This is not a climbing podcast. Well, sorta. This is a podcast about choosing vulnerability and talking about our pain—and how we are all really just shining examples of this messy human existence.
22: The '59 Sound
Moonlight Buttress is one of the most classic test pieces for hard climbing in North America, and on March 9th, 2016, Eric was working on linking the crux moves with the hope of free climbing it later that year when he fell from the upper pitches to his death. Eric Klimt was an accomplished climber and a teacher. He was a lover of mathematics, a pilot, and deeply passionate about adventure—and he loved climbing because he loved the freedom of it.
This is just one part of Eric’s story, and we tell it through the lens of our friend, Hayley. This is also a story about the stereotypes of gender and emotional expression, the importance of self-love, and the trajectory of grief.
Hayley believes that everything happens for a reason, and even though it can be hard to see that when you’re in the middle of grief, the good stuff is there. Silver linings don’t always look so shiny when you’re stuck inside of a raincloud, but it never rains forever, the sun eventually comes back out, and we aren’t as alone as we think. This is just one part of Eric’s story, who played a huge part in Hayley’s life.
This episode is in dedication to the Klimt family and to Eric. Thank you for the larger-than-life adventures and for filling the world with and light in the short time that you were with us. “May your soul be free, and the view be breathtaking.”
21: Come As You Are
Body positivity isn’t about “fat” versus “skinny”, despite barrages of criticism from armchair philosophers who believe that this movement has further fueled an “obesity epidemic”. The body positivity movement IS about feeling comfortable in the skin you’re in now, at this very moment. Women are tenaciously shattering old and tired stereotypes by opening up about their relationships with food, showing off stretch marks, and embracing cellulite. And it’s not just a women’s issue, but where do men stand in this movement?
Lack of conversation about male body-inclusivity stems from a stigma where men learn from childhood that emotion and vulnerability equate to weakness. But the more we invite men to the table to have conversations about self-love and male body concept, the more the foundation of toxic masculinity will crumble and allow men to acknowledge their self-worth.
This movement is for every body—and you can come as you are.
Do you know the difference between shame and guilt? Because this episode is about that—and the link between addiction and shame. Addiction is a need-hate relationship. It can be a terrible secret, it can frame the very shape of your life. It’s the white noise behind many lives, and everyone’s experience with it is unique. For those who suffer from addiction, there’s a steep price to pay. Sarah learned what that price was.
And yes, I’m going to quote Brené Brown again: “Shame can’t be felt by those without a capacity for empathy. Those who feel shame have the power to control it.”
Empathy is the antidote to shame.
19: Light at the End of the Tunnel
Racism in science is real. Racism in academia is real. Racism in rock climbing is, yes, really real. Throughout America’s history, hallmarks of our democracy have been largely reserved for cis white people through intentional exclusion of BIPOC people. Connie and Kai Lightner call attention to the role of race and how racism in the outdoor industry, public and private institutions still disproportionately segregates and oppresses Black people in 2020.
In the midst of a revolution and pandemic, things have felt pretty bleak to a lot of people. Go get some vitamin D and your headphones, and listen to episode 19 with the Lightners who remind us of the importance of elevating diversity in our outdoors and the possibility of radical hope. The quote goes something like: “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the way out is through.”
18: Life Through a Sieve
Going through a traumatic experience is kind of like putting your life through a sieve. Certain things and people will inevitably fall away, but what’s leftover is what’s important and what stays. In 2009, Kareemah was diagnosed with cancer and underwent an amputation on her left leg below the knee. Three years later, she founded Adaptive Climbing Group. This episode is about strength in visibility and what happens when the narrative shifts from; “you don’t belong here” to “you belong here, you exist, and you matter”.
17: What We Know
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, there has been a lot of heavy discussion around the exorbitant amount of atrocities committed against people of color. This is what we know: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are victims of three separate crimes against black people and that they’re not the only ones. These cases have raised a lot of questions about racial profiling. Millions of people are affected by racial bias every day—but especially people from the black community. And it’s causing black people to ask allies to do better.
Where do we begin to unpack this? It’s really complicated and heavy and so deep-seated within our society, and even ourselves. Brandon Belcher and I sat down last November and this conversation that you’re about to lean into needs and deserves to be heard. Not just by the climbing community, but by the world at large. We still have a lot of work to do, and that work begins by listening to one another—especially to those who have the least power in society. Healing begins by listening to those voices and their stories. Also, Mikey Schaefer makes a quick cameo—how random is that!
This episode is in dedication to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and every single black life that deserves to be celebrated, today and all days. #blacklivesmatter