Monday, March 28, 2011

Adventure Inspired Interview

After a recent post about the Best Outdoor Blogs & Sites for Women I discovered that many of you are interested in finding and reading other great blogs by women. Well I've got one for you! Adventure Inspired blog features killer hikes, climbs, and treks by one kick ass chicka- Katie Levy.

I checked in with her a little over a month ago about favorite hikes, outdoor gears and super powers. I love that her blog is about the everyday athlete/ adventurer. Do drop by (also @k8tlevy) and tell her you read about her here!

Tell us a little about your blog/site…

I've always enjoyed writing and love sharing my adventures and passion for playing outside with other people. There are so many outdoor athletes doing so many incredible things and writing about them, but I think it's important for us normal people to share our stories. We're not doing first ascents in Patagonia, but we are tackling things that are difficult and exciting! Adventure-Inspired is like a refuge for me - a place I can go to just be myself, like I can outside. I want to inspire other people like to test their limits outdoors and help build awareness of outdoor activities.

How long have you been climbing? How did you first get started in climbing?

I grew up in Ithaca, NY, one of the most perfect places to play outside, and took full advantage when I was younger! I've been goofing around outside for as long as I can remember, but didn't pick up climbing until my senior year of college. I'd been a competitive swimmer for 13 years, but found myself falling out of love with it. I needed a new challenge; a different challenge. My boyfriend took me to the Lindseth climbing wall at Cornell University and I was immediately hooked. I signed up for a four week women's climbing program with the Cornell Outdoor Education program. The instructors were inspiring; watching them move on the wall was like a dance I'd never seen before, and never knew existed. The fact that we got to rappel off the top of the football stadium didn't hurt either! I didn't start climbing seriously until three years ago and climbed outside for the first time in 2008.

Is blogging a part time hobby or full time job?

Blogging is a hobby and a creative outlet, but sometimes it feels like a full time job! Writing and keeping content coming is time consuming, but I absolutely love it. I've learned so much about building a website, more than I ever wanted to know, and I still have a lot left to learn. I'd like to say I do it all in the name of my audience, but it's a selfish pursuit too! It's therapeutic and fun to reflect on my adventures, interview people who inspire me, and write about my favorite gear. But it sure would be a cool full time job, and I admire people who've been able to make it theirs!

What has been your favorite climbing/mountaineering trip to date?

Without a doubt, the Summit for Someone Mount Rainier Women's Climb I did to raise money for Big City Mountaineers last summer has been the most influential. Though it might sound cliche, it really changed me. I never in my wildest dreams would've pictured myself doing something like that. Me, the girl who's afraid of heights and doubts herself all the time!

Figuring out how to raise $5,000 forced me to be creative, to call on people for help, and to find a way to tell them how important the organization is. I was overwhelmed by how my network of colleagues, friends and family rallied around me. I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

On the climb, I found myself surrounded by nine other inspiring women. Thinking of each of them, how special they all are and how we worked as a team up there is the quickest way to produce a smile on my face! The climb was the most mentally challenging experience I've had, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Everyone should do a Summit for Someone climb!

How often are you able to climb on a weekly basis?

I never seem to be able to do either as often as I like! There are some fantastic climbing gyms in the Philadelphia area and when I'm super motivated, I'll climb indoors 2-3 times each week. I try to get outdoors once a week or so to local crags when the weather's warm, maybe a big trip or two. I'm a volunteer organizer for TerraMar Adventures, and love getting out with the group on local hikes. My goal is to get out on the trails at least two weekends each month this spring and summer, and get in some extended backpacking trips in the Catskills and Adirondacks.

Speaking from experience, it’s hard to balance work demands and the day to day demands of life with getting outside and doing the things we love. How do you manage to prioritize or find balance between what you HAVE to do with what you WANT to do?

It's always challenging to manage work and play, even though I don't have a mortgage or kids to worry about. I've been fortunate with my career thus far; I've had supervisors who understand that I need climbing and playing outside to function. That's key, and I'm incredibly lucky. Work travels even occasionally take me to places I'd dreamed of visiting in my spare time, like the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. I have to make decisions about long trips in advance and they don't always work out, but such is life!

Getting time off can be a challenge of course, but I've found choosing between my favorite activities can be more challenging! On a climbing trip to Joshua Tree National Park (#jtreetweetup) two years ago, I found myself excited to climb, but wanting to hike around the park as well. I went to Boulder, Colorado last summer for a set of Rainier training hikes at altitude and had to force myself to leave my climbing gear at home! Right now, I'm content with being a Jill of All Trades and a master of none, as the saying goes.

Do you have any advice for women that want to start climbing/hiking and don’t know where to start?

Sometimes, finding classes to take or groups to go out with is the easy part - doing it is another story! The best piece of advice I have is not to be intimidated, just to get out there and go for it. Read stories about other women who inspire you by trying new things. Find your motivation for wanting to start playing outside more, and use it to get you going. See if you can find a friend willing to take you out with them. I've learned so much from friends and am grateful for the patient people in my life! Take advantage of the fact that some outdoor sports, especially climbing, foster a tight knit community of like-minded people.

For hiking, websites like can be a great resource. Outdoor companies like REI offer affordable beginner courses, too. To start climbing, find a local gym or guiding company that offers beginner courses. Philly has a meetup group dedicated to climbing, and that's helped me meet other folks in the area to climb with. There are a bunch of women's programs out there, and I was more comfortable starting in one for climbing.

What is your favorite piece of outdoor gear and why?

I still have my first backpacking pack - a bright red North Face Badlands 60L pack - and I've grown emotionally attached to it. But that's not entirely why it's my favorite piece of gear! I adore gear that can stand the test of time and everything I put it through. Though the Badlands 60 isn't made of fancy ripstop waterproof material, I've pushed it to the limit on Rainier, in the Adirondacks, in the Catskills, in Alaska, and in the cargo holds of countless airplanes for the past seven years. And it just fits me, which makes it priceless. My Petzl Elia climbing helmet comes in at a close second.

Just for fun---
If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

My first reaction was to say I'd like the power to be fearless, but fear is an important thing to experience. It's a survival mechanism, and it's there for a reason. I think I'd love the power to stop time. I could halt the world and climb until I'm exhausted, take a super long nap, then start everything back up again!

In three words describe why you love climbing

Tests my strength (both in the physical and mental sense!).

Favorite person to climb with?

My climbing partner and significant other, Dan, is my favorite person to top rope and sport climb with. He's patient, understanding, and knows exactly what to say and not to say! We've learned how to communicate on the wall after climbing together for years, and that part is absolutely key.

When it comes to bouldering, I'm inspired by a badass group of ladies I hang around with at my home climbing gym. They're all great women to be around, so supportive, and so talented. Sometimes, you just need to climb with the girls!

Thanks so much for your interview Katie!! It was great getting to chat with a fellow North Easterner!

If you enjoyed reading today's interview with Katie from Adventure Inspired drop her a line at her blog or @k8tlevy.