How Rock Climbing Taught Me to Trust Myself

A decade of climbing has given me a major confidence boost — and some strong forearms.

Photo: Courtesy of Katrina Klawiter

Nearly 10 years and four moves ago, I was attending college in Texas when I fell in love with rock climbing.

When I first started, my forearms burned so much after a climb that it was difficult to grip my steering wheel driving home. But the pain didn't stop me — nowadays, I climb two days a week on the outskirts of Aspen and lead climbing workshops in my time off from my advertising job.

Katrina Klawiter rock climbing
Courtesy of Katrina Klawiter

A big part of climbing is giving in to your surroundings and believing in yourself. You must trust in your abilities — and that actually calms me. The sport isn't just mental, though. Physically, lower-body power propels you, but strong forearms are also key. That's why I focus on hangboard workouts in the gym.

I find value in pushing myself, and climbing has the same risk and reward as my other passion, local theater. Only instead of getting applause, I feel the rush from reaching the top of the mountain. And with my climbing crew by my side, I've learned to prioritize what I truly enjoy in life. (

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