Interview written and compiled by Stephanie Hall
This week’s WCW is a face many of you who have been climbing at VE for a while might recognize, Beth Kleinke! Beth is a Forester now, but used to work at VE as a climb team coach, teaching all the curious kids how to climb. Beth has an awesome climbing origin story, and when she isn’t climbing she’s out hiking, biking, skiing, gardening or doing pretty much anything outdoors. Also, she’s spending a lot of energy right now growing a tiny human inside of her (possibly the next VertiGal?!)! She’s 5 months pregnant and is still climbing, still getting outside, and still being a pretty awesome human all around! Beth has a lot of knowledge and skills to share and is a great member of our community. VertiGal President and Co-Founder Molly Wick credits Beth for getting her climbing outside for the first time, so I think we all owe Beth a tiny debt of gratitude for her part in the series of events that led to the creation of VertiGals!
When and where did you originally start climbing?
I started climbing outside first, and didn’t climb in a gym for probably the first two years. I was walking near the silver creek tunnels when I ran into ‘North Shore Bob’ as some people might know him. He was looking for a partner and let me give it a try. After that we started meeting up on the weekends to climb at silver creek or shovel point. He’s been climbing the north shore for decades and taught me lots about setting anchors and where all the routes were. He told me once ‘look for the climber with new ropes but old metal’ which is good advice. It was nice to find an older climber who knew lots, but was happy to take it slow and stick to easier stuff. It was weird to transition into the gym. I still don’t like chalk.
What do you love about climbing/what does climbing mean to you?
I like how climbing feels very meditative, it’s a good stress relief. You use your whole body and mind. It makes you focus on what you are doing in the moment, not thinking about whatever else might be going on in life. I also really like the community and the energy around it. I coached at VE for a while, and it was always really rewarding to see climbing click as a sport for kids that hadn’t found an activity they fit in before. Everyone is very encouraging, and while it can be somewhat competitive, it’s really just you and the wall, and whatever you want to accomplish.
How has your pregnancy journey affected your climbing?
I’m currently just over 5 months pregnant*, and I am going to keep climbing as long as I can. The first few months I had terrible morning sickness that lasted all day, and I was out for a while, but it’s been good getting back. I want to keep moving, keep up my strength and flexibility. I just switched to a full body harness, which has taken some getting used to. I’m not leading, and I’m trying to avoid doing anything where I could take a big or jarring fall. Overall I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. I’m really excited to one day take my own kid climbing and teach them so many skills!
*This interview was submitted a few weeks ago, so Beth is about 6 months pregnant now!
What made you join/ get involved with VertiGals?
It seemed like a good opportunity to get to know more of the climbing community, and to climb with more women. I tend to be shy and need an excuse to talk to people, especially now that I don’t work at the gym any more. I don’t get as many chances to get to know people. Women definitely have a different climbing style, and it’s nice to climb with people you can compare notes with and help each other. I introduced my husband to climbing, but he’s very tall and not flexible, we have very different problems.
What is something about your climbing history no one would ever guess?
I would love to get into tree climbing. In my work as a forester, I sometimes get to work with arborists, and they use a lot of the same gear rock climbers use. I’ve gotten to do a little, and it seems like a lot of fun. I always liked tree climbing as a kid, and it would be cool to come back to it with more knowledge.
Say hi to Beth the next time you see her climbing!
Don’t forget our next climb night on May 11th is both Family Night and Beginners Night from 6-7, followed by our regular climb night after that at 7pm! Check Fb or our climb night event page for more details!