By McKenzi Taylor
I learned what rock climbing was while I was in college and a good friend of mine was dating a climber (Allison, she’s a contributor). She would talk about the lifestyle they had, the adventures they went on together and the mystery that made climbing a thrill. While I was doing some work in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I went on a few little climbing adventures with her and her son Eden. At that point, I honestly knew I wanted to pursue climbing but didn’t really know how.
Fast forward about 5 years…
After graduating from college, I took a leap and moved to Southern California. Every one dreams of moving there, but I decided it would be awesome if I made it a reality. I moved from my small home in central South Dakota to the “big city”. It was there that I finally got more into rock climbing via Matthew, my significant other. I will spare the romantic details of our courtship, but he honestly had me when I knew he was a climber! 😉 I wanted so badly to pursue the sport of climbing, but like many people probably experience, I didn’t have the equipment, the friends, or the courage to do it on my own.
After dating for a few months and hearing him go on and on about his adventures, I knew I wanted to get out… I knew I had to see what this was all about. My first multi pitch “climb” was in the Sierra Nevada’s and it was Mt. Emerson. Yes, now I realize it’s not even a technical climb, but it was totally epic for me. We got off route a few times, I had to learn how to take out gear, and I seriously thought I was going to get eaten by a bear once the sun set… And the sun was set for about 7 hours before we finally made it back to the car (12+ hours is not a normal day for Emerson). What honestly ended up happening was, I freaked out. We were so so so close to the top and we could have had a nice easy descent but I froze.
What ended up being a nice DAY out in the Sierras turned into many many hours of finding our way down the wrong gully in the dark. It was epic and I was in love.
Long story short we made it back to the car by about 1am. I was starving but all I could do was fall asleep.
In the morning, I was thinking “did we just do that” and I thought about it over and over in my head as we drove home.
The strangest feeling came over me the next morning at work, however. I even had to call my friend Allison and describe it… I was sitting at my desk and I was like “what the shit am I doing here”. No one here can possibly image the adventure I had this weekend and even if I try to explain it, they will never understand. They will look at me as if I had fallen off the deep end. The work day was sooooo long. All I could think about is how amazing and free I felt (and a bit scared, not gonna lie). It was the moment at work that changed me. I knew from then on, I would never be the same. It seems dramatic, but I knew that I would continually crave these adventures, big or small.
That was 2+ years ago and I have tried to explore climbing as much as I can. I have my ups and downs with climbing but I always come back to it. I enjoy it. If for nothing else, I enjoy where climbing takes me. I enjoy who climbing has introduced me too… Sometimes, that’s what keeps me going. Sometimes I feel weak, heavy or like i’m not improving quick enough, but I know there is so much more to rock climbing than just the sport of it. It’s a community, it’s provides awesome travel destinations and it also provides awesome adventure.
What’s your story? What’s your first climb? Your first taste of climbing adventure?
McKenzi Taylor founded Rock Climbing Women in 2013 after moving to a new city as a new climber seeking more climbing partners (and new friends!). Since her first taste of climbing in Spearfish Canyon, SD, McKenzi has been at the rock face seeking and sharing the thrill of climbing. She credits the support of a consistent climbing partner and community as the motivation to continue developing her skill, whether it’s trad, sport climbing or bouldering. A full-time business owner and mother, McKenzi’s on a mission to get her kids outside and learning to adventure alongside her.