1. How did you decide on the theme of Movement and Mobility? How will this theme be explored during your retreat?
I teach a couple of clinics each year which usually focus on introducing people how to crack climb and place traditional gear. With this clinic being held in Kalymnos, it lends itself to being more about moving on the rock as the routes are bolted and range in angle from slabs to the steeps. With the variety in angle also comes a variety in technique’s employed to move up these rocks and it just seemed natural to make that the focus.
During the retreat we will visit various crags and test ourselves on the styles available to us; each day we climb will be focused on learning movement techniques and how to rest along the way; demonstrating and employing things like drop knees, knee bars, chicken wings, hanging on the rams rather than pulling in to rest, slab skills, dynamic movements, stemming, etc.
2. How did you find your way to climbing? When did you know it was more than just a hobby?
The summer I was 15 I worked at a camp in North Carolina as a Junior Counselor. This meant I worked in exchange for room and board and also had to pick an activity to help the counselors in my bunk with. On the tour of the campus I had seen a wooden climbing wall set back in the woods and watched in wonder as kids scrambled up this 35 ft wall on top ropes. It seemed amazing. I inquired a little about it, learning that they also took climbing trips outside to real rocks as well as backpacking. That summer I learned how to climb and I was pretty much sold on it then and there. I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.
3. What is one thing people don’t realize about being a rock climber?
That we aren’t that extreme and that we aren’t out here risking our lives every day. While “inherently” dangerous, it’s pretty darn safe, especially if you follow all protocol carefully and thoughtfully.
4. Who has been your greatest influence and why?
I’ve had a lot of influences through my 21 years of climbing but two people stand out the most. Ron Kauk, a legendary climber from Yosemite, has been a long-time partner and mentor of mine. Helping me with footwork, technique, and a mindful approach to climbing. He’s shared with me through his own 45 years of climbing how to use climbing as a practice like martial arts, that what we are seeking to do is master our own selves. The other is without a doubt my husband, Ben Ditto. He is a phenomenal climber and someone who has taught me so much as far as systems for big wall climbing, how to train better, how to work hard regardless of outcome and to always keep in mind that overall we do it for the love of climbing.
5. You often teach climbing clinics in the Sierra Nevadas. What have you learned from teaching climbing to others? How do you think learning to climb can change someone’s life?
I value the experiences of teaching others to climb because I inevitably learn something from every clinic and lesson; wether it be about how to explain things better or better movement techniques, or just being more efficient and aware of what others need. Generally speaking, people just want to have fun and feel safe while learning some pointers and so it’s always good for me to remember that and that we aren’t necessarily preparing for Olympic competition all the time. Some of the most rewarding times have been working with individuals over a long period of time to reach their goals. I also really enjoy hearing other’s story about how they got into climbing or how they decided to take my clinics.
Learning to climb definitely changed my life and I know it has the potential to change others. I was your typical, disgruntled teen who was doing bad in school, was unhappy at home, and just felt aimless and rebellious. Climbing gave me purpose and as a result structure. It was my own passion and something I wanted to do well at, so I worked for it, any chance I could. I am still that way and as a result it has given me my husband, my mentors, my friends and my work. It also gave me a great respect and appreciation for our environment and made me more aware of our part in the natural world. It has essentially defined who I am and how I live my life and I am very fortunate for that. I feel that if given the opportunity, others can benefit just as much from climbing as I have.
6. What are some of your passions other than rock climbing? Will these be explored during your retreat at all?
I find a lot of value in health and wellbeing so, I’m really excited that we will be working with Alix Northup; she will be teaching a daily yoga class on this trip. I also work as a Nutritionist, providing Nutritional Therapy to clients in my home of Bishop, Ca and also remotely. I will absolutely be sharing my knowledge and experience on proper nutrition for climbing and day to day life during this clinic.
Learn more about Katie Lambert and her upcoming retreat: