Kathy Karlo

Dancing Queen

Kathy is the tiny person with no volume control, who excitedly talks too fast, and is always seen with a cup of coffee in hand (minimum). She usually travels with a brown dog.

What are your three most prized accomplishments?

1. Aid soloing Touchstone Wall in Zion National Park in spring of 2017. It was the most intimidating thing I have done on a wall. When I first arrived at Zion I felt unsure if I could successfully make it to the top. It took so much blood, sweat, grit, and more blood. In two and a half days, I summited. 2. Starting my own blog three years ago is one of my proudest accomplishments. I have always wanted to be a writer, and in the past, it has been hard to not compare where you are at in your career with other people. I'm not well known or published often, but I write from the heart and that feels good. I don't write for editors or approval–I write for myself. 3. I am proud to be able to out eat any man that I know. Doughnuts, pizza, and sushi specifically.

What are your three favorite things to do?

1. Go rock climbing. Or ice climbing. Or any sort of thing that involves upward movement and allows me to push myself. I just love a good challenge–as long as it leaves me with a full body ache the next day. 2. Driving. I know that some people dread long car rides but there is something so appealing to me about an open road, a plethora of snacks, and bad music you can sing your heart out to. 3. Baking and then feeding people. I have always been under the impression that feeding people is the best way to love them–humans need food, shelter, love. I like to provide some of that in the form of pastries.

Where are your three favorite places to be?

1. The desert. My god, have you ever seen a desert sunset? I could happily be a desert rat for the rest of my life. 2. Hanging off some cliff–any cliff. It doesn't matter which one, as long as the view is spectacular. 3. I don't care where I am, as long as there is sunshine. I think it's because I am solar powered.

What is your greatest passion?

Climbing–I am forever in the pursuit of climbing higher.

What keeps your passion alive?

My need to push myself–both mentally and physically. There is always something we can improve upon–we, as humans, are never "done".

What is one thing that people don't know about you, but should?

I can't dance. Don't ask me to.

What is your wildest adventure?

In May of 2016, I was asked to go on a big wall expedition in São Tomé and Príncipe. Having no previous big wall experience, I obviously said yes. Have you ever big walled before? It's hard work. Have you ever big walled in a jungle? It's hard work and there are snakes.

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be?

Because climbing takes up 99.9 percent of my life, I would love to do something in a non-climbing capacity. I think my dream adventure would be to go deep sea diving and explore unknown caves, where I would eventually find treasure and befriend mermaids.

What is your personal definition of feminism?

Feminism is about women being empowered and being treated equally to men. It means that you believe in equality–that you fight the double standards, the misogyny that is ingrained in us at an early age, and you stand for equal opportunities. Feminism is about living the life you choose, being proud to be a woman, and being passionate about making the space around you a better place for all women.

What do you find valuable in being a woman in the adventure/outdoor industry?

As the "Outdoors" narrative has traditionally been one of male conquest, dominance, and assertion of masculinity, women have been excluded from it. What I find the most valuable in being a woman in the outdoor industry is that we are redefining that narrative by being both hard and soft–we bring both qualities to the table, and I think there is something rather beautiful to that. There was a time when women were looked upon in the outdoors as the weaker gender as if we were delicate flowers and needed tending to. But a whole new generation of women accomplishing great things has completely taken that image and thrown it out the window. And it isn’t because we’re strong and it isn’t because we aren’t scared, it’s because sometimes we are both strong and scared and we do the thing anyway.

Who is another woman who inspires you/your WCW (include an Instagram handle, if available)?

Katie Boué (@katieboue) inspires me on the daily because of her passion for being an advocate for the outdoors. She utilizes her social media platforms in such a beautiful, transformative, and unique way to connect with other outdoor enthusiasts and encourages them to get involved with causes they are passionate about.

In the coming years, where would you like to see women in sports/adventure/outdoors?

Acknowledging the existence of gender barriers means we have the power to go beyond them—that’s going to be badass for the history of women in the outdoors. I’d personally love to see the first all female ascent team of the Dawn Wall on the news in the next decade, maybe less. I want to see women pushing themselves and encouraging their comrades to do the same–because empowered women empower women.