Sasha DiGiulian is one of the world’s strongest rock climbers. She was the first North American female to climb 5.14d. She has been training for the Ouray Ice Festival. Her coach Will Mayo talks about the last week with Sasha on some of America’s classic ice and mixed route.
Sasha has been on tools for six total days now. We met a week ago and I started coaching her in Vail. She’s taken one rest day so far.
Her enthusiasm is seemingly indefatigable. She has dealt with cold conditions in Vail with a smile and seems undeterred by the discomforts of winter climbing, assuming a positive attitude and persistently making rapid progress in learning how to climb with tools on rock and ice.
She definitely got the screaming barfies on the coldest day in Vail (-20 Celcius), but took it pretty much in stride. Sasha doesn’t seem to get pumped dry-tooling, which is not too surprising, but struggles the most with sustained ice climbing. She followed Bridalveil Falls on Tuesday, Jan. 6, in WI6 condition, so the term struggle is relative. DiGiulian said, “Today, Will Mayo and I climbed Bridalveil Fall, a multi-pitch ice route that is out of this world beautiful. Nature never ceases to amaze me. I love this mountain life!”
She’s adapting phenomenally well to the vastly different techniques of mixed climbing. She is transitioning from rock climbing to mixed climbing surprisingly well.
The two disciplines are remarkably different in many ways and the switch is often frustrating to elite rock climbers like Sasha. Yet, she is extremely “coach-able.” She listens intently to nuanced instruction and applies it accurately. Sasha is intelligent, the definition of which is essentially an ability to solve problems. Indeed, climbing is all about solving problems, in a sense, and the girl just has a natural proclivity for it, as well as a drive to work hard at refining her abilities.
It has been remarkable for me to watch her learn. To be able to share the sport with such a great athlete that also finds wonder in the visceral beauty of our winter routes brings a newness to the sport to me as well, reminding me of why I was hooked by this sport decades ago. We’re both competing in the Ouray Competition this weekend and we’re getting psyched!
All of our friends are arriving in town now, as usual, this weekend is one of the year’s highlights, year after year.
-Will Mayo is one of the world’s strongest ice and mixed climbers. He has spent the last week coaching Sasha Digiulian as she prepares to compete at the Ouray Ice Festival.[shareprints gallery_id=”10506″ gallery_type=”thumb_slider” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]Photos by Sasha DiGiulian, Andy Mann and Will Mayo