I think a lot of people try to put on this face in the outdoor industry… that you have to be this perfect figure, this perfect athlete, always be psyched, always be happy…and that’s not realistic…and so to portray yourself as always psyched and always motivated-I don’t think that’s helpful for the community. So I’d rather portray a more realistic version of myself that people can actually relate to. It’s more fun for me, because I get to be myself. -Paige Claassen In episode 3, Hadley is joined by climber Paige Claassen. Paige is not only one of the world’s best climbers, scaling routes at the 5.14 level, but she is also incredibly well spoken and has a refreshingly balanced outlook on the outdoor industry and her life.
Thank you for listening!
As a young child, I was not skilled in many activities. I sank in the swimming pool, lacked the coordination needed for basketball, and my saxophone harmony left my audience cringing. At the age of nine, my parents took me to the climbing gym in my new home of Estes Park, Colorado. In that moment, I found my place. Climbing, the sport for misfits, had accepted me with open arms.
I began competing almost immediately and quickly discovered I performed well under pressure. Over the next ten years, I spent my spare time training in the gym and my weekends traveling around the country for national level competitions. Summers offered a chance to compete internationally. With the support of my family, I traveled to China, Austria, France, and Spain for both youth and adult World Championships.
By the age of 19, I felt worn down from competing and chose to refocus my efforts on difficult routes outside. Between studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder, I climbed throughout the country, making the first female ascents of routes such as Grand Ole Opry (5.14b/c) at the Monastery, Colorado and Motley Crux (5.14a) in Deep Creek, Washington. Climbing outside allows me to pursue personal challenges in beautiful environments with the people I love. Contrary to many climbers who simply love to climb, I’m picky. I select routes that demand my attention and efforts for extended periods of time, at quiet crags with close friends. I’ll always choose beautifully blank faces over steep powerful prows.
December 2012 marked the end of my undergraduate college career, when I graduated with a BA Degree in Marketing. With my newfound freedom, I designed ‘Lead Now’, a world climbing tour with production company Louder Than 11. Over nine months, we traveled to South Africa, Russia, Italy, Japan, China, India, Turkey, Ecuador, and Chile, creating videos based on my climbing objectives to generate attention for non profit initiatives that support women and children. In total, I climbed two 5.14bs, five 5.14as, and 2 first ascents graded 5.14a and 5.13d.
Today, I’m most interested in testing myself on historic sport routes around the world, my favorite ascent thus far being Just Do It (5.14c) in Smith Rock, Oregon. As I continue to grow and expand within the sport, traditional climbing has eeked its way onto my goal list. 2015 began with one of my first serious trad leads – Triple Jeopardy (5.13c) on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.
I travel. I climb. I won a spelling bee in middle school. I enjoy vacuuming, although I prefer baking chocolate cakes. I strongly dislike olives. And I’m very thankful to my parents for introducing me to climbing so I didn’t have to spend my life on the sidelines.