I was stressed out at work, about to leave for a trip to The Red the next day, and I was trying to remember all the things I needed to pack. For someone who thrives on lists, the fact that I didn’t have a packing list was giving me a mental breakdown. Then, I got an email from Mia DePaolis, who was already in Kentucky. “Hi Lily! Today Tim was doing a climb that was pumpier than he thought, so we got stuck at the crag after the sun went down and he had to climb with a headlamp on!” Mia reminded me that all I REALLY needed was a rope, shoes, and harness, and that memorable adventures would happen whether or not I remembered to bring my Keen socks with the Left and Right foot labels sewn onto them. It’s hard to miss Mia’s spontaneity and love for adventure, so I was shocked when she told me that she has never been west of New York! This dedicated gym rat has only climbed outside twice, but right now is road tripping out to Portland, Oregon with some friends she met at her climbing gym and actually left her steady job to do so! Chica with cojones. Venga.
LH: Mia, who are these people you’re going with? How are you able to go on this trip, and where are you even going?
MD: I met Tim at a music festival, recognized him later at the gym, and we started climbing together regularly. He’s moving to Portland and I jokingly said “well, if you need someone for the ride, I’ll go!” He actually took me up on it. I’ve been unhappy with my job lately, so it was a perfect storm of events. My job agreed to let me take an extended leave of absence, so it didn’t come down to me putting in 2-weeks notice. The last hurdle was to accept that I wasn’t going to be making money for a while. The only place I know for sure we’re stopping at is The Red. I am completely okay with sitting, hanging out, and absorbing everything because I know that I won’t be able to physically climb what everyone else is doing.
“I mostly boulder – I love that I can do it myself, and have quick and instant success. I used to play soccer and you had to depend on everyone on the team in order to win. With bouldering, it’s less stressful to make a mistake, and everything is about bettering myself on this one attempt.” -Mia DePaolis
LH: I love that climbing is the “vehicle” for your first road trip. How did you start climbing?
MD: I started climbing with this kid Robbie and his dad when I was 10 years old. Robbie was killing it on an overhung lead climb at the Boston Rock Gym, and I decided I wanted to do that one day. Fast forward a decade, and I’m finally climbing regularly because Central Rock Watertown opened right next to my house! My near-term goal is to send 5.10. [Spoiler alert if you haven’t read the graphic above: Mia achieved her goal at her first stop at The Red!]
“I learned to lead 3 months ago, and was petrified to fall. I found that my first real fall was a lot less scary than my commanded fall during my lead test at the gym. I think it was because I had less time to think about it.”
Mia, you show us what it’s like to tackle adventure and how deep friendships are cultivated within the amazing community of climbers. I adore that you used climbing to go places – and applaud you for achieving your goal to send 5.10 and developing your secure lead head by the end of your trip! We love your rock roots!
Special thanks to Lily He for doing this new regular feature, interviewing all the inspiring “every day” climbers she can find. We love Lily’s enthusiasm for meeting other climbers and finding out their stories. Click here to see last month’s feature. Want to be interviewed for Rock Roots or know someone you think Lily should interview? Send us an email at cruxcrush(at)gmail(dot)com.
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Mia DePaolis