Name, Age, From:
Meredith Trainor, 32, Seattle, Washington
Got started climbing:
In 2010, when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Before that I backpacked a lot, including a few solo trips, but when I got out here I quickly learned that if I wanted to go above snowline (and the snowline is present year-round!) I needed to work on developing my climbing skills. And like a lot of people, I learned to climb in part because I wanted to climb Mt Rainier and Mt Baker, both of which can be seen from Seattle.
Loves mountaineering because:
All the reasons! Mountaineering is high altitude meditation surrounded by all the kinds of people you like the most. Plus sunrises, sunsets, the views, sunshine on summits, high elevation whiteouts in which you imagine you’re seeing dancing goats – there’s so much to love, there! Because – sheer joy.
Least favorite part of mountaineering:
Packing, usually on a Friday night, before going on a climb. It’s so important, but I loathe packing. I’d rather do just about anything else, and will procrastinate as long as humanly possible to avoid doing it. I especially loathe figuring out what food to pack – most climbing food is super uninspiring. But really, I just loathe packing.
Favorite piece of gear:
I have a couple favorites. My Deuter backpack summons the same emotions I feel when I think of my childhood dog. I could snuggle it, I love that thing so much. My Outdoor Research gaiters – I love those too, although mostly because I think gaiters are pretty damn sexy. I’m aware this is not a widely held view, but really – gaiters are sexy.
If she had a Spirit Mountain it would be:
Washington’s Mount Baker. Big, bold, and cold. You know how Facebook has a relationship status setting to indicate your connection to someone? Well the status of my relationship with this mountain would read: “It’s complicated.”
What her friends would say about her climbing style, or who she is on the mountain:
I think they’d say two things – first, that I’m a goofball. I’m silly and corny and upbeat and I have a big laugh, and I’m also totally mushy and just – a goofball. And second – I think they’d say I’m a thoughtful climber, and a supportive one – I try to be the person that takes something heavy out of the backpack of someone who is struggling, or who stays with the person that is freaked out, or not ready for the summit attempt.That I’m an empathetic climber, I guess. Leigh Ann will say I’m tough and don’t complain about pain, but that’s just because she can’t hear my inner monologue. 🙂
How she’s getting in shape for this climb:
Working my ass off. I ran all through the fall to maintain my fitness (usually I let it swan-dive into wine-and-pasta-and-stew hibernation mode, pre-holidays), and then ran the Seattle Half Marathon (slowly) to prove it. I’ve also picked up Crossfit for cross-training at West Seattle’s Crossfit LOFT, and on my off days I’m doing yoga, jogging, and of course, twice weekly local conditioning hikes with weight. And that’s just what I’m doing as of December. I plan on being massively strong and fit by the time we leave! ::makes a muscle::
When she’s not climbing, she’s:
Doing so many things. I’m a planner, and tend to fill my time and calendar with lots of activities and little weekend trips. Knitting, cooking, drinking wine, listening to music, talking politics, veggie gardening or plotting for gatherings at my house would all make the list. Outdoors-wise I also love cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, rowing, yoga and biking, and wish I had more time for all of them!
First thing she wants to eat when she gets back to town after a climb:
EAT ALL THE THINGS! All the pescetarian things, anyway. French fries with a lot of salt. Pizza, if you can find a decent one on the west coast (they do exist). Very light or very dark beer. I love a post-climb beer on a hot, sunny day. Lately I’ve been big on grilled cheese with tomatoes and French fries – you can get a grilled cheese even in the po-dunkiest of climbing towns – although it may be cooked in burger grease…
Environmental (conservation) campaigner working on boreal forest conservation. On the weekends, I’m outdoors enjoying the natural environment, and the work that conservationists who came before me did to protect our wildest spaces. During the work week, I work on creating more of them. It’s a pretty sweet life I have here. 🙂
Thing she thinks she’ll miss the most while on the mountain:
This is a hard one. My boyfriend. Nights at home, cooking dinner with a glass of wine in hand and music playing. The radiant heat feature in our bathroom floors. I’m going to miss the radiant heat a lot…
Favorite thing about climbing with women:
Women are amazing climbers, and we climb so differently than men, on several different levels. I love feeling strong – it gets old trailing faster, stronger dudes up the mountains all the time – it’s nice sometimes to climb with others who have similar musculature, leg length, etc. Also, the collegiality – women kind of posse up into a supportive micro-community in a way that isn’t quite the same as what happens in mixed gender groups. My favorite thing about climbing with the women on this climb is how bad-ass and strong my lady climber friends are – we have a really strong, really competent, really skillful team. And I love that we are doing it 45 years after Arlene Blum and the first all-female team stood atop Denali, in 1970. That means a lot to me.
Thing she thinks will be the hardest about doing this climb:
This is a good question. I’m carefully choosing my gear to mitigate the cold, so that’s a consideration. But I think the hardest part will actually be the combination of leadership and interpersonal considerations. Any group of four smart, headstrong people is bound to encounter conflict, living together for three plus weeks in two tents. Managing those interests, needs and desires in a way that is proactive and productive and leaves people feeling good about our decision-making – I think that will be a big challenge on this little adventure of ours, and I think it is for most groups that do expedition climbing – whether or not they ever explicitly acknowledge it.
Next on her climbing list:
Aconcagua next winter. I’m planning on trying to climb my way through the Seven Summits, or at least the bigger, colder ones. My dream mountain is Mt Vinson, in Antarctica. So few people get to even go to Antarctica – imagine climbing there! It literally boggles the brain. And breaks the pocketbook. (Or would, if I had a pocketbook).
Favorite climbing quote:
I recently came across this one, from George Mallory, and like every single line of it (parenthetical insertion is my own):
“The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, “What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?” and my answer must at once be, “It is no use.” There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in (wo)man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”
Climbing or adventuring idol:
Alexandra David-Neel, who trekked solo into Tibet in the 1920’s, dressed as a Tibetan peasant woman. I think as we are coming up in the world we often imagine that women are just now getting into these types of adventure, trips, and sports, but in fact, we know that’s not true – women have been adventuring and climbing for about as long as men have, but history and those who took the time to record it traditionally overlooked and omitted the stories and contributions of these incredible early explorers and climbers.
When we look closely, though, we find women who have climbed, traveled, and otherwise gotten out there all throughout history – you just have to read between the lines. You know that quote about how Ginger Roberts did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in heels?
Well Marie Pardis, Fanny Bullock Workman, Annie S. Peck, and Isabella Byrd did many of the same things men of their time did, but often while wearing hoop skirts, corsets, and still being expected to cook everyone dinner at the end of the day! I mean – hoop skirts!
Our climbing foremothers were badass. Let’s not forget that.