Misadventures is teaming up with Women’s Wilderness out in Boulder, Colorado to spread the word about their event, Summit Sisters. Summit Sisters is a sweet gathering June 3rd-5th that will bring together women climbing enthusiasts of all levels, including pros who will be leading workshops throughout the weekend! Tickets are going fast, but don’t worry. Head over to instagram, follow Misadventures and Women’s Wilderness, comment on the contest post and you could win a free ticket! It’s going to be awesome. The contest will run from 2/26 – 3/4.
To get you excited about the Summit Sisters, we interviewed one of their climbing instructors, Madaleine Sorkin. Madaleine is an impressive, Colorado-based pro climber who epitomizes the spirit of Women’s Wilderness. She’s a big supporter of getting women outdoors, pushing limits, and, above all, having a good time.
What is your earliest memory of climbing?
I started climbing in summer camp. I actually grew up in suburbia. And I always wanted to be outside playing. I got to try climbing one day and was immediately smitten, but never really had the opportunity to go. Finally, I did a summer program in Colorado where I was a work crewmember, intern, and then eventually instructed there. I just took what I loved about this lifestyle and ran with it.
What is your typical day? (Or your ideal day?)
I spend my time climbing and working as a guide and climbing coach at the Colorado Mountain School. I don’t do anything more professionally than that. I’ve had odd jobs. I’ve tried some office jobs. I got a degree in environmental planning, but it was not a good fit, as interesting as it is. I’m usually moving around doing something. Mostly, I’m really passionate about helping other people meet themselves with climbing.
What is Women’s Wilderness?
Women’s Wilderness is a great organization that focuses on experiential learning in the outdoors for girls and women, and now with intentional work in the transgender community. They provide the opportunity to be supported during experiences doing outdoor activities. They take on ‘for women, by women’ projects and have an experiential learning model similar to Outward Bound’s. It’s all about girls making choices for themselves: how far do I want to go, how much do I want to share. They offer all kinds of programs to those ends.
Summit Sisters is a broad event [no pun intended] that aims to get a community of women together to make connections, give presentations, and participate in workshops.
Why did you start instructing for them?
I wanted to create a safe climbing environment for girls and women. I started working with them summer of 2009. I was just really taken with the attention given to each individual experience. They’re really invested in making a safe environment, which also prioritizes having a good time and learning about yourself.
It’s a good family there, and very inclusive.
What’s your favorite place to climb?
I love climbing in El Dorado canyon. It’s got a spacious, atmospheric feel to it. I like places with a lot of space. Yosemite National Park has been a major destination for me over the years. Trying to free climb more routes on El Cap — I’m often orienting myself toward that.
What advice do you have for women climbers looking to take things to the next level?
I definitely advise women to seek out female partnerships. I’m all for climbing with men — I really enjoy it. But there’s a value in climbing with someone more similar to yourself. You feel more responsible for the decision-making, goals, and each other’s well-being. The emotional side of adventuring with women is so significant. I’m constantly learning how to support fellow women and be in tuned with each other.
So, I’d just say try to look for that support in any partnership. And then just go try it!
I learned pretty late how attainable a goal is if you really want it to happen.
If you try engaging in the process as wholeheartedly as you can, you’ll usually surprise yourself. The risk is worth it. That process of getting out of your comfort zone is so valuable, and you have to learn how to build that muscle. Maintaining it maintains a kind of curiosity in life.
What’s next for you?
I see myself continuing to learn and prioritizing what I actually value about the climbing experience. I want to continuing to be more invested in Boulder as my home.
I used to discount the value of adventuring with women. But I want to encourage women to keep it in mind as a valuable experience — venture and play with other women. We didn’t get that opportunity much growing up. If you haven’t had those experiences, do it. It will enrich your life in amazing ways.
Find out more about Summit Sisters on the Women’s Wilderness site.