Mackenzie Berg

When I was little, I felt it: deep down in my guts sat the bigness of this adventure we call adult life, but I was too little then to articulate it to anyone outside my head. So I’d lie in the grass, tickled by dandelion spores and insects and just look up, up, up. There was a weight, but I didn’t know what to think about it. Everything felt exquisite and vast and a little bit heavy all at the same time. But as I grew older I found, as we all do, that the beauty and lightness of being is, in fact, bearable and carries us through days and worlds we now only recall fully in fleeting moments when we’re stuck in the adult slog of jobs and responsibilities and the pursuit of money.

Except that the more I tried to fit in, the more I wasn’t satisfied with only feeling it in glimpses. I tried on many potential life trajectories, but when I found climbing, I discovered a vehicle to bring myself into that wondrous space regularly, with intention. It opened a door for me to enter the places I was always drawn to, in ways I’d never thought possible.

I found climbing in my mid-twenties, and while I cannot claim that it ‘saved’ my life, I can say that it altered the course indefinitely—so much that I ultimately chose a profession that would support a life built around what brings light and love into my world: the pursuit of adventure and discovery and intimate connections through shared experiences in the natural world. Thanks to the examples and encouragement of other women and men who have pursued unconventional lifestyles for similar reasons, I found the courage to make this vision a reality.  

I now work the night shift as an emergency-department nurse in Portland, and am committed to negotiating a balance that allows for maintaining relationships, travel, and creativity as much as it offers a sustainable means of serving those in need. I spend my ‘normal people hours’ climbing, trail running, writing (or procrastinating about writing), creating art, and encouraging radical conversations that challenge boundaries and open new spaces for dialogue. I am here because I believe fiercely in supporting women to push higher into the mountains—literal and figurative—seeking out new traverses and objectives that inspire us all to dream big and push the journey ever forward.