On being brave

Besides lead falls, there are other things I’m afraid of.

Like allowing myself to shed a frustrated tear when a boulder problem repeatedly shuts me down.

Like telling people passing through the shop that yeah, I work in a climbing shop but I really don’t climb that hard (yet.)

Like telling people that I love that I can’t be there with them because I have to selfishly pursue something as trivial as repeatedly scaling rock faces.

Like committing to a career and suffering through days behind a desk when I could be outside and doing what I love.

Climbing is an art form and lifestyle that repeatedly shoves fear in your face. It springs itself upon you and you have to decide what you’re going to do with it: listen to it and back down, ease off and choose a safer alternative? Or do you quell it and prove to yourself that you are capable, competent and strong?

I’m a climber. I’m not a particularly strong or brave climber, but goddamn it, I’ve got a little fight in me.



Yesterday, I reluctantly pulled myself from my cozy bed and gathered my things to go climbing. The weather was slightly overcast and gauzy clouds draped themselves over the rocks. It seemed like conditions were going to be so-so, but we pushed forward with our plans.

We started on a damp 10- climb that’s spooked me in the past. Given the conditions, I decided not to lead it. Normally, Alan (one of my constant partners at Smith) will pull the rope and laugh at me when I tell him that I’m scared. With him, I’ve consistently onsighted and attempted harder climbs than with any other partner. Each time I climb with Alan, I feel like I get a little stronger. It also helps that he’s a solid 12 climber and projects 13s and 14s.

Fast forward a few climbs and I’m leading a 10c, feet above my last bolt and a small ledge. Fear creeps into my mind and down into my now shaking foot.

I call down to my belayer, “Chris, I think I’m gonna fall.”

Immediately, both of the guys start cheering me on, telling me to stick with it, find my feet, move up, you got this, etc.

But my mind isn’t having any of that positivity nonsense. Instead, I’m fixated on the fact that when I inevitably fall, it’s going to be a long whip given the distance between me and my last bolt. And it happens.

And – surprise – I’m totally fine.

I’m shaking, laughing nervously and finding myself temporarily unable to make eye contact with the guys because I’m embarrassed. I hate falling on lead not for the fear that caused me to fall, but for the way it messes with my headgame.

If lead climbing – especially onsight climbing – is a blank canvas open to your creative interpretation; falling is a disjunctive ink splatter that disrupts the flow.

But it’s not the end of the world. You can incorporate the splatter and then later use your experience to make better art, climb harder, etc. But it still gets to me and the guys knew it.

I start to try to talk my way out of the climb, “I don’t know guys… I just got really scared.” I’m still smiling and laughing, but shaking like a leaf. The adrenaline jolt has woken me up and the part of my brain that handles fear is galvanized. But, being good climbing partners, they tell me that they’re not going to let me down that easy.

I take a moment. Gather my thoughts. And prepare myself to continue up. They’re right, I shouldn’t give up that easy. They also give me good pointers about using my feet, focusing my attention and shifting my weight to better grip the rock. It becomes obvious to me that these guys have been climbing longer and harder than I have; and I’m grateful for it.

Yesterday, I realized the length of the road ahead in my climbing career. I’m going to have to struggle my way up many more climbs, finesse others and fall from time to time. And  you know what? I’m psyched.


Today I was asked — point blank — why do you climb?

As someone who chronically find themselves overthinking, philosophizing and sometimes detaching completely from the present… I have to admit, I gave a totally weak answer: something, something about “there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

But I’ve been thinking some more about this idea and a more profound truth came to me: there is no “why I climb.” Pure and simple, climbing is just what I love to do. Why wouldn’t I do what I love?

And now that I’m thinking a bit more critically about it, I wonder why someone would need an answer to stand behind doing something that they love. Too often, I think that we are told that we should do things we’re good at, we should do things that will make us money and that we should do things.

When your life becomes a constant cycle of “What should I be doing?” or “I’m doing what I should be doing,” I think it becomes all to easy to lose sight of your simplest, truest “why.” In other words, when you’re doing what you’re naturally suited to do, you don’t need a reason because you have no reason to doubt yourself. You’re just manifesting your truth.


Happiness is not:

A van. A man. A place. A time. A grade. A thing.

Happiness is carefully saving your money, investing your time and energy into building out your van so that you can comfortably live your dream for weeks on end.

Happiness is trusting a man to let you live your dream and come back to him when you’re ready. Happiness is recognizing that he’s sad to see you go, but happy to see you chase your dreams.

Happiness is following your heart to a new home, new homies and a new landscape hundreds of miles from where you grew up and feeling accepted, welcome, ready to relax and enjoy what life has to offer.

Happiness is recognizing that you’re on a lifelong journey with highs, lows, summits and valleys. Happiness is accepting where and who you are along each step of the way.

Happiness is recognizing that you’ve worked really hard to lead 10+, recognizing that grades are irrelevant and joy is the real reason why you do what you do.

Happiness is a state of mind.



Life gave me the gift of lemons today. For a moment, I found myself flung from the presence and mindfulness that has rooted me to my new home. It’s hard for me to admit this publicly, but I know we all experience it from time to time: I was grappling with a bout of social anxiety.

My whole life, I’ve been quirky. It started when I pushed my mom away as a toddler, telling her: I do it by all myself. I’ve been a tomboy. I’ve been loud. I’ve been outspoken. I’ve used vulgarity. I’ve been terrifically sarcastic. I’ve been justly and unjustly opinionated. Throughout my whole life, I’ve been very, very Mallorie. Love me or hate me, I’m just me. I don’t know how to be anything else.

At a glance, I’m kind of like a kiwi or something. Kinda gnarly and rough at first take, but soft on the inside. When there’s drama in my life, I really struggle. I’ve never been the type of girl to have a solid girl-crew or even to claim my femininity. I’d much rather keep up with the boys; no drama, no bullshit, just do it.

Girls have always been a sore subject for me. I’m friendly with girls, sure, but I don’t understand how to be a delicate lady-flower. I don’t know how to tone it down. I don’t know how to be cute. I don’t know how to be pretty. I can be pretty singularly-focused and often times, it’s to the detriment of my female relationships.

[Realizing as I’m writing this: Uh-oh, this might be a long one…]

In high school, I had a few female best friends, but nothing that lasted more than two years (ish.) There was a moment when I was incredibly dedicated to springboard diving. It was my entire life. I spent hours each day developing dive sequences, dreaming up my next trick for an upcoming meet… I was so singularly focused that I lost sight of my team and drew resentment from the girls that didn’t understand me. They didn’t understand my need for isolation to obtain complete concentration to push my diving to new heights, new tricks and record setting scores.

One girl in particular decided that she’d had enough of my obscurity and turned otherwise un-opinionated teammates against me, talking behind my oblivious back. And let me tell you: it utterly broke my heart.

My whole world was diving and when I was able to see beyond my blinders, I only saw girls that had no desire to engage with me. This was only compounded by the fact that other members of my small sphere had decided that my relationship with my coach was inappropriate, as evidenced by the favoritism he demonstrated by attentively coaching me and providing me with every opportunity to thrive (how dare he.) I’d like to publicly say that he never did anything wrong and never overstepped a single boundary. But in a small community, gossip is fun — even at the cost of a teenage girl’s happiness and relative sanity.

So, all of that baggage out of the way: when a girl decides she has beef with me, I freak out. I don’t know what to do. I already feel like the odd-girl-out as it is, which I’ll acknowledge is part self-fulfilling prophecy and part I-don’t-give-a-shit-I-just-want-to-keep-up-with-the-boys. If you’re an odd girl like me, be strong. I’d never trade my bold personality to fit the norm. When I encounter odd girls like me, it stokes me out because I know that “well behaved women seldom make history.” Be brave. Go forth. Make history. Make motherfucking lemonade.

This Must Be the Place

Do me a favor, blast this song while you read this post.

I was driving Highway 97 by myself, windows down, some garbage pop song playing loud on the radio and I just knew: I can’t leave Terrebonne.

I’d just come down from climbing in the Marsupials — an obscure crag by Smith-classics standards — and was on my way to meet a friend to climb boulders outside of Bend when it became absolutely clear to me. Between my job, the climbing that I’m doing, the progress that I’m making, the people that I’m meeting, the life that I’m loving, I know this must be the place for me. This is home for now.


I have this project. It’s haunting me. I think about it most every day.

From the beginning, the climb is committing. I reach around a corner to two thin, downward-angled rails and trust my fingertips alone to hold my entire body weight. Then, I lift my right foot high and hope that the friction between the rubber of my shoe and steep, featureless rock will allow me to stand and reach a high hold for my left hand. In this move, my right knee starts near my ribs and slowly, powerfully extends to improve my reach.

I can confidently pull the moves through the first two bolts. It’s the third bolt that I think about daily.

My left hand latches onto a feature vaguely reminiscent of a mushroom — I can’t think of a better way to describe it. It’s flat on the top — about the width of two quarters stacked on top of each other — connected to the wall by a short and stout stem as wide as a whiteboard marker, but only protruding about a half-inch from the face. As I’m writing this, I feel adrenaline spill from my forearms, through my wrists and into my fingers. My body knows the move but also knows how it feels to repeatedly fall from this feature. On a good go, I support my entire bodyweight — again — from the fingertips of my left hand, stand on negligible feet and throw for a blind right-hand sidepull.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen here. Each time, my friend Alan cheers me on right when I need it — right when the rational part of my brain starts panting, freaking out, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!” — and then dutifully catches me when I fall. He’s patient. Tells me to try it again. Tells me I’ve got this; which we both know I do, it’s just a matter of combining physically challenging moves with mental commitment.

What I’ve learned from this line, project and even partnership is that it’s ok to fall. In whatever you do, commitment is what makes failure more formidable, success sweeter, friendship richer, life worth living.


Recently, I’ve begun to explore the upper bounds of my present climbing abilities. And believe it or not, I’ve discovered that there’s more to life than just climbing. (Blasphemy, I know.)

When I came to Smith Rock, I intentionally wanted to push the envelope. This week, I’ve lead a few 10+’s, onsighted an 11b and struggled up my first 12a on TR… Consider this post another benchmark. And don’t get me wrong — I’m not done. I have a lifetime of climbing ahead of me, but there’s more to it than that: I have a whole lifetime ahead of me.

I visited Bellingham (also known as Bellinghome) over the weekend. Driving 6+ hours back, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly wasn’t prepared to be awestruck by the myriad colors of fall leaves; the crisp, coastal breeze; a mellow morning spent downtown. Everywhere I looked, I saw memories of a younger version of myself embedded throughout the city of subdued excitement. After briefly living the dirtbag dream in Smith Rock, I really appreciated some of the creature comforts that come along with living in the same place day after day, night after night. Having done both for a while, I now see pros and cons to each living arrangement.

One of the main reasons for returning to Bellingham was to visit my boyfriend Tim, who I’ve mentioned in a post or two before. A few of Tim’s signature traits are that he’s tall, often reserved, collected and pretty damn responsible. He’s the kind of guy you want to venture into the backcountry with because you know he’s going to be able to hold his own, whether you’re walking for miles on end or charging hard in a short 24-hour timeframe.

Tim is incredibly patient with my wildfire personality. Many people that know me well laugh at my constant extremes: stoked or unstoked. However, few people manage to guide me back to a comfortable baseline quiet-stoke like he does. I’m laughing at myself —  as someone who identifies as a climber — because truly, he’s my rock.

Mushy-gushy bullsh aside, I wanted to share with you something I’ve learned from being close to him: Tim loves to ski like I love to climb. But he isn’t preoccupied in developing a personal brand, a massive Instagram following, sponsorship from hip ski companies… He just works hard and skis harder. He loves it and doesn’t need to shove it in your face. And you know what? I love that about him. I think more people should be like Tim.