I live in Moab, UT, surrounded by miles of open space.
I also sometimes live in a van, a tent, or an octagonal cabin at Indian Creek. I've supported myself solely as a sponsored climber since 1996. The companies I work with are good friends who share my ideas of what climbing and life are about and what really matters. I do my best to represent them, and they make it possible for me to climb, jump, travel and share it with others. Writing, photography and experimenting with vegan recipes are my other loves. (I've been vegan since 2003.) I started climbing when I was a freshman at the University of Maryland in 1991. I made it through a Master's degree in literature and one week of law school, and then I moved into my grandma's hand-me-down Oldsmobile, waitressing in Moab to save money for expeditions and climbing trips.
Climbing is my anchor and my passion.
It's as much a part of me as eating or walking. For me, living half tamed feels right. If I got to choose, I would be a bird. Or Mao. Mao is a small black cat who came in through the dog door one day and announced his name. Mao does what he wants and is entirely self-sufficient, though he expects a lot of attention. My little dog, Cajun, is an exuberantly happy creature, some kind of border collie/heeler/Australian shepherd/wild jackal mix who was dumped out by a cell tower on Navajo lands when she was tiny and survived for a while on cow manure. Cajun loves everything, especially running, playing and BALLS.
I started skydiving and base jumping 10 years ago.
This is how I met my husband Mario. Mario died on a wingsuit jump we were making together in the Italian Dolomites in 2013. I was lucky to have a short piece of life with someone who shared my path completely. a quest to learn, discover and experience with love, joy, curiosity and respect. We don't choose anything really, but we choose how we feel, and so we choose how we live. Learning how to go forward without Mario was the hardest thing I've done so far. But life continues to surprise me with beautiful gifts and with the joy I find all around me.
Climbing really is a metaphor for life in many ways.
You have to do what feels right, what lights you up. Do your best always. Conserve. Never waste anything. You can only have what you can carry: choose it carefully, make it last, take care of it. Appreciate what you have for as long as you have it. Be ready to do without it. No matter what happens, deal with it. Adapt, instantly when necessary. Take care of yourself. Try to help. A lot of times you fail, sometimes you succeed. Either way, you're never the whole reason for it.
It's easy to confuse intense emotion with fear.
Intensity is what you came for; don't irrationally try to run away from it. You never know what's going to happen, even in the next second. Every decision you've made was the best one you could have made at the time: remember that when bad things happen. Things will not stop changing. No matter what, the only thing you can count on is yourself.
That's because simplicity is freedom.
From climbing I understand the difference between essential and excess, and I have an abiding suspicion of luxury. Light is right, and the secret to wealth is living not within your means, but beneath them and liking it! Most of my essentials are luxuries in today's world and they can't be found in a store: quietness, cleanliness, open space, sunrises and sunsets and time to watch them, firewood. At the octabin, my second home, there's no water, no electricity, eight windows to watch sunrises from, and acres of dead pinyon pine I can walk around and chop up for the wood stove, which means I am rich :)
It's a beautiful world. Each day is a gift, actually each second is. Thank you for coming to share it with me.