Taking 5 with Sasha DiGiulian
Take a walk on the wild side with professional climber Sasha DiGiulian as she shares her cavernous world of climbing, creative writing, and failing time and again.
After 15 years as a professional, world-renowned climber Sasha DiGiulian is forging a path in yet another direction. We caught up with the athlete and writer to discuss her latest endeavors, and becoming skilled at knowing when to push ahead versus when to take a step back. Come along as she talks about going her own way and the failures she has encountered throughout.
How failure motivates her to keep climbing mountains, literally
An Alexandria, Virginia native, we met up with climber Sasha DiGiulian in Boulder, Colorado, where she’s lived since 2016. “What I love so much about living in Boulder is the lifestyle is oriented around outdoor activities and being outside. [I’m] kind of living in an oasis.” So, other than living in her ideal location, we asked Sasha to share the five things she needs every day to be her best. Her answer? A good night’s sleep, a good workout, a nutritious meal, and being around people that she loves.
Sasha welcomed us into the place where she gets a lot of those good workouts: her personal climbing gym, affectionately named the Digi (for “DiGiulian”) Dojo. Similarly to its martial arts namesake, Sasha’s Dojo is a safe space to practice both mental and physical strength. “In my own career I’ve constantly been questioned, like, why I deserve what I have or proving my worth... [The sport of climbing] can be not very welcoming to women all the time. I’d love for the climbing world to be more inclusive and then also see more diversity within the sport. I just want everyone who wants to go climb and experience climbing to feel like they have their own place within the community.” It’s evident that she means what she says, as Sasha works with a handful of foundations promoting physical health and encouraging women, minorities, and anyone facing adversity to get outside.
I’d love for the climbing world to be more inclusive and then also see more diversity within the sport.
Having been climbing since the age of six, Sasha knows a thing or two about the industry. “It's what I do. It’s my passion, it’s my hobby, it’s my job.” However, Sasha didn’t let her love of climbing get in the way of her other passion: she graduated Columbia University with a degree in Creative Writing in 2016. “Being a professional athlete and also a full-time student at Columbia was really tough,” she confesses. After all, it was her climbing career that helped fund her education. “Every time I go on an expedition I get a specific notebook and I’ll wake up on a portal edge in the morning and kinda write my thoughts out — what I’m feeling, what experiences I’m having. It’s my little space to be on my own and find this connection with myself through the stillness."
Sasha experienced a different kind of stillness recently, as she received reconstructive surgery on both hips. “It taught me a lot about patience and resilience.” She shows us a ring she had made from the screws that once bound her hips together which were melded down to make the ring. It’s silver with pink and blue stones. Unapologetically representing her feminine side, she tells us, “pink is my favorite color, and sapphires [represent] resilience through hardship.”
The beauty of climbing is that you fall constantly, until you send
Another big change that Sasha has undergone? After 15 years, Sasha decided to no longer compete in rock climbing events and switched her focus on big, outdoor expeditions. “Every day I’m interacting with my surroundings in a really intense way. When I’m climbing I know exactly what type of rock I'm on, what the grit of the rock underneath my fingertips feels like. I get to feel the wind in my hair; appreciate the sunshine on my back. I get to cultivate this relationship with nature that’s really intimate.”
She reminds us, “you never know until you try.” Sasha never imagined she would be a professional climber, and didn’t even really know what that looked like until she began winning competitions and forging her own path. “The beauty of climbing is that you fall constantly, until you send. You’re never, like, conquering something. The mountain is always gonna be above you and you’re always gonna be insignificant in comparison to your surroundings.” She reminds us whether it's facing injuries, mistakes during competitions, or missed opportunities, it’s about showing up, training hard, and trying again.
“You fail, fail, fail... until you succeed.”
INSPIRED BY SASHA'S STORY?
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