TEAMgirlcrushrock Athlete Bio: Samantha Cole

womens+rock+climbing+cothing© Jeff Cole

Tell us what climbing means to you?

While lying on a bamboo rug in an upstairs apartment in Kutching, Malaysia, I had a tattoo slowly engraved into the back of my neck with two bamboo sticks and a needle. The center is an eggplant flower. The artist who put this on me was Iban and in his tribe it means patience. The words surrounding the flower say ‘climb higher’ in Arabic representing an area that I was fortunate enough to enjoy many climbs in. Climbing has taught me patience, focus, and has allowed me to be happy in the simple moments of just touching the rock.

Do you clip bolts, plug cams, stack pads, or crush ice?

I learned to climb as a sport climber and enjoy that immensely. My husband prefers trad, and I have learned to love the adventure traditional climbing can have in store. Currently I teach for a school that values outdoor education and will be bouldering with my students this Friday; how lucky am I!

How’s the climbing and climbing scene in your local area?

My house is 10 minutes from some of the most beautiful basalt pillars one can find. I live in Boise, ID near the Black Cliffs where all levels of both sport and trad can be found. Luckily, our climbing is not as well known as other areas in the great Northwest (ie Yosemite, Red Rock Canyon, etc) so waiting for your climb is never a problem.

Where is your favorite place to climb in the world and why?

Hopefully I have not climbed there yet! Although I cannot wait to return to Maple Canyon in Utah. The steep conglomerate walls are too much fun and the leaves turning colors in the fall all around you is amazingly peaceful. Camping, streams, beauty, and definitely something different than you are used to.

Who do you usually climb with?

My husband, Jeff. He is an excellent and experienced climber. He is consistently calm, trustworthy, and always happy to be climbing. He is why we are such a good team.

What goes through your mind whilst you are on the rock?

Climbing allows me to put aside anything that is stressing me and focus on the task at hand. All I can thinking about is how sweaty my hands are, congratulating myself on a particularly nice move, or that hold was not nearly as awesome as I was hoping it was. These are wonderful things to be focused on! When I am at the top of any climb, I stop for a moment to take in my surroundings and smile.

Talk us through your most memorable ‘send’? We want all the beta!

It was last summer in Maple Canyon on the Engagement Alcove Wall. My partner had made it up about one third of the way when, after much lamenting and hang dogging, he gave in and I lowered him. I was excited to lead it for us. I magically found a hold he could not on the slopery mess that is conglomerate rock and smoothly made my way past his last quickdraw. I climbed quickly up the slightly negative wall until I made it to the last bolt, and the crux, before the anchors. My smooth transitions ran out along with my chalk. I clipped the bolt, pulled up the rope to clip, realized my hands were to sweaty, put the rope in my mouth, shakily switched hands, successfully ignored my belay as he yelled at me to just grab the draw, and secured my rope to the wall. I was able to climb the final meters without noticing how pumpy I was due to the inflation of my ego at this point. When I finally lowered off, my ego was quickly deflated as my partner told me I scared him to death, and he was now going to excuse himself to the bathroom since he was pretty sure he already went. I would definitely do that climb again.womens+rock+climbing+clothing© Jeff Cole

What was your most scary climbing experience?

My first multi pitch climb was in Ras Al Kaimah near absolutely nothing. I had just started seeing my now husband and he wanted to share an all day trad climbing adventure with me.

I wasn’t nervous at all because I knew I was in great hands. We had a locally written climbing guide and a fold out map of the whole country; we were as prepared as we ever are. We easily found the wall down the road from a goat farm in Ras Al Kamiah, ate our PB-n-J’s and located our four pitch trad climb called Shady Circus. Jeff had already taught me about climbing up to him on belay and he said it would just be that four times; I was so ready.

The first pitch was easier than I thought climbing should be, and I instantly felt full of self-assuredness. He taught me how to care for the rope at the second belay station and took some photos of me; I thought to myself how this wasn’t enough of an adventure. At the third belay station my camel pack ran out of water and I noticed it was getting a bit chilly. Jeff started to climb pausing for a moment to tell me he decided we were staying at the Hilton Resort tonight instead of camping because he hadn’t spent nearly as much money as he had thought he would. I love camping, but what girl doesn’t want to stay at a posh beach resort on the Arab Sea. I soon figured out that my new boyfriend uses tactics like this when something bad is about to happen and I just am not seeing it yet. It was pitch black with not even the moon to guide me by the time Jeff set the anchor. Of course the last pitch was also the hardest and as I began to make my first moves, my hand hold broke off taking forever to crash on the ground far below. I honestly wanted to cry. I had to stop and weigh my options. I soon realized I had no options and would be climbing with or without the tears, so I sucked it up and blindly made my way towards my belay.

Somewhere on this last pitch there is a perfectly good nut left for the taking as Jeff eventually told me to forget about it and just get up to him. When I made it over the edge, I felt such relief that the massive ordeal was finally over. In the end, the searching for the ‘walk off’, the waiting while cold, thirsty, and hungry, and the final sketchy descent were far more frightening than climbing on a rope in the dark could ever be. We stayed at the Cove Rotana; totally worth it.

When you are not climbing, what are you doing?

I teach math and science for Riverstone International School and love my students. I just got back from 6 days rowing the Main Salmon with my 7th graders, and treasure sharing the outdoors with them. River season has just ended and climbing season has now begun. Climbing is my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors; but skiing, paddling, and simply backpacking are not so bad as runner ups.

What are your climbing goals?

I have lovely daydreams of being an amazing 5.15 climber admired by all. In reality I just want to climb everywhere for as long as I live.

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