These Badass Athletes Will Make You Want to Take Up Rock Climbing
Caroline George and Katie Lambert share what it was like to climb one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
You don't have to be a seasoned rock climber to appreciate the epic landscape that makes up the Lofoten Islands off the west coast of Norway. With endless daylight and innumerable granite mountains, it's no wonder this part of Scandinavia is the epitome of "is this a real place or from a fantasy book" beauty. Eddie Bauer–sponsored climbers Caroline George and Katie Lambert have both become superfans of the region and opened up about their most recent trip to the absurdly beautiful location last month.
"I've been head over heels in love with this area for years," George says. "During our trip, we were in this area that sticks out of the mainland of northern Norway and is surrounded by the gorgeous ocean. The higher you go, the more you see the definition of the fjords and how they fill the landscape. It's really magical and the connection between the sea and the summit is just really special to me."
For Lambert, though, this was the first time visiting Norway. She was completely mesmerized by the one-of-a-kind landscape. "It was amazing and so much more than I expected," she says. "The potential for climbing was endless. You'd literally pop out of one mountain, just to see a hundred more." (Related: 12 Places to Go Rock Climbing Before You Die)
The duo has been living in the vertical dimension since they were just kids-and they have some pretty incredible victories under their belt. Some of George's accomplishments include scaling the Six Classic North Faces of the Alps and a succession of the world's hardest ice routes, everywhere from Norway to New Hampshire, Antarctica, and Alberta.
And Lambert is literally one of the world's best female free climbers and the first woman to attempt more than 22 different ascents around the world. She's also a part of the second group in history to free-climb Mt. Proboscis in Canada-considered one of the toughest summits to reach in North America-in a single day. (Another incredible adventure athlete breaking records? Sasha DiGiulian made history as the first woman to conquer the 700-meter Mora Mora climb.)
While scaling rock in Norway wasn't necessarily the most challenging climb for these inspiring women, it was one of the most memorable.
As a part of their sponsorship with Eddie Bauer, the women take climbing trips around the world to test out gear and equipment. If they don't like something, they have the right to veto it and stop it from going to production. Whoa-as if scaling 3,760-foot mountains weren't enough pressure.
Since George and Lambert had similar climbing expertise and experience, the outdoor brand thought it was best to pair them up, which is how they first met three years ago. While they were complete strangers, they had one thing in common: Their passion for climbing-something that evolved in different ways for them over the years. (Related: Want to Try Rock Climbing? Here's What You Need to Know)
"I was 3 years old when I started climbing and just remember hating it," says George. "But all of our family trips, vacations and weekends revolved around climbing, so it became a sort of family value and something that set me apart from my peers."
It wasn't until she was in her 20s that a life-threatening incident made George realize her enthusiasm for climbing and how much it really meant. "Twenty years ago, I got into an accident where I fell 1,200 feet while skiing back down a mountain after a climb," she says. "I broke several bones in my body and spent two months lying in a hospital bed to help heal my pelvis back into place."
During her time on bed rest, she says she had a sort of epiphany. "I found myself drawing climbing gear, writing about climbing, thinking about skiing and being in the mountains," she says. "From then on my life aligned in a direction that made me realize that climbing was going to be my life. It was like I was a caterpillar that transformed into a butterfly and finally realized my purpose. While it was an intense experience, it was super impactful and I'm still trying to understand how one event can just shift your life so dramatically."
Lambert, however, found climbing when she was a teenager completely by chance. "The summer I was 15, I went to a camp in North Carolina," she says. "I was too old to be a camper but too young to be a counselor so I decided to be a junior counselor, where I was required to pick an activity to facilitate. For some random reason, I chose climbing and that was it. I fell in love with it that summer." And it would seem that she never looked back. (Related: This Badass Woman Just Summited Everest In a Record-Breaking Climb)
What started out as a hobby ended up becoming a profession for Lambert eight years ago. She's crushed big walls around the globe, from Yosemite and Zion to Picos de Europa and the Cirque of the Unclimbables. Now, along with being a professional athlete with Eddie Bauer, she is also a nutritionist running her own nutritional therapy practice. And she helps run a nonprofit out of Yosemite National Park, Sacred Rock, which helps foster a love of nature and self-respect in youth.
To these women, climbing, but more specifically climbing together, has been a major source of empowerment-a feeling that they'd like to share with the world. "The really great thing about climbing is that unlike most sports, it requires women to be really supportive of each other and be there for each other," says George. "I think to have a partnership like Katie and I do is empowering and unique because we're both working toward the same goals and push each other both physically and mentally while having a ton of fun."
"Climbing is pretty special," agrees Lambert. "Not only do you get to develop yourself and your mental fortitude, you get to develop amazing relationships with other women and places, which helps you create a better sense of self."
Watch George and Lambert scale the mountainous Norwegian islands in what some would say appears to be the end of the Earth.