MAD Tour Reflections

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Lizzy (Scully) and I took this past month and went “East coasting.” Multiple agenda resulted in five slideshows/fundraisers, three family visits, one wedding, three climbing areas, and seven driving days. First of all, we want to thank all the gear sponsors for donating heaps of gear and the people who paid me to talk about rock climbing. The support made it possible to raise nearly $2700 for Girls Ed.

Fundraising and giving climbing presentations proved a well-suited duo, and I’m encouraged to continue this relationship. In the trip’s planning stages, Lizzy knew to counter my unspoken cynicism, stating, “You want to get better at speaking publicly and you can fundraise for Girls Ed at the same time. People will be psyched.” It wasn’t a hard sell to company sponsors. RAB clothing, Evolve shoes, Sierra Designs, Maxim Ropes, and Stonewear Designs all jumped on board with the tour.
The merging themes of the show challenged me and the audience to connect the dots, from the personal adventures and goals we have as climbers to the global importance of girls’ education. Before I showed off photos and films of myself high on a wall, free climbing in another beautiful place, Lizzy gave short presentations on the genesis of Girls Ed. She connected her climbing adventure in Pakistan to an unplanned stay in a small village where she and climbing partner, Heidi Wirtz, were motivated by the poor state of the girls school and thus formed an organization to do something to improve girls education in remote places of the world. The Girl Effect video was played at the end of Lizzy’s presentation. Each time I watched it I felt motivated to act and aware that I can contribute now to the voice of educated and empowered women.
I thank my experiences as a climber for this voice, and moreover the constant support and room for growth I have been given from friends and family. Beginning the tour with a show in Washington D.C. felt grounding, as my parents and many childhood friends showed up, and I felt a presence throughout my talking that I hadn’t anticipated. I dreaded the opposite, as so often I’ve felt disconnected in a public speaking, wondering whose words are coming out of my mouth. Instead I was pleased to enter my stories searching for a truth and being patient and comfortable with myself to tell a story to its end and share any humor or wit of the moment.

I started my multi-media show with stories of Black Canyon and then talked about the various first female team ascents I did with Kate Rutherford of big walls in Zion and Yosemite. I concluded the show with the Women At Work film that recorded a first free ascent I did with two other women on the remote big wall, Mt. Proboscis, in the Northwest Territories of Canada. These achievements laid groundwork for my understanding of how attainable these big wall objectives are. I tried to emphasize both the importance of an appropriate goal and strategy and role of inspiration in these successes.
A few audience members thanked me for the inspiration of merging a humanitarian effort with my personal adventures. Perhaps they will strive for the same lofty goals, and I thank them for helping make this one a success. The tight timeframe of the tour was an opportunity to refine my stories and remember what was audience member’s enjoyed and what I need to tighten or better articulate. Such as what is a ‘Princess Tactic’ really? Can I give some more specific detail on how to actually climb these big walls than just, “Try hard and strategize to minimize your suffering.” To this end, I look forward to more shows. Next up will be at Bent Gate Mountaineering in Golden, Colo., on Wednesday September 14.


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