2013 Year in Review

This was a good year. A really good year.

Definitely the best year I’ve ever had as a climber. If you’ve been following along, I know you must be thinking, “didn’t you spend a quarter of the year out and injured?” And the answer is, well, yes I did. But reflecting back on everything 2013 had to offer, I realize that I learned so much from those injuries – and I’m most certainly a better climber as a result of them. I’m not sure I ever want to repeat being injured like that ever again, but the lessons I took from those experiences have been extremely formative.

Photo Credit: Katelyn Dolan

Bouldering at Panther Beach, CA
Photo Credit: Katelyn Dolan

The year started out with a bang – I returned from a family vacation to Arizona (with no climbing) and jumped right back into things at Earth Treks. I filmed a short video, climbed on world cup-style boulder problems set by some of the top setters in the world, and got to watch some of my favorite pro climbers tear it up at the pro training camp. I also started training really hard and set some lofty goals for the year. Of course, I was also pretty stupid, didn’t take enough rest days, and ended up hurting myself at the end of January. After a month, I came back and started training again – then proceeded to tear the A2, 3, and 4 pulleys in my left ring finger after four weeks of hard work.

Opening boulder problem on a 5.12d at Earth Treks Rockville, set by Ward "Skilla" Byrum

Screencap from a video my friend Veronica Beman helped me put together.

I spent two months on the DL (aka the Disable List, for you non-baseball fans), but stayed connected to the climbing community through my work at Earth Treks, events in the local community, and as a Skratch Labs ambassador at several comps. It was a pretty awesome two months of no-climbing, especially getting to hang out with friends I would normally neglect (sorry guys, you know I love you!). When I was healthy enough to climb, I got on the wall for the first time in months with Sasha, pulled on huge jugs for a few weeks, and eventually got my finger to the point where I could boulder. It was a slow, often frustrating process, but the patient and cautious approach was well worth it.

Psyched to be climbing again after my injuries.

Somewhere in all of that, I got accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, to pursue my Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases & Immunity. In August, I said goodbye to the East Coast and headed West. It was tough leaving all of my friends and family in DC and Jersey, but life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I was definitely getting pretty far out of mine!

The West Coast has treated me and my climbing life oh so very well. I’ve gotten outside more in the few months I’ve been in California than I ever have before. Fall 2013 saw me take trips all over California. I stepped even further out of my comfort zone on some easy multi-pitch trad routes in the Valley. I returned to old projects and got humbled once again on the polished granite of the Camp 4 boulders. I explored local areas and relished the thrill of my first real high ball problems. I fell in love with the Eastern Sierras and the magical place that is Bishop.

Nearing the top of Mother Nature (V1 R), a high ball at the Nut Tree Boulders, CA. Photo Credit: Katelyn Dolan

Nearing the top of Mother Nature (V1 R), a high ball at the Nut Tree Boulders, CA.
Photo Credit: Katelyn Dolan

On High Plains Drifter (V7) in Bishop, CA, during an amazing Thanksgiving trip. Photo Credit: Maya Rosecrance

On High Plains Drifter (V7) in Bishop, CA, during an amazing Thanksgiving trip.
Photo Credit: Maya Rosecrance

While in California, I finally felt fully healed and absolutely loved getting a fresh start with my climbing – not worrying about training or campusing or hangboards , just climbing for the sake of moving and flowing. Being involved with Cal Climbing has been such an amazing experience, and I’m so thrilled to be part of this inspiring group of crushers. My passion for climbing and the climbing community was rekindled, something I never even realized had dulled in the first place. California has filled me with new life and spirit, and I’ve never felt so invigorated before.

A few members of Cal Climbing in the Valley. Photo credit: Maya Rosecrance

A few members of Cal Climbing in the Valley.
Photo Credit: Maya Rosecrance

There are so many other amazing memories from 2013. I traveled to Portland for the Portland Boulder Rally, my first trip and competition of that nature. I sent hard (to me) climbs in the Valley and Bishop. I did interviews with some of my favorite climbers. I taught countless introduction to climbing classes to excited beginners. I gave my first large-scale dynamic movement clinic and had one of the most amazing experiences ever in the gym. I spent so much time at Earth Treks and with the people who became a family to me.

Working the finals climbs after the competition ended. Found myself on the LT11 livefeed!

Working the finals climbs after Portland Boulder Rally. Found myself on the LT11 livefeed!

I also got the opportunity to represent Skratch Labs as an athlete ambassador. I can’t say enough good things about this company. They supported me through all the highs and the lows of the year, and I couldn’t be more thankful. It was nothing short of an honor to represent Skratch, and I thank them for all of their love and support. Thank for making me feel like part of the family! I wouldn’t have had the success I did in 2013 without them.

At Ring of Fire with Skratch Labs!

At Ring of Fire with Skratch Labs!
Photo Credit: Jennie Jariel

And, of course, thank YOU for following along with my journey. This was To Defy Gravity’s first full year, and overall, I’m pretty happy with the results. I know I slacked off pretty hard at times during the year, but I’m looking forward to keeping this thing going throughout 2014.

I truly appreciate every single person that visits this site, and without you, none of this would be possible. THANK YOU!

Moving into 2014, I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I have my first full year of California life ahead of me, and if Fall 2013 is any indication, there will be plenty of climbing to be done. I plan to be much smarter with my body this year, and as cliche as it sounds, one of my resolutions is to lead a healthier life going forward. Being a college student again makes this a bit difficult, but I look forward to the challenge. Here are some other resolutions, goals, and events for 2014.


  • Be healthier
  • Climb outside as much as possible
  • Focus more on the big picture
  • Get more involved with Cal Climbing
  • Compete in Open/Pro categories
  • Continue to be active on To Defy Gravity
  • Expand my involvement in the local community


  • Send 5.13
  • Send V10
  • Don’t come in last at SCS Nationals!
  • Make Open finals in a competition


  • Touchstone Climbing Series
  • SCS Open Nationals
  • CCS local competitions/Nationals
  • Ring of Fire Series
  • Dominion Riverrock
  • Portland Boulder Rally

All of this only touches the surface of how incredible 2013 has been. After thinking the year would be a total wash because of injuries, I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. This year was really special from start to finish, and the positives outweigh the negatives by leaps and bounds. I can’t wait to get at it in 2014, and I hope to cross paths with all of you out there in the gym, at the rocks, or around a fire sometime in the next 365 days.

Happy New Year to all of you out there! Let’s raise a toast to hard rock, thin air, and a rope. Stay stoked and climb on!


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