10 Essential Questions: Melanie Stam

Meet Melanie Stam, a 2-year member from Georgia who feels fortunate to have met some of her favorite people through The Mountaineers. As a semi-retired skydiver, she finds inspiration in seeing slaydies (def: ladies who slay) shred some serious gnar.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
September 01, 2018
10 Essential Questions: Melanie Stam
Photo courtesy of Amanda Albright.

Each week we bring you a personal story from one of our members. For our member profile this week we talked to....

Name: Melanie Stam
Hometown: Cumming, GA
Member Since: March 2016
Occupation: Software Engineer
Favorite Activities: I've had a few favorites over the years! When I lived in Georgia I spent most of my time caving, since that region has 14,000 of some of the best caves in the US. While I was in upstate New York I enjoyed some winter ice climbing and summer tree climbing. I moved to Seattle three years ago, and since then my focus has been on mountaineering, hiking, and climbing. I also have over a decade of experience skydiving (jeez I'm getting old) and ~550 jumps, but these days I'm mostly "retired".

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

Soon after moving here I went climbing at Exit 38 with a coworker, and it turned out some other members of the party were leading the intense basic course the upcoming year (hi Sherrie and Rob!). I was sold on the idea, applied, and was fortunate to be accepted. 

At the same time I was falling out of love with skydiving. It had been a core part of my identity for so long that stepping back was painful and left me feeling unmoored. Joining The Mountaineers gave me a new place to focus my energy and a chance to experience some of what makes Washington so special. I would have joined anyway, but I was fortunate that I came to it when I most needed it!

What motivates you to get outside with us?

The community! I had lived in Seattle for almost a year when the week of Intense Basic started, but joining the course was the beginning of feeling like I had a community I was a part of and a life and a home here. I've met some of my favorite people through The Mountaineers and I know I have more favorites to meet still!

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

Climbing Ingalls last year on my birthday weekend! Even though most of the people didn't know each other, it turned out to be an awesome group with a really fun dynamic. There were also a lot of firsts - the climb leader's first time in that role, my first time as a rope lead, several students' first rock summit. So it was cool to get that many accomplishments into a single trip!

Who/What inspires you?

I am really inspired by rad women, both ones I know and in the media. I've spent way too much time in male dominated environments and it's easy to get this creeping sense that you don't belong or you'll never make it or do as much or be as respected. Carrying that around is exhausting, and there's nothing that lifts that weight like seeing slaydies (def: ladies who slay) shred some serious gnar.

What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure is about pushing your comfort zone and doing things that scare you. I don't mean dangerous things (I'm personally pretty risk averse) but rather things where you have to trust the skills you have and believe that you're ready. My first solo backpacking trip, my first time acting as a trip leader, objectives where I wasn't sure I could succeed - those are my favorite adventures and times where I really grew.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
Smile or game face? Smile. 
Whats your happy place? Outside with friends!
What's your 11th essential? For day trips I'm head over heels for my DrinkTanks insulated growler (full of beer, of course)

If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Skiing.
Bonus: For anyone curious about the selected picture, I lost a bet and had to carry the kayak and paddle to the top of Mailbox. The kayak deflates, but was still a tight squeeze in my largest pack. The paddle got strapped to the outside, and kept getting stuck between trees. My boyfriend found this hilarious... and honestly, rightly so!

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