I grew up in the flatlands of the Central Valley of California in the shadow of my older brother. If I could have been anything, it would have been him. Perhaps this might explain my rather tomboy-ish appearance, from my short hair to my clothes. As I kid, I loved being active, and learned early on the importance of being outside, exploring, and moving. By the time I started climbing at the age of 14 at the local climbing gym, it was clear to me that I’d never be swinging a tennis racquet again. For the first time in my life, I found something that I not only loved, but was inherently good at. During my high-school years I traveled around the world competing. I met and became fast friends with a small community of climbers doing the same thing. Soon I was winning National Championships as a teenager, but something in me yearned for more adventure. And I would find that in Yosemite, the area that would become so integral to my life.
Shortly before graduating high school, I started climbing outdoors and in the mountains. While I still loved competition and the climbing community I met through competing, I felt most at home in the mountains. I only completed a semester of college before convincing my parents it was a good idea to take a semester off and go climbing. During that break from school, the stars aligned and I completed my hardest climb, met the legendary Lynn Hill, and went on my first expedition to Madagascar. I never returned to school, learning more from the people, places and climbing than I ever did in a classroom.
I have been fortunate enough to establish some of the hardest routes in the world ever by a woman. For many years, my life was defined through the simplicity of setting goals, working hard, and achieving them. During this time, I developed a deep love and appreciation for Yosemite, eventually making it my home. Despite dealing with a few years of injuries, I still found a way to get out and climb and enjoy my favorite place on earth almost every single day.
After nearly 20 years of pushing my body and the envelope of what was possible in climbing, my husband, Randy, and I decided to take the next big leap and start a family. We welcomed our little boy, Theo, into the world in the spring of 2014. Seeing this little person begin grow only reaffirmed my respect for the natural world, and emboldened my dedication to doing my part to preserve it for future generations. I spend as much time outside with Theo as I can, showing him the beauty and mystery of our mountains and world. Even if he never takes to climbing, I hope that all of his time spent outside will instill in him a sense of respect for nature. Motherhood has taken the values and respect for the natural world, which I first learned through climbing, and made them feel even more valuable and important. Now, I am able to see the world through an entirely new lens. Some days we go for a huge hike, and others we walk no more than 50 yards, soaking in every stick, leaf, ant and bug that we see.
When I’m not climbing or in the mountains with my family or friends, you can find me at the local farmers’ market buying good, quality food. Along with a passion for climbing and our environment, I have developed a deep love and respect for good, quality, sustainably grown food. I believe that along with living more simply, we need to nourish our bodies with real food—something that is becoming more scarce in current society. Some of my favorite times in life have been preparing and eating good food with family and friends.
After completing Meltdown (5.14c)—my hardest climb ever— I suffered several years of back-to-back injuries. While those injuries sidelined me from hard climbing, they helped me rediscover my love of climbing, no matter what level.
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