IWTC’s metaphor for travel is rock climbing with ropes, meaning that we all should go have adventures, but do them sensibly. So when we had an opportunity to talk with Lea Sachs, a real rock climber, we couldn’t resist.
IWTC: How did you get into climbing?
Sachs: I have been climbing since I could walk. OK, so I was about 4 when I was on a trip in southern France with my friend. I climbed up between two buildings about 35–40 feet (10–12 meters). I scared the adults, but I thought, oh Lea, you are sooo cool! Yeaaaah. When I was older, I moved to Boulder, Colorado (USA), and took up the sport for real.
IWTC: What is your favorite kind of climbing?
Sachs: There are several types, some that use ropes and some that don’t. I have tried most of them; and my favorite is bouldering without ropes. I usually climb on rocks that are 15–20 feet (4–6 meters) high or on indoor climbing walls. For safety, I use climbing pads and a spotter. I have sport climbed, but I’m not really into it. Bouldering requires strength, but not endurance, which suits my body type.
IWTC: Do you travel to climb?
Sachs: Not as much as I plan to do in the future, but I drove from Colorado to Hueco Tanks, Texas, one of the best known bouldering areas in the USA. My climbing team went there to camp and climb together over the Thanksgiving holiday. We could have stayed for months exploring all the routes. The best part was climbing all day in the wilderness with friends. The stars at night were beautiful!I dream of three trips.
- I was born in Vietnam and adopted when I was five months old, so I dream about going to Vietnam with my parents. There I want to climb the Halong Bay rock formations.
- Climbing Fontainebleau Forest, France is my second dream. It is near my grandma’s house, which is about an hour north of Paris.
- And I yearn to climb the stunning Sierra del Torcal, limestone formations in Andalucía, Spain.
My life goals are to climb both the Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California.
Sachs: Not many, but I dislocated my elbows once by not falling correctly. I quickly learned to tuck and roll.
IWTC: What advice would you give to women wanting to climb?
Sachs: Trust your belayer. It is all about trust. It is a mental sport, not just strength. Technique is important. As a petite girl, I love showing off my climbing skills to macho guys. People look at me and don’t expect me to be a climber.
IWTC: Who are your role models?
Sachs: I have three.
- Lynn Hill , an ambassador of Patagonia gear and clothing store, is a climbing goddess. She is amazing!
- Alex Puccio is the eight-time national champion in bouldering. She is super short, so I feel better about being 5 feet tall.
- Sasha Digiulian is the five-time national champion in sport climbing. She is petite and looks like a little fairy.
IWTC: What have you learned from climbing?
Sachs: If I fall down, I have support. Then I get up and try again. It is like life, if you work hard enough, you get it.
IWTC: You recently headed off for college. What are your plans for the future?
Sachs: My College major is kinesiology which is the study of the body’s movement. With this focus, I can become a physical therapist, chiropractor, and/or climbing coach. I taught kids to climb and want to do more of it. I plan to get my doctorate.
She ended our conversation by saying, “As long as I am climbing, I’m happy. It is challenging and super fun!”