When we first met Lizzy at last month’s Iron Maiden bouldering competition (where she took second place just behind Angie Payne, BTW) we were impressed by her technique, strength, and the way she approached the day with the poise of a seasoned competitor. Well, it turns out that’s exactly what she is (and a lot more)! Born in Austin, Texas and currently working on her PhD in Vancouver, Lizzy’s recent participation in the comp circuit has been somewhat under the radar. “I competed with great regularity all through college and until I began my PhD program at the University of British Columbia,” she explained, “I balance climbing and my other life goals sometimes with difficulty but always with great enthusiasm and true grit…I’m not happy being exceptionally good at one thing only-I would rather be very good at a few of them!” When Lizzy isn’t climbing, she is out to sea (like, literally, on a sea vessel) for her research in oceanography and atmospheric sciences, traveling to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Northeast Pacific. Yet she somehow still manages to find time to climb 5.14, boulder V11 (and work V12, but we’ll get to that), and train for the upcoming World Cup Bouldering Series. So, if you haven’t heard of Lizzy yet, we have no doubt that you soon will. Read on to find out more about our smarty-pants, seasoned, and super strong girl crush of the month!
Lizzy, age 27, has been climbing since she was 8-years-old. In that time she has competed in tons of Climbing World Cups, as well as countless other comps, and placed 4th in ABS Nationals in 2012. In recent years she slowed down with competing: “I entered nationals this year although I was nursing my first finger injury, so that competition just left me hungry for more,” says Lizzy. She is planning to compete in the World Cup in Austria and Switzerland, and then compete in the GoPro Games in Vail. As if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, she shared “I have my sights set on some outdoor projects, probably the coolest of which is a boulder called Welcome to the Future. It’s an amazing compressions problem (V12) in Tahoe that I’m now obsessed with, but unfortunately for the moment we have a long distance relationship. I’d also like to do Black Magic in Squamish (V12) and Adato (5.14b).” Fortunately she’ll being moving back to the states in September, so she won’t need to be long-distance with her projects for long. When asked about her proudest achievements, it’s clear that while Lizzy is competitive, she has a penchant for outdoor climbing. “Perhaps my proudest climbing achievement,” she says, “was climbing the first “girlie” ascent of Dinosaur Highway at Horne Lake…it climbs tufas interspersed with fun, athletic cruxes up an immaculate limestone cave in Vancouver Island. I was able to do it in 10 tries and it is one of the most beautiful routes I have ever climbed. Previous 5.14’s I have climbed were bouldery and somewhat beta-intensive or condition dependent. This route was a test of fitness, plain and simple.”
So, what keeps her motivated to do it all? “I look up to women in climbing who have managed to balance their career aspirations with climbing at the highest level.” She names Caroline Sinno, owner (and developer) of Crimp Oil, and Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou as a couple of examples of her inspirations. “I’m trying to push the boundaries of what it means to have a climbing lifestyle,” she says, “I think it’s easy to assume that when your climbing plateaus it’s because you haven’t had enough time in the gym, or because you can’t quit your job and camp next to the boulder you’re obsessed with, but I’m trying to train in a way that allows me to push the boundaries of the sport as well as in my field as a scientist. I want younger climbers who are entering the circuit to know that they don’t have to choose between competitions and a career (or for that matter – between one more day in the gym instead of skiing when the powder is dumping-I am also an avid skier). There is a very real balance that’s possible!”
Well guess what Lizzy? We think you are totally nailing it. You are an all around badass, and you inspire us to continue to strive towards balance, not limit ourselves, and of course to train smart and climb hard.
Missy, Mary, and Cate
Photo Credits (in order): Ben Shear, Kelsey Noonan, Eric Wolff