Hey Dynamite Starfish family! Hoping you all had a beautiful long weekend.
Today it is a huge honor to present this Climber Interview with climber, guide, and nutritionist Katie Lambert! Her story is a powerful one, and we were absolutely moved by reading the details. Links to her work and ways to find her are posted at the end of this interview.
photo: Ben Ditto
Q1: To start, a few ways you identify yourself... (some examples: name, age, pronouns, type of work you do...) But really, anything you believe is important.
A1: My name is Katie Lambert and I live and work in Bishop, CA. The way I make a living is cobbled together through various means. I’m very fortunate to work as a professional climber and guide. I also have my own nutrition business called High Sierra Nutritional Wellness. I do a bit of writing and I help run a nonprofit based out of Yosemite called Sacred Rok. I work as the Chief Operating Officer and nutritionist/cook there.
Q2: How did you start climbing?
A2: I’m originally from southeast Louisiana but moved to California in 2006 to pursue a life of climbing.
The summer I was 16 (1996) I attended a camp in North Carolina. I was too old to be a camper and too young to be a counselor so I attended as a Junior Counselor. This arrangement was a work exchange and in addition to helping with meals several times a week I had to choose an activity to help the counselors with. On a tour of the facilities I was shown the climbing wall. It was a wooden wall about 30-40 feet in height. There were top-ropes set up and kids climbing it. I’d never seen anything like this before and was immediately curious. I decided to help with the climbing and part of that in addition to being at the climbing wall belaying was that I was also able to participate in backpacking trips were we went climbing on real rock. I’d never even been camping before and this was so amazing to me. Before this I was what one would consider “a wayward teen.” I was unhappy at home, at school, didn’t really fit in anywhere and had been getting into a lot of trouble. That summer climbing is when I really found myself and what I wanted to do with my life.
photo: Ben Ditto
Q3: What impact has climbing had on your life?
A3: I’ve always said that climbing saved my life. That without it the chances that I would have been a drug-addicted, pregnant teen seemed high. And I’m really not kidding. Thats what things were looking like for me. But, climbing brought me into nature and taught me a lot about myself and my place in it. And it continues to be this incredibly grounding and centering force in my life. Its brought me most of my community, my husband, my work - it is the foundation for my whole life.
Q4: What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?
A4: My work with the nonprofit is very meaningful and important to me. We work with mostly “at-risk,” marginalized, underprivileged and incarcerated youth throughout California’s central valley and the Eastern Sierra. Our tag line is “Education Nature’s Way,” and we really believe that. By, being able to bring the youth out into nature to experience it for themselves through hiking, climbing, swimming, some service work and other outings we have been privy to profound change and inspiration in these kids. We’re not your typical outdoor ed program, we don’t have a hardcore curriculum we push on them. We’re primarily about understanding how to develop relationships with nature and with each other. This is probably the most important thing to understand that climbing has given me.