September 15, 2015
It was the send heard ’round the climbing world. In 2011, Sasha DiGiulian topped Pure Imagination (5.14d) in Red River Gorge, making her the first–and still only–North American female and youngest woman ever to climb the difficult grade. Five months later, she finished Spain’s Era Vella (5.14d), solidifying her role as one of the sport’s best female climbers.
Since then, she’s added more than a few prestigious projects to her resume. In 2013, she won the women’s division of the first Psicobloc Masters Series deep-water soloing competition. That same year, she claimed the first ascent of Rolihlahla (5.14a), a line in Waterval Boven, South Africa, bolted in 2008 by Andrew Pedley. It was considered the hardest route in the climbing-heavy area (it has 450 sport routes and 150 trad) but remained unclimbed and unnamed until Sasha took it on. After her send, she christened the route with Nelson Mandela’s middle name in honor of its exotic locale.
Now, the 22-year-old petite powerhouse rocks walls the world over, most recently claiming the FFA of Viaje de Los Locos (8b+). You’re sure to find Sasha crushing hard at international comps and crags, where she pushes her limits on untested routes and serving as an athlete ambassador to youth- and outdoor-centric nonprofits. Back on earth, Sasha studies writing at Columbia University–but she lives for free time, beautiful weather, and fresh rock.
“Stressing out about trying to send a project feels inevitable, but when I can find that balance between trying hard and also letting myself go…is when I do my best climbing.”
Get inspired: we got ahold of Sasha to ask her what gear she finds essential for her boundary-pushing projects.
Sasha’s Gear Guide:
FAVORITE CRASH BAG?
Petzl and Krieg chalk bags. Petzl bags just fit great–you can seamlessly dip your hands in and out with barely any need to hesitate–and Krieg designs are unparalleled!
The Petzl Hirundos in bright orange is my go-to for big projects. It’s super lightweight, durable for fall after (frustrating) fall, and so breathable I can wear it all day, day after day. And the color just makes me happy.
FAVORITE CARABINER AND LOCKING CARABINER?
Any Petzl lightweight biner does the trick. You want carabiners where you can clip in and climb, no thought necessary, and Petzl’s are so smooth that I rarely fumble.
FAVORITE SET OF QUICKDRAWS?
Petzl Spirits. They provide jugs to grab when you’re in a pinch. Also, they’re not heavy at all (nice when you have a bunch clanging around on your harness) and super easy to clip, just like all Petzl biners.
FAVORITE BELAY DEVICE?
The Petzl Grigri 2, of course! Is there any other option? My belayers are solid, but the reassurance of the Grigri’s braking system gives me the confidence to climb harder knowing I’ve got a good catch below me.