I grew up on Mercer Island, WA, just outside of Seattle, and spent summers exploring the rivers, coastlines, and mountains of the Pacific Northwest with my parents and two older sisters. After high school, I studied environmental engineering and product development at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and the successful completion of my Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. A month later, I moved to Albuquerque, NM to work as a mechanical and manufacturing engineer at a rapidly growing solar and LED lighting company. Within a year, the operation moved to L.A., and though I followed I was contemplating my “options” a few months into the move.
Life wasn’t all that bad, but after sprinting through high school and college straight into my career, I was feeling a bit burnt out on engineering, was unhappy with the city life in L.A., and couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I was missing out on something important.
So, I decided to quit, slashing my income and moving back to northern New Mexico, a place I had unexpectedly fallen in love with, to get some perspective and piece things together. Soon enough, what was going to be a quick summer “break” turned into a launching point for an entirely new direction in life. What, in all logical views, would have seemed like a massive destabilization of my life, felt like the most grounding action I could have taken: I saw I had a chance to live by my ideals, and I took it.
In the more than eight years since then, I have pursued white water rafting and river guiding, swift water rescue, rock climbing, alpine climbing, high angle rock and alpine rope rescue, technical glacier mountaineering, ice climbing, rock guiding and mountain guiding, ski patrol, wilderness and emergency medicine, mountain biking, back country skiing and ski mountaineering, and avalanche safety and rescue. Perhaps more importantly, I was introduced to a community of people who didn’t follow the traditional rules that I’d been exposed to, and all of a sudden I had the chance to reimagine what was possible and viable in life. I had found “my people” – who not only cherish the solitude of wild spaces but also viscerally need those landscapes in our souls to survive.
In the background, complementary to all of my zigs and zags, was the Ripple Effect. After working part time with Carolyn in New Mexico for a few years, I transitioned to full time seasonal work, mountain guiding in the PNW and working as an EMT for the Ski Santa Fe Ski Patrol in New Mexico, and Carolyn moved to Carbondale CO to launch the RE as we know it. Coming through Carbondale to say hi was always a highlight in my shoulder seasons, a way to earn some extra cash, to connect with community and keep my body strong and bulletproof. I became fascinated with the human body – its resilience, its capacity to adapt to different inputs, to heal and strengthen around injury sites and to unlearn and relearn movement patterns. In essence, I had found an intellectual match for my nerdy engineering brain – in biomechanics and exercise physiology – and I love that there is still so much for me to learn.
All of which is to say, of course, I eventually moved to Carbondale – to create more of a “home base” of sorts, training at RE and teaching and guiding in the mountains. I am constantly inspired by the people I work with, who try hard and push outside of their comfort zones and ultimately trust me to “keep them on the mountain.” I love the creativity that is required to train for mountain endeavors – be it professional or recreational – pulling across disciplines and developing unique tools and processes that meet the demands. There is no “one size fits all” approach, each individual body and mind is indeed different, requiring different challenges to create excellence and different motives to trigger that drive to “dig deep.”
In the mountains we often look for the “path of least resistance” – a line that flows with the landscape and just “fits.” Sometimes though, looks can be deceiving, and we can get off track. The path in front of us or above us may not be The Way. We may need to pivot, to go down, or backtrack, before going back up. To test suspicious looking rock, pull the big scary looking roof, stick a hand in a rose bush to stay on route. We also have to trust our belayer, even when we’re out of sight and neither party can hear each other. And, of course, we must earn their trust as well.
I believe in showing up, in working hard, in putting in not just sweat, but focused, detailed work. In the strength of community and partnerships, in trusting that you will have people to lean on when (not if) you need them, and in being that safety net for others. In lifting each other and ourselves up, because we are all only as strong as our weakest and most vulnerable link. In knowing that your crux may not be the same as mine, and that we all bring different strengths and weakness to the team. In staying vigilant, for complacency is what often leads to catastrophic failures.
So, in life as in the alpine, we trust our feet, and pull the scary moves, and dig deep, and learn that we can rely on ourselves and on each other.
Betsy’s Certifications and Courses:
StrongFirst Lifter Course (Barbell), StrongFirst Kettlebell Course, SFMA Level One, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Ripple Effect Fully Certified Instructor.
AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Certification, AMGA Rock Guide Course, AAA Pro 1 Certification, AIARE Level I/II/Instructor Certification, Wilderness First Responder, Rigging for Rescue Waterfall Ice Technician, Swift Water Rescue Technician, EMT-Basic.
Betsy’s Current work:
In addition to her work at Ripple Effect Training, Betsy teaches AIARE avalanche rescue and safety classes for Paragon Guides and Colorado Mountain College, runs trips domestically and internationally for International Mountain Guides, and teaches climbing and rock rescue for Colorado Mountain College. She also most recently helped Tanice Kitchener, DPT (Rocky Mountain Therapros) develop and launch her Blood Flow Restriction Training Program.
Betsy’s Stats (Gym)
Dead Lift 225#
Front Squat 135#
Back Squat 160#
Over Head Squat 80#
Bench Press 95#
30” Box Jump
Pull Ups 15, Single Rep Max @ +20#
Row 500m 1:48
Row 1000m 3:59
Row 2000m 8:11
AD 1:00 All Out 36cal
AirDyne 10:00 All Out 182cal
Power of Four SkiMo Race, Aspen CO
Expedition Leader, Cordillera Blanca, Peru:
Mount Pisco (Pisco Oeste), 18,871 ft, SW Ridge, Alpine PD+, 30°- 45°
Mount Ishinca, 18,200 ft, Normal Route, Alpine PD-
Expedition Leader, Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru:
Diablo Mudo, 17,552 ft, NW Ridge, Alpine PD, 45-55º, 5.6 rock
Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit, 80 miles @ 12,000-17,500 ft
Mount Rainier (14,410 ft), Washington, 40+ summits since 2014, via the Disappointment Cleaver, Kautz Ice Chute and Emmons Glacier Routes
Ski Descent, Emmons Glacier, Mount Rainier
Ski Ascent and Descent, Ski Hayden Peak (13,316 ft), Colorado
Ski Ascent and Descent, Mount Sopris (12,965 ft), Colorado
Castle Peak (14,279 ft), Colorado
Conundrum Peak (14,064 ft), Colorado
Middle Truchas Peak ski ascent and descent, Truchas Mountains, New Mexico
Expedition Guide, Aconcagua (22,837 ft), Argentina
Mount Baker (10,781 ft), Washington, ski ascent and descent via the Coleman-Deming Route
Mount Shuksan (9,131 ft), Washington, via the Sulphide Glacier Route
Little Tahoma (11,138 ft), Washington
Aguja Guillaumet, Argentina; via the Brenner-Moschioni Route (300m, 30º, 6b)
Mt. Tocllaraju (~19,790 ft), Peru, via the Northwest Ridge Route
Mt. Ishinca (~18,200 ft), Peru, ascended Northwest Ridge, descended Southwest Ridge
Mt. Urus (~17,900 ft), Peru, via the Normal Route
Grand Teton (13,770ft), multiple summits via the Owen Spaulding Route and Upper Exum Ridge
Garibaldi Neve Traverse with Clinker Peak Variation, 30 miles single push on skis, Coast Mountains, British Columbia
ROCK (Multi-pitch Traditional)
Bird on a Wire, 5.10, Joshua Tree, CA
Dappled Mare, 5.8, Joshua Tree, CA
Right On, 5.6, Joshua Tree, CA
Western Saga, 5.9, Joshua Tree, CA
Taliban Blues, 5.9-, Grade II, Hagermann Pass, CO
Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre, 5.8, Questa Dome, NM
Serpentine Crack, 5.8, Tres Piedras, NM
Casually Off Route, 5.9, Grade II, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, CO
Sifuentes Weber (5.9, Grade II, 100m), Aguja Frey, The Frey, Argentina
Naca Naca Crunch Crunch (5+, 120m), El Abuelo, The Frey, Argentina
Clemenso (5+, 150m), Torre Principal, The Frey, Argentina
Shiva la de los cuatro brazos, (5+, 100m), El Pirimidal, The Frey, Argentina
Diedro de Jim, 5+, Aguja Frey, The Frey, Argentina
South Face / South Sixshooter (5.7 Grade II), Indian Creek, Utah
Jah Man / Sister Superior (5.10c Grade II), Castle Valley, Utah
Angel’s Crest (5.10b, Grade IV), Squamish Chief, British Columbia
The Squamish Buttress-Butt Face Variation (5.9, Grade III), Squamish Chief, British Columbia
Holland-Davis Route (5.10c, 400′, Grade III), Index, Washington
Outer Space, 5.9, Grade III, Leavenworth, WA
Warpy Moople (5.9, 800′, Grade III), Sandia Crest, Sandia Mountains, New Mexico