape. I love winter, snow, ice, and climbing so ice climbing is the perfect fit for me.
For someone who hasn’t ice climbed what are the biggest challenges/differences they might encounter?
I still consider myself very much a novice at ice climbing but I would say for many people one of the main challenges would be body temperature management and generally coping with the elements. Additionally, the additional gear can be a barrier for folks (FYI for Duluth folks, rental gear is available through UMD RSOP and VE). I also think another challenge for folks, especially rock climbers is learning to become comfortable using tools instead of your actual hands and feet… The movement of ice climbing is very different movement from rock climbing, so it can require a bit of an adjustment to transition from rock to ice.
How did you get into ice climbing?
Taylor (my husband) had done some ice climbing in high school and college. He brought me to Casket Quarry for a weekend of climbing back in high school. At that time, I wasn’t really climbing regularly and I don’t recall immediately falling in love with it; having sharp points on my tools and feet really freaked me out! I then climbed a couple of times year later in the cities and grew to like it a bit more. Of course when we moved to Duluth it became an instant regular event! The access to ice climbing in Duluth is phenomenal since Casket Quarry is right here in the city, Sandstone is close, and there are many other areas to explore only a few hours away.
What made you join/get involved with VertiGals?
I knew a lot of the amazing gals before the VertiGals group was started, so when they were involved, I figured it must be fun 🙂 It has been very fun to meet new people and even climb with some of my climbers friends that I see a lot but don’t regularly climb with.
What were your first rock climbing experiences?
I was very fortunate to be able to start climbing at a younger age. My dad was into climbing since before I was born; therefore, I started climbing very periodically as I grew up in the flattest place on Earth (Fargo-Moorhead) which had only one sad little gym. Climbing was not a very accessible sport. Thankfully my dad made it a point to get me into the sport by allowing me to join in on an adult only climbing trip to Bear’s Lodge (Devil’s Tower) when I was 11 years old. I hadn’t really climbed much before that outside of an occasional trip to the gym. Doing that trip at a young age was the most miserable and scared I had ever been, but it was also very impactful and was the foundation for so many other things in my life. It’s a long story but we didn’t get to the top, mostly because I got really scared half way up. I was definitely upset I didn’t finish and sort of held a grudge for a number of years after.
Since that trip, I had nagged my dad to do it again because I couldn’t let it go. So, when I was a freshman in high-school he lead a team of totally new climbers and myself up Devils Tower (we did train and practice systems ahead of time etc.). This is also where I first got a crush on this totally hot kid named Taylor Krosbakken… I taught him how to tie a figure 8 and he belayed me up the tower and many years later we got married 🙂
Both of these trips really taught me a lot about myself. I learned I am both a much bigger scardie-cat then I had ever imagined but in a way I am also much tougher than I thought. It is was both a very humbling and empowering. Both experiences pushed me way out of my comfort zone at a young age and taught me how to get better at tolerating being uncomfortable. I still get scared climbing in certain situations and I am always working on being a more confident leader (I hate falling) but that is part of the process.
After these trips, I took a long hiatus from climbing regularly aside from the occasional trip to Palisade Head, Taylor’s Fall’s or in the gym until Taylor and I moved to Duluth three years ago. Taylor did not take a hiatus and passionately continued to explore and peruse climbing as he does now. He really bugged me to get back into it after moving here. I am so glad we did because I can say we have had and continue to have so many fun climbing adventures that are both empowering and humbling. I am excited for so many more! Plus, I have been able to be a part of such a wonderful climbing community in Duluth and am now a part of VertiGals which is such a positive group of women supporting and encouraging one another!