Cypher Ambassador - Fallon Rowe
Fallon Rowe is the newest member of the Cypher Ambassador team. Follow along to see where her obsession for climbing takes her next.
I claim the entire West as my home. I started rock climbing in December 2003, and it’s been an obsession ever since. I grew up on various climbing teams in the Boise, ID area, and competed through USA Climbing from 2004 to 2014. As soon as I got my driver’s license, I began climbing outside more seriously. I come from a beauty pageant family of 4 girls—I’m definitely the black sheep since I’m the “hippie climber sister”! For the last few years, I’ve mostly lived in northern UT to attend Utah State University as a Geology student and researcher. I lived in Boulder, Colorado for 4 months as a science teacher, and that’s where I learned how to trad climb. I’m back in Utah now with a current focus on maximizing time spent climbing, and working just enough to scrape by as a climbing dirtbag.
What was your first experience climbing?
Technically, my first experience climbing was playing on huge granite boulders in my friend’s neighborhood when I was a toddler living in McCall, Idaho. At age 6, I took an indoor rock climbing camp at the Boise, Idaho YMCA, and immediately fell in love with it. I joined their competitive team a few months later, and never looked back.
What is your favorite type of climbing?
I consider myself an all-around climber, and every style offers me something unique. If I must choose one, it would be trad climbing. When I was a little kid, I never thought I’d be able to trad climb because of the barriers of expense and technical knowledge. Seeing myself as more than a gym rat was tough back then. Even though I trad climb all the time now, it still feels like a dream come true on every pitch. It’s opened so many doors for me since I’m no longer limited to just clipping bolts. I still love the focus on movement and strength in sport climbing, but it doesn’t rival the amazing views and rewarding experiences I’ve had trad/alpine climbing.
Any style of climbing that you particularly dislike?
I don’t think I wholly dislike any type of climbing! Bouldering makes me the most frustrated generally. It’s a fun challenge and great training, but I don’t think I have the patience for projecting most problems. I prefer long days in the mountains covering lots of terrain, rather than staring at 15 feet of slopers for hours on end.
Where are your favorite areas to climb?
Zion National Park is starting to feel like home to me. It’s enchanting to be on steep sandstone walls over lush green canyons climbing classic splitter crack multi-pitch routes. It doesn’t get much better than that! I also love all the climbing near Moab, UT, plus City of Rocks (ID), Little Cottonwood Canyon (UT), Eldorado Canyon (CO), and Rocky Mountain National Park (CO).
Tell us about your all-time favorite climb.
“Fine Jade” on The Rectory was my first route up a desert tower, and out of 14 years of climbing, it stands out as my favorite. The climb is located in Castle Valley near Moab, UT, next to the famous Castleton Tower. The climb is a 4-pitch, 5.11 finger crack that splits a sandstone face on the tower. It was one of the first climbs I did with Douglas, my boyfriend, and we had a blast together. I’d only been trad climbing for 4 months at the time, and it was one of the first crack climbs I’d ever done. The climbing was strenuous and classic. Castle Valley is a gorgeous spot for climbing, with views of the La Sal mountains and endless red rock formations in every direction. Doug and I were high on the desert, howling at the sun, at the rock, at this magical life. We summited around sunset under a fiery orange and pink sky, with ravens swooping in dramatic dives among the cliffs.
Why do you climb?
To paraphrase Warren Harding: “Because I’m insane!” To quote Steph Davis: “I found myself unable to step off the path once I’d stepped onto it. It was almost as if I didn’t have a choice.” I truly don’t have a choice; climbing is as much a part of me as my lungs and heart. I feel utterly directionless without it. I agree with Marcus Aurelius about essentially being true to your nature; when you find your niche in the world—the thing that makes you happy to be alive—you must pursue it relentlessly. Climbing gives that to me, and lights up my soul.
I get to trespass into the vertical realm due to some unspoken privilege of exploration, granted to me, a restless, driven, wild, Western girl obsessed with rocks. Every day, I feel an irresistible pull to be high up on some cliff above pristine wilderness, testing my limits and enjoying the full-body experience. Climbing demands my focus. It forces me to feel the moment, to be completely immersed in the movement, the risk, the gear, the rock, the wind, and the sun. The relationships I’ve forged through climbing are the most meaningful to me, especially with Doug, my boyfriend.
I am thoroughly bored with the ‘real’ world, and reject societal standards for ‘regular’ life (it’s all a sham, in my opinion). I think people live in their tiny bubble of comfort, cluelessly missing out on the most exciting and rich experiences of life, held back by fear, just to die full of regrets after doing nothing more than paying their bills. It’s all bullshit. Life is remarkably short, particularly when viewed from my geologic perspective, and it gives me a sense of urgency to climb as much as I can while wandering around this little planet.
What other hobbies/interests do you have?
Geology is my second love (after climbing, of course). It was a natural progression for me as a child of the mountains to foster a curiosity for my wild surroundings. I always asked endless questions about the natural world, and I’d stare at cliffs and wonder about their formation. At USU, I’ve been involved with lots of exciting geology research, and recently co-authored a scientific paper for the journal Lithosphere.
When I was in high school, I was really into ‘highpointing’, which is the niche hobby where you climb the highest mountain in every U.S. state. My mom and I completed 49 of the 50 state highpoints from 2011 to 2014, including Gannett Peak (WY), Mt Rainier (WA), Mt Hood (OR), and Granite Peak (MT). These early experiences in mountaineering, backpacking, and road-tripping provided an outstanding foundation for me as an outdoorswoman. I also had the opportunity to star in a documentary (American Highpoints) when I climbed Gannett Peak. The film has recently aired on PBS and won various film festival awards.
Which 3 emojis describe you best?
1) The “rock on” hand emoji. When I’m feeling silly before a climb, I’ll say, “Ready to rock ‘n’ roll!” Also, I’m usually just super amped to be outside.
2) The monkey covering its eyes. I do lots of cringe-worthy, embarrassing things, and I’m totally a klutz. I identify on a personal level with that monkey.
3) The microscope. #nerdalert
Who inspires you?
To me, Mike Libecki is undeniably the most inspiring person and climber. He is perpetually stoked out of his mind, and his expeditions are absolutely incredible. I want to climb around the world and put up wild first ascents like him! I’m always quoting his catch phrases, like “The time is now! Sweetness of life! Why ration passion?!” He’s the king of suffering and he does it with a smile, writing it off as “pre-joy.”
Steph Davis and Emily Harrington are my chief female role models in climbing. They are both outstanding all-around climbers, and super lovable characters in their communities. Steph and Emily seem to be deeply genuine, and comfortable being their quirky selves while totally crushing some of the hardest climbing on earth.
Tell us about your dream vacation.
My dream vacation would be to never come home! I would travel and climb endlessly until I died. (Trying to make that a reality right now, though. Ha!) On the climbing itinerary: Yosemite, the Bugaboos, the Diamond, Denali, Crackhouse, Kalymnos, Rocklands, El Potrero Chico, Torres del Paine, Magic Wood, Getu, the Alps, the Dolomites, Grampians… anywhere and everywhere, all styles of climbing. Beyond climbing, the dream vacation would have to include my boyfriend, lots of chocolate, no rainstorms, meeting Steph Davis, and listening to live music native to each country.
Favorite post-send meal.
The bison burger from Boise Fry Company, with a side of purple fries and garlic aioli fry sauce. Oh, and a chocolate milkshake.
What are your long-term climbing goals?
I aspire to be a true all-around climber. I want to be able to say an enthusiastic “YES!” to the majority of climbing objectives. My goals include climbing El Cap, bouldering double-digits, sport climbing 5.13, putting up first ascents, learning how to ice climb, and summiting Fitz Roy, Denali, and many other classic peaks. I also would like to be the first person to climb the highpoint of all the U.S. National Parks (I have 11 of 59 summits so far), but rock climbing is definitely more of a priority than highpointing.
Anything else that you think your fans should know?
Climb more. Read more. Love more. No excuses.
“If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.” –Charles Bukowski
Follow Fallon's adventures on instagram @fallonclimbs