Introducing one of the early-days VertiGals, Christy Meredith! Christy is a fantastic climber and scientist who lived in Duluth for 3 years before she moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico to pursue a position as a Project Manager at the Jornada Long-term Ecological Research Program. While here she was a Postdoc at the EPA and always up to climb outside and organized a few great women climbing outings. We miss the enthusiasm and joy she brought to the group but are excited to hear what she’s been up to since she moved away (it rhymes with rad!). She’s been climbing for 16 years now but it’s not her only passion; she loves to get out backpacking, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, traveling, she’s learning to play the mandolin, and hopefully combining her love of sampling local micro-breweries with her interest in making new friends!
What is the best part about where you live/climb now, Las Cruces, NM and the Organ and Dona Ana Mountains?
The mountains are very rugged and wild. I am becoming a multi-pitch trad climber, whereas I mostly did sport climbing before. It is fun and challenging to develop new skills. My main climbing partner is Marta Reece. She started climbing in her 50’s. She is now 67, and has probably climbed more routes here than anyone. She is somewhat of a local celebrity, and it has been a great opportunity to learn from her.
What do you miss about North Shore climbing or the Duluth climbing community?
I especially miss the beautiful views climbing over Lake Superior. Also, we do not have a climbing gym here like in Duluth. The climbing gym helped me to stay in shape, and I loved the social aspect of it. Finally, I just started ice climbing before I left Duluth, and I definitely miss that as well. I really think that the area around Duluth has some of the best ice climbing in the nation.It is amazing that the City of Duluth made the ice climbing area of Casket Quarry into a city park. Most of all, I miss the sense of community and recognition of the importance of outdoor and wild places for all socioeconomic groups, which was encouraged by the local officials and people in Duluth.
What do you not miss or what would you improve now that you’ve experienced other climbing areas and communities?
I do not really have anything negative to say about the climbing community in Duluth. I was involved in VertiGals and the Duluth Climbing Coalition. Good people are involved in both of those groups. Both groups work towards providing climbing opportunities for all socioeconomic groups and genders in Duluth. It was surprising to me that there is not more of an outdoor climbing community in Duluth, as most people just go to the gym. It is not necessarily a negative thing, but it would have been nice to have more people involved in the outdoor climbing community as long as there was enough crag space!
What do you love about climbing?
I love many aspects of climbing. What really got me hooked was this meditative state I get in sometimes when I am climbing. I don’t think about anything else, and my troubles slip away. I also love visiting beautiful places and hanging out with interesting people. Finally, being a type A person in the field of academia, I often feel I never have any tangible accomplishments. But when I go climbing, I can set out to work on a climbing project or have the goal of climbing a particular mountain. And it feels really good to accomplish a climbing goal.
How are you hoping to grow as a climber or what skills are you hoping to develop?
Right now, I am learning to be a better trad climber, including how to set better anchors, to climb using a two-rope system, and to place gear. I hope to continue developing these skills in order to become a more well-rounded climber.
Share a story of an impactful climb or experience you’ve had related to climbing (good or bad), or an experience you’re proud of.
I think one of the most memorable experiences was when my friend Stacey and I did a 3-pitch hugely run-out climb at City of Rocks Idaho called Dikes of Gastonia. It was supposed to be easy, but there were no bolts and the entire climb involved belaying off horns and using horns for protection. It was much harder than I thought, and the lichen made it very slippery.When I got to the top, I had 2 feet of rope left. That climb was definitely a rush!
What is something about your climbing history no one would ever guess?
I have climbed in many states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, and Michigan I also love canyoneering as much as climbing. You get to see some beautiful places that most people don’t get to see, and use many skills including bouldering, rapelling, rope management, teamwork, and problem solving.
It’s so great to hear about the adventures Christy has been having, and how much she is always growing and learning as a climber. Once a VertiGal, always a VertiGal!