10 Essential Questions: Natalia Martinez-Paz

Meet Natalia Martinez-Paz, a native Seattleite and Mountaineers volunteer, who is always accompanied by her Chewbacca stuffie on her climbs!
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
March 19, 2021

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

Name Natalia Martinez-Paz
Hometown Seattle (Swedish baby, RHS grad!)
Member Since April 2012
Occupation Telehealth and Rural Health Program Manager
Favorite Activities Skiing is the greatest joy of my life! But also climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, thru-hiking, sailing, sea kayaking, and more.

10 ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

There was a point where my sport climbing friends didn't want to hike, and my hiking friends didn't want to climb, and all I wanted to do was combine the two. I took the Seattle Glacier course and then the Tacoma Basic course. I had learned to climb from friends in the late 90s and early aughts and figured I should probably double check that I was doing everything right!

What motivates you to get outside with us?

So many things! I love teaching and watching people grow through learning and pushing their limits, but the community of people is phenomenal and what keeps me here.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

I have so many! Everything from volunteering with the MAC group to working with the basic students, it's all super fun! However, I think my fondest memory is working through my own fear and discomfort in snow travel as a basic student. My climb leader was extremely supportive, even though I was moving at a snail’s pace on my first basic climb. I didn’t know how to move in snow yet, but having that guidance and support broke the snow travel spell that had been hanging over me. That experience led me back to a peak that had scared me off two years prior and I comfortably climbed it with confidence. Thank you Julie Myer and Kevin Hornback!

Who/what inspires you?

Being outside inspires me, and having a strong community inspires me! I spent 10 years of my life traveling and living literally all around the world and when I came home, I realized how special home had always been. Finding community in The Mountaineers has been an anchor in deepening that connection to place and people.

As a donor and volunteer-supported organization, The Mountaineers is based on community support. How have you paid it forward, or how have you benefited from someone else paying it forward?

I have spent a fair share of my time volunteering with the club and I've also been very fortunate to receive scholarships to complete my WFR and AIARE 2 courses. I'm very thankful for the support to continue my own outdoor education.

I'm on the Tacoma Basic Climbing Committee (two terms as Lectures Chair, one as Co-Chair, and two as Chair), the Progressive Climbing Education Curriculum Committee, serve on the E&I Steering Committee, and am also the Tacoma Branch Council Vice-Chair.

What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure to me means the unknown, when you're not quite sure about where you'll end up. I actually don't put outdoor sports into that category as we hope to enter with as much training, information, and support as possible. For me, a true adventure (and in many ways my ideal adventure) is just me, myself, and I, wandering a new city or country with a backpack. Preferably somewhere I don't speak the language. Bonus points if I ended up there by accident. Now that is adventure.

Lightning round

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset - people have been known to break down a tent while I'm still inside sleeping...
Smile or game face? Game face
What's your 11th Essential? Chewie! A relatively new essential, Steve Payne gave me a Chewbacca stuffie on a CHS hike that now joins me on my rambles. He most recently climbed Mt. Olympus.
What’s your happy place? When you are climbing/skiing and you feel that thin line align from the skies, through you, down into the earth. It's the moment of stillness within movement I've only ever experienced climbing and skiing. But in less philosophical terms, pretty much anywhere there are ponderosa pines.
Post-adventure meal of choice? Beer. Always beer. And preferably tacos alongside.
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? I would prefer to be highly competent at many things rather than a rockstar at any one. But ok, twist my arm - skiing.


This article originally appeared in our Spring 2021 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.

LEAD IMAGE OF natalia martinez-paz on a climb. IMAGE COURTESY OF natalia martinez-paz