10 Essential Questions: Caitlin O'Brien

Meet Caitlin O'Brien, The Mountaineers' Youth Education Manager who loves everything outdoors except for white water. She joined us in 2012 and continues to be awed by the positive impact The Mountaineers has on the community.
Kristina Ciari Kristina Ciari
April 10, 2015

For our member profile this week we spoke to employee and active member Caitlin O'Brien. She told us about her work with youth and how it continues to inspire her every day.

Name: Caitlin O'Brien
Hometown: Williamstown, MA
Member Since: 2012
Occupation: Youth Education Manager at The Mountaineers
Favorite Activities:  I love XC skiing, mountaineering, alpine climbing, rock climbing, cragging, biking, swimming, canoeing on flat water, running, sailing on calm water, down hill skiing, finding a love for BC skiing - all of it! All of it (except not white water please and thank you)!

10 Essential Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?
I joined The Mountaineers because I started to work here in 2012, but I swear I was going to join if I didn't get the job. I have a passion for getting outside with people, and getting out safely and responsibly, and The Mountaineers does just that. When I started working here, I really saw the impact The Mountaineers has on getting people outside and teaching them the skills to be safe and responsible.
 

What motivates you to get outside with us?

I took the Crag Course in 2013, and I really learned what The Mountaineers is all about. What really motivates me is the amazing volunteers who give so much of their time to pass on their knowledge to the next generation or the next class. I mean, where else are you going to find a group of adults who actually WANT to spend 6 WHOLE months worth of weekends with ME learning how to ice ax arrest, or place pro? After I finished the course, I realized just how excited I was to volunteer the next year and pass along the knowledge I had learned, and how excited I was to sit in my harness on the side of a wall watching someone else place pro - really and truly! It's so amazing to witness the moment when someone just gets it - their "A ha!" moment.


What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?
Because I work with youth at The Mountaineers, my favorite memory was when we took a group of youth from a permanent housing community on their first hike outside of Seattle. It was an incredible experience to see one particular kid, who I have a really strong relationship with, figure out what nature and wilderness is all about. She went nuts running around, touching trees, dirt - anything that was outside she wanted to get her hands on. I remembered having the same feeling when I was a kid and how that feeling has never left me. It was special to see it pass along to someone who really needed that special connection with nature.

Who/What inspires you?
My family inspires me! Growing up, my parents brought my brothers and me on a week-long backcountry canoe trip every summer. This started my love affair with the outdoors, and throughout my childhood we camped, hiked, biked, and canoed. When I moved out to Seattle my brother Colin got me into climbing and very quickly exposed me to some pretty amazing places. I got to do more in my first year of climbing than I think most people get to do in 10 years of climbing. My oldest brother, Keegan, hiked the entire Pilgrim trail in Spain by himself. He found the motivation to hike the whole trail by himself. I mean that alone just amazes me. My parents are bike-obsessed and treat themselves to an international bike trip every year (this year they are going to France). I hope when I'm nearing retirement age I'll take after my parents and be climbing peaks in Patagonia.

What does adventure mean to you?
Adventure means getting outside, challenging myself, experiencing life beyond technology, and connecting with others.
Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
Superpower? Flying - so I wouldn't have to descend a mountain.
Smile or game face? Smile.
Post-adventure meal of choice? Big ol bag of chips - preferably cooked in avocado oil.
If you could be a rock star at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Backcountry skiing - so I could descend big ol peaks faster!

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