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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

High Infatuation

Air Date: Week of November 2, 2007

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Steph Davis rock climbing. (Courtesy of Steph Davis)

Professional rock climber Steph Davis is passionate about rocks. She’s traveled the world in search of her next ascent, scaling mountain peaks from Patagonia to Pakistan. Living on Earth’s Ashley Ahearn produced an audio profile of Steph Davis.

Transcript

GELLERMAN: Steph Davis knows her way up a rock face. Climbing tooth and nail to the top of some of the world’s highest peaks is what she does for a living. Steph Davis is the first woman to climb 11,000-foot Fitz Roy Peak in Patagonia, and she’s done first ascents in Pakistan, Baffin Island in Canada, and Kyrgyzstan. Throughout her life, Davis has made sacrifices to pursue her passion for climbing. And she’s written about it in her book “High Infatuation - A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity.” We have this audio profile of professional climber Steph Davis.

[MUSIC: Dan Ross “Klimbim” from ‘Passion Session’ (Narada Records 1999)]

DAVIS: The first day I went climbing, everyone was like ‘oh, let’s take the cute girl climbing!’ And then boom! I go do this thing and I’m like ‘oh my God. This is my thing. I have to do this.’ And then, I just had to change everything.


Steph Davis alpine climbing. (Courtesy of Steph Davis)

I finished my Masters. I didn’t want to get a PhD. I decided it wasn’t for me. You know, I’d been accepted, I had a teaching assistantship offer—everything. And then I just thought ‘no, I’m not going to do this. I’m going to live in Estes Park, Colorado, wait tables, and climb.’

There are a lot of different kinds of climbing. And, of course I love rock climbing. It’s simple and pure and beautiful. But Alpine climbing has also really drawn me as well because—mostly because I just like to be there. I like to be in those places. That’s how you get into the mountains. And then things get way more intense as well, in an Alpine climbing situation. There’s a lot of endurance associated—like maybe 24-hour, 36-hour pushes, where you’re just going the whole time. It’s so elemental, you know. You’re sleeping on the wall or in the snow cave and your whole life is a very different thing. It’s much more simple and everything means a lot more.


Steph Davis rock climbing. (Courtesy of Steph Davis)

I think there’s this illusion that if I’m living too much in an urban, man-mad place, maybe I think ‘oh, I control everything!’ If I’m cold, I’ll just turn up the heat. Or if I want to get somewhere, I’ll just jump in the car. And so I think that I change it all or my fellow humans change it all—that we’re in charge. But that’s not true. I mean, for example, when you climb in Patagonia, it’s so stormy, you’re always. I mean, your life revolves around those storms. And so you can only do what those storms let you do. And so you know, deep inside, on the most fundamental level, I am one more little creature like that lizard, like the spider, trying to handle all the things that nature is giving us. That’s one thing that climbers just really know, because there’s no escaping it.

 

Links

Steph Davis' website

 

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