Episode 197: Katie Brown – The Invisible Girl.

On Episode 197 of the Enormocast, I sit down with former champion comp climber, Katie Brown. Katie Brown inhabited a place in competition climbing in the 90s when the kids took over the sport. Her cohort, the likes of Chris Sharma, Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, were the first wave of young competitors to put the adults on notice that the comps were about to change drastically. Katie was also a visionary onsight climber bagging an a vue ascent of Omaha Beach in the Red (.14a, then .13d just after Katie sent, now .14a again) and Hydrophobia in Montsant, Catalunya (.14a, then downgraded to .13d, now .14a again). But the untold story of Katie’s comp years is the family strife and eating disorders and confusion that plagued her short, meteoric career. Now a mom, wife, and just finding climbing again, Katie is ready to reveal her trauma in the hopes that the current generation of comp climbers can learn from her difficult path.

And ancient interview with Katie Brown.

Katie and Lynn Hill on the Leaning Tower.

Katie and Alex Honnold in the infamous Citi-bank commercial.

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9 Replies to “Episode 197: Katie Brown – The Invisible Girl.”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story!
    I can relate on so many levels. I also struggled with an eating disorder for many years. I was down to 90lbs with 6% body fat at one point in my 20s. It wasn’t until I fell in love with the mountains and doing mountain sports that I was able to overcome the ED. I, like you, was saved by outdoor physical activity as I knew I needed to eat to be strong enough to do them.
    I am now 30, and 5 years recovered and 50lbs heavier. I am the strongest/fittest I have ever been and am able to enjoy so many sports, including climbing.
    Funnily enough I was also a devoted Christian for most of my life, and went to Bible college as well. Hearing you talk about how you transitioned to a broader belief is like hearing my own thoughts. My perspective on religion and Christianity has evolved and I would also consider myself agnostic now.
    Although I wasn’t a professional climber, your story mimics my own. I can truly emphasize with what you struggled with and can understand the deep dark emotions that went along with it.
    You got upset when you talked about being worried that you may have led girls to eating disorders by being at the face of climbing and a model…. But your story of overcoming it is way more powerful and will help way more people. It’s easy to get an eating disorder, but it’s hard to overcome it and I think your story and book is going to be able to help a lot of people. Thank you for writing it and sharing it.

  2. Absolutely incredible story, my heart goes out to Katie. As a former born again Christian I sympathize with Katie’s struggles but can’t imagine the magnitude. I’ve always wondered what happened to Katie and it is so good to hear this podcast, both tears and laughter. Thank you Chris, and thank YOU Katie, can’t wait to read the book!

  3. Super moving interview. It’s fascinating hearing your story. Fun fact, I just sent Katie Brown (my 2nd .12 ever!) at Lizzard wall. Now I feel like I understand the person behind the name a lot better. I appreciate your willingness to share your story!

  4. I was really moved by this interview. Thank you.
    I remember a story that circulated many years ago about a young, local chubby girl in KY saying to her mom upon seeing Katie Brown, “Momma, look at that poor girl, she can’t even fill out her clothes!” We thought it funny (and sad) that this poor local girl didn’t appreciate the benefits of being thin. Little did we know that Ms. Brown was at the far end of the thin spectrum and was sad herself. Thank goodness she’s healthier now. I’m looking forward to getting her book. (Maybe you could follow up and let us know when it’s available).

    1. Yeah. Another good lesson that you never really know what folks are going through so best to just be kind all the time. We laughed in the interview about Katie just disappearing from Cochamo on our trip. But rest assured, I was pissed at the time. But as I understood Katie more and more, I couldn’t hold any grudge about that. She was struggling well into her 30s with who she was as a climber.

  5. Great interview. I’m glad to hear that she has a book coming out, she has an interesting story and completely unique perspective into climbing. I also found her to be real in a way that is uncommon in so many ‘stars’. But the best part was to hear the joyful laugh at the end. Thanks.

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