Girl Crush: An Interview with Kathy Karlo

Every so often, we’ll interview extraordinary girls doing extraordinary things: this is Girl Crush.  This week, we’re stoked to feature for the love of climbing author Kathy Karlo.

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Kathy Karlo is a rock climber based out of Brooklyn, NY. When she’s not on the road, she owns a Brooklyn and Boulder-based nanny agency. Between baking and loving’ on dogs, she’s desperately trying not to kill the last few living basil plants in her apartment.

Her love of rock and ice has been a life changing experience. She encourages anyone and everyone to try it! Her belief that climbing a rock is so much more than that…it’s a life journey that forever tests the limits of possibility.

Kathy is adopted from Korea, has a brown dog named Shooter, and a severely irrational fear of both zombies and dinosaurs.

If it isn’t ridiculous, then what’s the point?

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Gear Talk: An Interview with Totem Cams

As our inspiring community of badass climbing ladies continues to grow, we strive to bring best-in-class content.

Our inaugural edition of Gear Talk – girls talking gear and all things awesome – features Totem Cams, an innovative Cooperative Work company based in Basque Country, Spain.

What strikes us most about Totem Cams is not only the high quality gear (a patented, exclusively designed Direct Loading Camming Device system for all-around use and broader placement possibilities) they produce entirely in Hernani (Gipuzkoa), but also their overall vision and mission around community:

Our efforts are focused to improve the production processes and management systems to achieve what is demanded by the customer: good products, competitive price and on time delivery.

All this supported on core values that are very important for us: give priority to the climber’s interest, fair working relationships, democratic decisions, share the wealth with our neighbor, man/woman equality and be environmentally friendly.

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We spoke with Mikel Apezetxea of Totem Cams about their origin story, community-building vision, and the evolution of trad climbing.

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Bouldering Basics and Best Practices

Anytime we feel stuck or in a climbing rut, we love getting back to basics.  Our wardrobe is full of functional basics – white tees, blue jeans, black dress – and our arsenal of bouldering basics are just as key as building blocks to awesomeness.

Photo by Asha Agnish

Photo by Asha Agnish

Here are some bouldering basics and best practices to keep in mind for your next send:

  • Warm it up, stretch it out: Properly warming up before climbing maximizes your time on the rock/wall by increasing blood flow to the working muscles, which results in more limber joints and less risk of injury.

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5 Outdoor Essentials for Every Bouldering Babe

Summer solstice is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, and we love immersing ourselves in the great outdoors and all its sun-kissed and sweaty glory!


To celebrate summer, here are five outdoor essentials to keep in our beach/crag bag:

  • Honest SPF: There’s nothing sexier than sun-kissed glow of summer skin, but sunburn and skin cancer – not so much.  We recommend a natural, mineral-based, water resistant broad-spectrum UVA & UVB SPF 30 sunscreen like Honest sans funky chemicals, greasiness, and smells.
  • Natrapel 8 Hour Inspect Repellent: We had a lyme disease scare earlier this month after pulling two ticks out from a bouldering jaunt in nearby New Jersey’s Boonton Fields, and were kicking ourselves for not having taken all the precautions to prevent tick bites, including: staying away from high grassy areas, covering up legs and arms, and wearing insect repellent.

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Destination Climbing: Las Vegas

Half an hour away from the Las Vegas strip lies a desert paradise, strewn with fascinatingly beautiful and strange rock formations.

There are pockets of zen to be found all over Vegas – from the tranquil rooms of the Canyon Ranch Spa to Red Rock Canyon’s Black Corridor, where climbers crag to seek refuge from the scorching desert sun.

The rocks are reddish and time erodes them into the pinkish sand that covers the trails.

But perhaps the best kept secret of Vegas is Mount Charleston, a sanctuary located just 35 miles northwest of Sin City.


Welcome to Charleston!

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Getting Out of Your Head: How to Conquer Climbing Fears

Rock climbing isn’t exactly the most intuitive sport or hobby that one picks up. That’s probably because there’s a whole host of fears (falling, heights, exposure, and injury) we need to conquer first before most of us can even fathom climbing.


Our onsight of Sixish (5.6) variation in the Gunks yesterday – a short, steep, and sweet climb (with some headiness thrown in for good measure)

Or not.  I’m always inspired and impressed by people who haven’t yet conquered their fears and take up the sport anyway; this is badassery.

Part of what makes climbing so challenging (and addictive!) is how it constantly pushes our physical and psychological limits. In climbing,  we’re confronted with our insecurities,  frustrations, and ego. Up close and personal with the voices inside our head that tell us ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘what the heck are you thinking doing this?’

I call this our climbing head, and getting out of our head is key to conquering our climbing-related fears.

Easier said than done, right? Case in point, I returned to the Gunks (a popular trad climbing destination near NYC) after taking nearly 2 years off of trad climbing due to various injuries.  I hopped on a route well below my climbing ability, and even though I have all the technical skills, eight years’ worth of outdoor climbing experience,  and a full leader’s rack, my climbing head started to kick in, and hard.


Trad is rad.

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Climbing Across Continents

Some folks travel around the world; we prefer to climb it.


Seasoned rock climbers know all about the limestone cliffs of Krabi, Thailand, or the ’14 pitches, bitches’ of Portero Chico, Mexico. But oftentimes, it’s worth discovering new and beautiful places, full of phenomenal rock, ice, and snow to climb.

Here’s our list of world-class climbing all over the world, so read on and climb on!

Lukenya, Kenya: there’s nothing quite like camping and climbing in the African bush – waking up to a sunrise where you can almost see the faint shadow of Kilimanjaro lingering in the background, basking in the scorching equatorial sun as you route find and lead your way up V Diffs whilst battling the thorns and bushes of various vegetation. Located just 30 miles south of Nairobi, Lukenya is a Kenya climbing scene favorite – but you must join the Mountain Club of Kenya to gain access to climb there (do it, they are good peoples!)

Cat Ba, Vietnam: sport climbing and gorgeous limestone tuphers – ’nuff said. Make sure to check out Asia Outdoors, a solid guiding service who will certainly lead you in the right direction as far as bar, food, and routes beta are concerned.

Chiang Mai, Thailand: same, but different.  Superb sport climbing in a concentrated area that is lush and green and known as one of the ‘world’s greenest mega-crags’.  You won’t regret trekking out to this jungle to send, but don’t leave your bug spray in the hostel.


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Outdoor Climbing Etiquette by Kevin Liu

Climbing season is in full bloom all over the country, and we’re excited to kick off our first guest post with five helpful tips from evolv athlete Kevin Liu for taking care of the great outdoors when climbing outside:


Leave no trace

Bring a plastic bag for garbage. One of my biggest pet peeves that I see outdoors are those climbing tape balls – you know the ones that are the perfect mold to someone’s finger 🙂

Brush brush brush!

Brush the chalk off of whatever climb you were working on after you are done with it. The rain will come, and the chalk with run and stain the face. The chalk will also absorb moisture, which could result in mold building up on the hold and inevitably cause the rock to be slick. Leaving chalk up is like taping a climb outside, and no one likes a beta bomb.

Be aware of your surroundings

Don’t stray off of the trail, and respect the boulders in their natural habitat. Mother Nature is a lady of time and patience, and it has taken her a long time to grow what ever fungus might be on the back of that boulder.

Be mindful of where you go (to the bathroom)

Always try to pee closest to a tree, and furthest from moving water. As for #2, dig a hole – a generous one – do your business, and cover it up. (Pro tip: pack the dirt that you used to cover up the hole well; animals will get curious and eat it, and humans might roll their ankle in it).

-Enjoy the great outdoors!

‘Nuff said.

Kevin Liu | Your average rock climbing outdoor lover