On Episode 217 of the Enormocast, I connect after some internet trouble with the indomitable Michaela Kiersch. Michaela grew up a Chicago girl – loving baseball and the White Sox- but when she found the climbing gym, her baseball goals were supplanted. The climbing community embraced Michaela at just the right time as her mother’s long battle with cancer ended in her death when Michaela was just a girl. Michaela cites the embrace of her climbing community in Chicago as a major help in her grief. Michaela’s mother lived long enough to instill Michaela with ambition and drive that brought her to the top of competition and sport climbing with national championships and multiple 5.14c ascents. Those same traits are seeing her through a PhD program in occupational therapy. Truly someone who sees more to life than climbing, Michaela may just have the energy to have it all.
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.
On Episode 186 of the Enormocast, I sit down with comp climber, boulderer, and sport climber, Sean Bailey. Sean’s outdoor feats include an ascent of Biographie/Realization (5.15a) in Ceuse, France and Joe Mama (5.15a) at Oliana, Spain. His comp results have put him on top of Nationals in both bouldering and lead, not to mention a space early in his career on the USA youth team as, wait for it, a SPEED CLIMBER. Sean admits that there is a bit of a conflict between climbing outside and training for comps. Nevertheless, he does his best to unite his passion as a competitor and passion for outdoor climbing. We also discuss Sean’s reluctant but necessary participation in social media. A little bit punk rock, a little bit hip-hop, Sean Bailey may just be the vanguard of a new wave of young, serious, slightly disaffected climbers ready to crush the old’s expectations.