Climber Story: Tori Brown

March 15, 2023 5 min read

Climber Story: Tori Brown - Dynamite Starfish

To start, tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Tori and I will soon be 32 years old. I work as a designer for medical products, and also run a small business (@torib_draws) doing commissioned art and freelance design work. My partner and I live in the city with 2 dogs and like to escape to New Hampshire to hike.

I am working on summiting all the NH 48 4,000 foot mountains (18/48) and have been rock climbing for almost 6 years now, more seriously within the last two years.

How did you start climbing?

I went through a bad break up and moved to Rhode Island. I didn’t know how to go about making new friends as an adult — something which has always been hard for me.

I had never rock climbed before, and I guy I was newly dating suggested I try it. I became hooked on the movement, the challenge, & the community. That relationship didn’t last, but my passion for climbing sure did!  

What impact has climbing had on your life?

It feels like it’s impacted everything!

Climbing became the perfect balance for me to do something meaningful alone AND with friends. I go to the rock gym and train, get strong, move my body, and build confidence while also meeting new people organically and bonding over a shared experience. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I’ve met some of the best people in my life.

Climbing has also really helped with my mental health. The sport demands a lot from your body and mind. Rebuilding that important connection and relearning to trust my body, realize I AM strong, and pushing myself to do things that might be scary has helped me grow into the best version of myself.

What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?

Creating. Whether it’s artwork, crafts, recipes, or gardening, if I can use my hands to combine pieces and parts to create a final product, I want to do that.

One way I show love is cooking for people, so I tend to share recipes and make food for people I care about.

Also, hiking! When I started dating my partner, who is an experienced hiker, I started taking hiking more seriously. The hikes we do together push me to my physical and emotional limits but fall in line with my recently discovered passion for type 2 fun. Also, sometimes the approach to the crag is a hike! 

If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?

Do not carry the mountain, climb over it.

Favorite thing about Dynamite Starfish?

The creativity and light-heartedness! The climbing world is filled with so many creative and entrepreneurial spirits. I’ve loved watching Leslie’s business grow, and her graphics are always conversation starters. 

Is there something you're working on that you'd like to tell our community about? We love a good story.

The connection of strength and confidence, and rebuilding that confidence after injury. What I am classifying as an injury set me WAY back in my climbing. I had my gallbladder removed at the beginning of 2020, and I went from a confident V4-V6 climber to basically starting over at V1s and V2s post-op.

It affected me physically way more than what the doctor’s prepared me for. I lost pretty much all of my core strength, gained weight, and lost self esteem. My core was so weak that if I cut feet, I was unable to lift my legs back up to get my feet on the wall. I second guessed my skills, started being afraid of certain moves and became too scared to climb outdoors. My head game suffered dramatically.

I became frustrated that I wasn’t making progress in my climbing, and wondered if I was even a climber anymore. I didn’t know how to fix this. It was then that I decided to do something I had never done before: I hired a coach. I was nervous to describe what felt like personal failure to a complete stranger, but I knew I had to make a change. I explained my struggles, and he gladly took me on as a client.

Two years ago post-op, I went from not being able to do a push up, pull up, or climb above V3. My initial focus working with my coach was to rebuild my basic functional strength, strengthening my core, and implementing climbing specific training using a mix of weight lifting, calisthenics, and mobility exercises. We also drilled falls on lead, bouldering challenges, and worked through difficult beta during hour long sessions. After two years of rigorous training, I can do 15+ regular push ups, lock-off pull ups, and my gym project grade has gone up to V5, and I can lead climb 5.10+!

Now, I am focusing on climbing endurance, power, and dynamic movement while also sticking to a lighter strength training schedule that still uses calisthenics and weights. I’m working on my progression towards my front lever, tuck planche, and other what I like to call “spicy” movements. I’m also looking forward to climbing more outdoors!

Going through this journey of strength and movement directly impacted my confidence, self-esteem, and head-game as a climber. I’m less concerned about how my body looks and more concerned with how it moves me. Thankfully, my gym had a trainer and coach on staff, and having access to him has made the biggest difference in my journey as a climber. With his guidance, I became a little stronger, and I got more a bit more confident in my abilities. That increase in confidence let me push myself to build more strength, and so on.

The mind-body connection is something that I feel like any athlete, whether they are climbers or soccer players, don’t realize is deeply important until they experience a physical set back or an injury. If you are in the thick of that now, whether it’s an injury, illness, surgery, or pregnancy, don’t be afraid to reach out for help or guidance.

You can find Tori on Instagram at @artistthateats and visit her small business IG at @torib_draws.

Want to get to know more of the climbers in the amazing Dynamite Starfish community? Check out our archive of Climber Stories here.

We hope you have enjoyed these sneak peeks into climbers' lives. We're on a mission to share diverse stories about rock climbing. Let's push the boundaries of who we know as climbers. Let's use our energy and passion for the outdoors to love our environment and inspire one another.

Have someone you think we should feature? Send us a message and let us know!

Until next time!

Dynamite Starfish
Dynamite Starfish

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