Beth Rodden is an American rock climber. She was the youngest woman to climb 5.14a, and is one of the only women in the world to have redpointed a 5.14c traditional climb. We spoke with her about what life is like now she is a mum to a little boy, and how she managed to continue rock climbing 6 months pregnant!
Full Name: Beth Rodden
Where do I live:Split our time between Yosemite and the Bay area
Environment I like the most: Mountains
Best place I have visited: Norway
Favourite adventure: Alone in the mountains with my family
Dream adventure: Alone in the mountains with my family 😉
Can’t go on an adventure without? Good company
How did you first get into climbing?
My dad took me to the local climbing gym when I was 14 years old.
How did you move from being an indoor climber to going on expeditions?
Some of the guys that worked at the climbing gym were great mentors to me. They started taking me outside, first to the Sierras, then to Oregon on climbing trips. From there I met other people, and eventually met Lynn Hill who invited me on my first expedition to Madagascar. That was the turning point for me to take climbing full time and try and make it my life.
Has there been a particular memorable highlight of your career?
Climbing To Bolt or Not To Be, Lurking Fear, The Nose, Meltdown, starting to be vulnerable writing on my blog – really opened my eyes to a whole other part of the climbing community away from just climbing hard.
Any low points?
6 years of injuries just after Meltdown. I tried so hard to climb hard at that point, and kept getting injured. But there’s usually a blessing in disguise, and I really rediscovered my love of climbing, no matter what level, which was a true gift.
Where you worried about your adventurous lifestyle when you made the decision to become a mom?
I wasn’t worried about the adventurous part, but more of the atypical part. The part where we are never in one place very long, traveling a lot, being outside all the time. But so far we’ve adapted pretty well. It’s definitely an adjustment, but amazing to be able to share it with our little guy! I haven’t gone on any big trips without Theo yet, nor have we gone on many rope climbing trips. While he’s young, bouldering has been the most conducive (except when he was really young, before being mobile, then cragging was great!)
You continued to climb while pregnant, how did you manage that?
I climbed until about 6 months pregnant. I basically stopped when it didn’t feel good anymore. I listened to my body and at some point it just didn’t sound like fun to go out and climb. I climbed at a super easy level most of the time. I made sure that I was very open with my OB and midwife about my activities and they were very supportive of what I did. I also worked with two doctors to do a medical study on climbing while pregnant, the first ever, to help other women who are struggling knowing whether to climb or not.
Have you received any negativity from individuals or the industry since becoming a mom?
Not personally 🙂 My sponsors have been very supportive, which has been incredible. I was really worried about losing my career if I couldn’t climb hard for a period of time. But I’ve been able to do other things in the industry and for my sponsors that I’ve really enjoyed; writing, product development, speaking, clinics, etc.
Since Theo was born, what has life been like for you, do you continue to climb?
I definitely still climb, but just less than I used to. Theo is only this age for a little while, and I figure when he starts school that will give me more time to climb, I want to soak up this time while I can.
What advice would you offer other adventurous women worried about starting a family?
I think starting a family is a very personal decision for anyone, regardless of lifestyle. I’m definitely not one of those evangelical moms in saying that everyone must have kids. I was nervous about it, knowing that it would change our lifestyle a lot and wanting to make sure that I could give enough energy to a child. Luckily when Theo was born it was completely natural to give him all the time and attention for me. But I have friends who struggle with giving up their free time, which I totally understand. Having a child is a huge decision, no matter what you do in your free time. The climbing lifestyle can work well, but it takes a little more time and logistics 😉
What’s next for you and your boy?
We are looking forward to spending the fall in Yosemite!
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Bex Band founded Love Her Wild. Alongside running the community, she is an author, blogger and speaker on all things adventure and conservation. For her work championing women in the outdoors, she has been nominated for multiple awards and was named one of the UK’s Top 30 inspirational entrepreneurs.