Laughing with Libby Sauter

Libby Sauter joined us on June 2, 2016 as the third speaker in our BeWild series. She spoke about her challenges on the rock and while saving the lives of children in war-torn countries.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 17, 2016

Speed climbing record-crusher and pediatric ICU nurse Libby Sauter joined The Mountaineers on June 2, 2016, for the third installment of our BeWild Speaker Series, presented by adidas outdoor. Libby spoke about her personal challenges with climbing and being a nurse educator for an international NGO.

Libby was introduced to climbing as a child but lost sight of it, rediscovering the vertical during college. 

Doing the minimum is not her style. In 2014, Libby and Mayan Smith-Gobat broke the women’s speed record for the ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Not only did they crush the old record of during their first run of the 3,000-foot route (clocking in at 5 hours 2 minutes), they beat their own record during a final attempt a few days later, standing on top of El Cap after 4 hours 43 minutes.

 Mayan Smith-Gobat & Libby in Yosemite | Women`s Speed Record on El Capitan  from adidas Outdoor


The day of her talk - June 2 - has  also been a pivotal day in Libby’s life. In different years on the same date, she suffered the devastating loss of close friends in climbing accidents. With the loss weighing heavy in her mind, she spent a lot of time focused on the idea of “why do we climb”.

She addressed her personal challenges of what it feels like to climb, being thousands of feet above the ground, and what keeps her motivated. She showed videos and told personal stories, letting her humor shine through the darkness. 

Libby Sauter BeWild 2

When Libby isn’t climbing, she travels all over the world to war-torn countries, caring for pediatric cardiac patients (children with heart issues). Her serious work with the Novick Cardiac Alliance, and the life and death challenges she sees, gives her meaning in her life and provides perspective as she seeks out new challenges, whether it's climbing a new route or helping a family in need.

Libby Sauter BeWild 3

A Humble Achiever

While she didn't mention it in her presentation, Libby is one of the most accomplished climbers of her generation. In May 2016, she received the American Alpine Club’s Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Award.

Libby is the youngest climber to be inducted to the AAC Hall of Mountaineering Excellence. and one of the five women in the ACC’s 114-year history to receive such an honor. Not only did she receive an award only five people receive each year, she was also the keynote speaker for the event.

Libby is a true inspiration and a great model for The Mountaineers, an organization founded in 1906 with 151 members - 77 of whom were women. The Mountaineers have been pioneering outdoor exploration and adventure for women and men for more than a century and just like Libby, we’re not stopping anytime soon.

Libby Sauter BeWild 4

Whether or not you climb or save the lives of children, Libby left the audience inspired to seek out what they love. Her genuine kindness and down-to-earth personality made the event one of a kind and we were so thankful for her to tell her stories to The Mountaineers and be a part of the BeWild family.


Washington native Jess Roskelley began his mountain climbing career at age 18 as a guide on Mount Rainier. By age 20, he had reached Rainier’s summit 35 times and was the youngest American to have reached the summit of Everest. Roskelley began dividing his time between working as a tank welder and pioneering new routes in the Alaska Range, where he met up with Alaska native Ben Erdmann. Ben, who came to alpinism by way of climbing frozen waterfalls, works with rigging systems as both passion and profession, and his ascents in Patagonia are marked by a continuous-movement style of alpinism, the endurance pushes. In 2013, Roskelley and Erdmann, along with partner Kris Szilas, established a first ascent on the East face of the Citadel (VI AI5+ M6+ 5.10R A3) in Alaska’s Kichatna Mountains in 70 hours camp-to-camp.

Today, Jess and Ben migrate, like birds, between the extreme poles of the Western Hemisphere, spending their winters in Patagonia and summers in Alaska, with occasional stopovers in the Cascades and the Rockies.

Jess and Ben will share highs and lows from their migratory life, from numerous successful summits of Fitz Roy and first ascents in both Alaska and Patagonia to starting their own rope access welding business, being roommates for life, and making sure the house is clean daily when Jess’s wife gets home from work. 


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