Monday, July 16, 2018

Inspired by Rocks: Fallon Rowe

Always reaching for something higher, Fallon is all about climbing. We have followed her on Instagram for over a year and watch as she continues to overcome challenges to climb, becoming an inspiration in the climbing world.

Fallon leading ‘Annunaki’ (5.11+) in Indian Creek, UT

Meet Fallon Rowe

Go-to outdoor activity:

Rainy day back-up plan:

Favorite snack:
Beanitos chips

Favorite piece of gear: 

Worst adventure advice you’ve heard: 
“You don’t need to bring a raincoat today.”

Something you won’t do or are afraid of: 

What you never travel without: 
EpiPens and Benadryl (I have lots of allergies)

Always on your road trip playlist:
The Black Keys, NWA, The Lumineers, Rage Against the Machine, Creedence Clearwater Revival

The Interview 

Fallon with Fitz Roy above in Patagonia, Argentina
Many people combine more than just one way to enjoy being outdoors. What are you into?
Climbing is definitely my preferred activity. I’ve been climbing for 15 years, and it’s always remained my number one passion. I mostly competed in climbing growing up, but now I prefer trad and sport so I can travel, push my limits, and be outside. I’m trying to learn more about aid and bigwall climbing currently.
I am also a highpointer; from 2011 to 2014, I summitted 49 of the 50 state highpoints (highest mountain in each state). Now, I’m trying to become the first person to summit all of the National Park Highpoints (I have 13 out of 59 currently).

What inspires you?
I am particularly inspired by female dirtbag trad/alpine climbers. Living this lifestyle is even harder for those of us who do not come from a rich background, so I’m inspired to continue on my path by other climbers who are making it work despite financial limitations. It’s never easy, but it’s totally worth it. My role models are Steph Davis and Emily Harrington for their positivity and all-around accomplishments in many disciplines of climbing. I’m also inspired by beautiful climbs and giant mountains, which drive my obsession with climbing and travel.

When that inspiration hits you, what do you do about it?
I go climbing! And if I can’t go climbing, then I coach climbing, write about climbing, photograph other climbers, plan highpointing trips… I think you get the idea!

Tell us about a time when the realization dawned on you that you could do something adventurous.
I started competition climbing when I was 6 years old, but I didn’t start outdoor climbing until high school. My true love for climbing really hit home for me on a climbing trip to the City of Rocks in Idaho when I was about 15. On that trip, I totally botched my first multipitch climb and had some wild screw-ups climbing with my high school buddies, but I learned a lot about myself and the lifestyle. It solidified my love for climbing in wild places, and I’ve never looked back. When I started trad climbing in college, it opened so many doors and made me realize that I could climb literally anywhere I wanted (which was definitely a factor in my trip to Patagonia).

Fallon bouldering in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
Photo credit: Philip Quade

What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I broke my leg, ankle, and foot in October 2017 when my handhold broke on a highball boulder in Joe’s Valley, Utah. I was warming up and I didn’t have a crashpad under me. I hit the ground from 20 feet, resulting in 4 broken bones and many torn ligaments. Two surgeries, eleven screws, and eight months later, I’m still recovering and I walk with a limp. I can’t boulder or crack climb or run or jump. But I can sport climb, so I’m hanging on to that. Returning to climbing has given me immense joy, and I finally feel more like myself again. Getting through it was tough, but I had my senior year of college as a good distraction. I did a lot of physical therapy, and I’ve been working hard to make it function like a normal ankle again.

What are your plans for the near future?
I need another surgery to have the screws removed from my ankle and foot, but otherwise I’m looking forward to a lot of freedom. I’m doing a geology/GIS internship right now that ends in August, and then I’m going to do full-time van life. I’m really excited to continue getting stronger and work on trusting my bad ankle. Focusing on climbing again will be wonderful! Most of my projects are crack climbs, which I can’t do because of my ankle, so I need to choose some sport climbing projects (perhaps in Wild Iris or Lander or Rifle).

Fallon working on her project, Crackhouse (5.13) in the Utah desert
What would you say to someone who is ready to step out and try something new?
Just go for it! Find a mentor, get whatever gear you can, and realize that you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need a new rack of cams and six-pack abs and a decked-out van to make the climbing lifestyle work. Start with what you have, and go from there. If you want to start a different activity, do your research! See if you can find local guides or classes to help you get started safely. Find stoked partners, learn as much as you can, and get out there! As Mike Libecki says, "Don’t ration passion!" 

How can people get in touch with you or follow your adventures?
My Instagram @fallonclimbs is my most active social media. I also have a highpointing blog at where I post trip reports from all my highpoints, in addition to other outdoor writing.

Editor's note: Shortly after this interview we discovered that a friend of Fallon started a GoFundMe account to help with the cost of the surgery she needs next. If you would like to be a part of Fallon's journey, please donate by clicking or tapping here.

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