Since I was a kid, I've known I was meant to be a climber. At some point I realized, This is what I do—the same way musicians know they have to play. When I was little, my dad and I went to the coast on weekends to hike and scramble up trees. Since then, I've summited El Capitan in Yosemite, scaled boulders in southern India and grappled with Australia's Mount Arapiles. I climbed competitively from age 7 to 16, then gave that up. Competitions are always held indoors on artificial walls, which means practicing on them constantly, spending a lot of time inside. My heart wasn't in it.

So much of this sport is mental. People are distracted by fear; even I still get scared. Things can go wrong fast. I'll do a move and realize I can't reverse. But if you keep your emotions in check, you're able to see clearly and understand you're fine. You never master climbing—you can always be stronger, you can always be better, you can always be bolder.

I've done big wall climbing, where you spend multiple days on one rock face and sleep in a tent attached to the side. It's magical: You wake up hanging on a little ledge on the wall you're about to climb, watching the sun move across the mountains. Whenever I finish, I look around, feeling so lucky that I can see these gorgeous places—and that I found something that makes me feel this way.


Next Story