We returned from Ten Sleep yesterday and are now in Boulder hanging with my parents before heading to Rifle/Carbondale for a wedding and then on to Salt Lake for the Trade Show and Psicocomp! I’ll write alot more about our roadtrip adventure in the future, but I actually wanted to take some time to write about someone else for a change….
Paige Claassen is one of my very best friends. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting her, you’d know what an awesome person she is. I’ve known Paige since we were little kids competing in youth comps, but I got to know her even better when we started competing in adult comps together. At Nationals in 2008, we both flashed the finals route and went to a superfinal, where I barely beat her by one hold. The same thing happened the next year, with me winning just barely by the skin of my teeth. I always look back on those two comps and think about how lucky I was. I’m pretty sure Paige was clearly the stronger climber in both instances (since she always crushed me while training in the gym) but my competition experience must have taken over when it really counted.
Reading the superfinal route together at Nationals in 2008
Paige and I in iso before the superfinal – I was soooooo nervous!
Paige is, in my honest opinion, one of the most talented climbers I know. She climbs effortlessly, always fluidly with a certain power and grace that always looks to me like she’s floating. The climbing world knows who Paige is through her many 5.14 ascents, but I feel that her ability as a climber is pretty under recognized. Although her ticklist doesn’t boast 5.14c – an increasingly common benchmark grade for the highest caliber of female climbers these days – her ascents are some of the most respected and stoutly graded in the US. She climbed Grand Ol’ Opry at the Monastery (CO) in 2010 – a Tommy Caldwell “14a” (now considered “only” 14b) that has seen fewer than 10 repeats and has spit off the likes of Dave Graham and Daniel Woods. She just recently sent To Bolt or Not to Be at Smith Rock, America’s very first 5.14 (“wow, I can’t believe it’s still rated 14a. It definitely feels harder than Necessary Evil” – Ethan Pringle). Now she’s in South Africa and has done one 5.14 first ascent (Digital Warfare) and repeated Sasha Digiulian’s Rolihlahla, which she gave a personal grade of 13d.
Digital Warfare (Jon Glassberg photo)
Rolihlahla (Jon Glassberg photo)
But it’s not her climbing abilities that make Paige such a rad person and friend. She’s been a massively supportive and inspirational figure in my life, always been there for me in a big way, when I needed it most. She’s an honest and genuine person, unafraid to be who she is.
Me, Paige, and Angie Payne
Paige and her boyfriend Jon Glassberg just left on a year-long journey around the world as part of a fundraising tour – The Lead Now tour – they organized to raise awareness for women and children around the globe who have been victims of abuse, hunger, oppression, or sexual exploitation. They’ve partnered with various organizations that support such causes in each country they’ll visit (12 in all, one in each month) and are hoping to raise $120,000 total ($10,000 for each organization). In addition, Paige and Jon are climbing in each country, documenting their adventure, volunteering for the organizations, and giving slideshows to the local climbing communities in the region.
Paige teaching kids to climb in Hillbrow, one of the more impoverished and crime-ridden neighboorhoods in Johannesburg (photo courtesy of the Lead Now facebook page)
I’m writing this post because I think what Paige is doing is awesome. It takes alot of determination and motivation to plan and execute a year-long trip around the world, add in the commitment to raise awareness and funds for 12 different organizations, all the while documenting the entire journey via photos and monthly “webisodes” and you’ve got yourself a mighty ambitious objective. Climbing is a rather selfish endeavor, but what Paige and Jon are doing adds that element of “giving back” that’s often missing on such journeys. If you want to support Paige and Jon’s goal, or just find out more, visit: http://www.crowdrise.com/LeadNowTour
GOOD LUCK PAIGE AND JON!!! I MISS YOU GUYS LOTS AND LOTS!!!!