Interview written and compiled by Stephanie Hall
Alright friends, I know its been a few weeks, but I promise this weeks WCW is worth the wait! Introducing Taylor Jacobson, our newest Board Member, climber of 4 years, and all around great human! Taylor has been putting in some serious effort on Driving in Duluth up at Palisade Head this season, but when she’s not climbing she’s hiking with her adorable dog, Marni, making art and doing DIY projects, and learning new skills. She works as a Psychometrist and is also taking pre-requisits to enter an Occupational Therapy program. Beyond all of that her biggest passion is working with youth, stating, “My true passion is working with youth. I have volunteered with or worked with teens since I graduated high school. So many youth feel alone and are going through big things. Sometimes they just need someone to show up. I’ve showed up at band concerts and I’ve showed up in emergency rooms. I know what it has meant to me to have non-judgmental support in crisis and I’m passionate about being that person for others.” See what I mean about being an awesome human? We love the energy, enthusiasm and excitement to work that Taylor has brought to the board already, and we are excited for what the future has in store for us as a group! Alright, lets get to the good stuff!
When and where did you originally start climbing?
I was introduced to climbing 4 years ago by a youth I was mentoring at the time. She had just started climbing and took me to VE. I was totally pathetic and couldn't even make it up the lighthouse, but I’ve been hooked ever since. Now she is all grown up and we have both become better climbers. Whenever she is back in town we make sure to climb together. What do you love about climbing/what does climbing mean to you?
I love that climbing is both mentally and physically challenging. After finishing high school soccer and loosing motivation to continue intramural sports in college I spent a few years somewhat inactive. Then, like a lot people in their 20s, I was definitely in a pivotal time in my life. Bad choices and unfortunate circumstances left me struggling pretty heavily with my mental health. Climbing was the first activity that really challenged me to better myself again. It’s been a huge source of sanity for me ever since. The sit-still yoga/meditation version of mindfulness has always been difficult for me, but climbing gives my mind that same rest from anxiety and stressors and helps me focus on being in touch with the moment without having to force myself to sit still.
How are you hoping to grow as a climber or what skills are you hoping to develop?
This summer has felt like the first summer that I have had something to bring to table for
outdoor climbs. I am gaining understanding and comfort in setting up anchors. I am challenging myself to try more sport climbing. I think if I had to summarize all those things as one challenge for myself it would be to give myself more credit as a climber and not to limit myself because of uncertainties. I can get really wrapped up in my head when I am climbing and I will catch myself saying to myself over and over again ‘You’re going to fall, you’re going to fall.’ Obviously with an attitude like that, I fall. I can get myself into a rut pretty quickly that way, at the gym or outside.
So if any other VertiGals have any tips for overcoming the mental aspects of climbing, I could use some ideas.
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 was hiking at Palisade 3ish years ago. I hadn’t dreamt of climbing there because I was a new climber and I was very intimidated. But, I ran into some folks I had seen around the gym before and they invited me to climb Quetico (5.8-) with them. Nervous, but curious I ran to my car to get my harness and shoes. I got completely stuck. They had to lower another climber to give me advice and wait a painful 45 minutes as I unskillfully inched my way up the wall. So… needless to say I was completely embarrassed, and the story still comes up from time to time. But honestly, it was cool just to be invited to try. They knew I was a beginner and that I hadn’t climbed at Palisade before. No one rolled their eyes at me when I ended up taking a bunch of their time. I think that is one cool aspect of climbing is that we have all had those moments where we get shut down by a route. We all know what it’s like to fight our way through being a beginner in the sport. But many of us get so much joy from the sport that it can be just as fun to introduce others and help them to learn.
So far this summer I am projecting Driving in Duluth (5.11b) at Palisade. It’s motivating to see the progress I have made. I don’t think I would have gotten over my intimidation of Palisade as quickly if I hadn’t been invited that day so I am grateful for the jump-start I got from that climb.
What is something about your climbing history no one would ever guess?
A few years ago I broke my arm in half snowboarding. The only thing I could think about on the drive to the emergency room was the fact that I wouldn’t be able to climb. Well, after the surgery and some recovery I got sick of waiting around. I still wasn’t cleared to bear weight on my arm… but I figured I still had my other arm! I got to work as a one-armed climber and eventually was able to clean a few easy routes. I’d like to think I got better at dead-pointing because of all the one-armed practice but actually I think it negatively affected my climbing style. I had to retrain myself to work moves statically instead of the jumping around I got used to with only one arm.
Thanks to Taylor for taking the time to participate in this interview! We know it takes time and energy, and can take a lot to put yourself out there in this way, but we are so grateful to each WCW participant for giving us a glimpse into their lives and climbing journey. Do you know someone who we should feature?! Are YOU someone we should feature?? Let us know in the comments or send us a message! Remember this is open to all womxn-identifying, trans, or gender non-binary folx!