BeWild: An Interview with Sasha DiGiulian

The Mountaineers and adidas outdoor are pleased to present Sasha DiGiulian, as part of the BeWild Speaker Series, on April 15. We sat down with her this week to learn more about climbing in Cuba, her position as a female climbing icon, and what inspires her most.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 07, 2016

The Mountaineers and adidas outdoor are pleased to present Sasha DiGiulian, as part of the BeWild Speaker Series, on April 15. We sat down with her this week to learn more about climbing in Cuba, her position as a female climbing icon, and what inspires her most.

[Mountaineers]: You’re climbing in Cuba right now. Can you tell us a little about the Havana climbing scene?

[Sasha]: I  recently traveled to Cuba on two different occasions. Havana is where you fly in, but Vinales is essentially the epicenter of the developed climbing in Cuba. The rock is really solid and holds a lot of potential. A decent amount of climbing already exists, though, is only a scratch to the surface of what is potentially available for climbing. 

Editors Note: National Geographic recently published an article about climbing in Cuba, written by Sasha. Read it here.


[M]: You've completed 28 First Female Ascents around the world, and recently written a post entitled Are First Female Ascents Irrelevant? on your blog. Do you ever get tired of having to field this question in addition to climbing at a higher grade than 99% of all climbers – male or female – or do you enjoy debating this issue?

[S] I never mind having an intellectual, informed discussion. I recognize that there are strong points to both sides of this debate, though what I do get tired of is discussing this issue with some people that seem to be slightly ignorant to the roots of the issue. Inequality in sports is more of an issue in sports like the WNBA, Women’s Soccer, and Women’s Hockey than it is in climbing. In individual sports, in general, men and women tend to have equal access to endorsement deals and equal pay. This is not holistic, but is better than team sports. What I do find, though, is that climbers can fall into this bubble of seeing just the progressive side of climbing and not consider gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of broader society. Climbing traditionally has been a male dominated sport and as gender inequality is an issue in society, it is an issue in climbing still as well. I will stand by my belief that highlighting female achievements contributes to the broader effort of female progression, across climbing, sports, and society. 

[M]: What natural landscapes in particular inspire you most as a climber?

[S]: I love how when I am climbing outside I forget about the urban chaos. When I am in NYC sometimes I feel like I am doing a million things at the same time. When I am climbing outside, I solely am focusing on the task in front of me. 

[M]: What can people coming to your to your talk at The Mountaineers expect?

[S]: How have I created my path in climbing and how has this perspective changed in the last years from when I broke on to the scene of being a professional climber, to my future plans past graduation. 

Join Sasha April 15 

Seattle Program Center | 7pm

Sasha first began climbing at 6 years old, in 1998. She has won the World Championships for Female Overall, and has placed Silver in the Bouldering World Championships, as well as Bronze in the Duel. Sasha has been the undefeated pan American Champion 2004 to the present, and she is a three-time US National Champion.

Outdoors, Sasha is the first and only North American woman to climb the grade 9a, 5.14d, recognized as the hardest sport climb ever achieved by a female. She has done two. Sasha was the third woman in the world to accomplish this grade. Additionally, she has onsighted multiple 8b+’s, 5.14a’s, ascended groundbreaking multi-pitch routes of up to 1000 feet of 8c climbing, and has accomplished multiple First Ascents and Dozens of First Female Ascents around the world.

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