Coach Carolyn Parker is a life-long climber, skier, trail runner, cyclist and mountain guide who has made the successful transition into full time coaching work.
Carolyn owns and runs Ripple Effect Training in Carbondale, Colorado, where she shares her expertise in strength training, injury recovery and muscular conditioning with hundreds of mountain athletes. Her goal is to be a catalyst for positive change—from the individual outward.
From Carolyn ~ I was a collegiate cyclist, backcountry tele-skier and runner, when at the age of 20 I was exposed to the world of climbing in a college course. There it was, the thing that asked enough of me mentally and physically to satisfy the risk-taker, the scholar, and the athlete. For decades my obsession was climbing—traditional climbing, long days in the mountains, alpine climbing, ice climbing. It fed my soul, as did learning my craft as a guide through my mentors and the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA).
As I progressed as a climber and guide, I wanted to perform better on the hard trad, mixed, and high-altitude climbs I was drawn to. There weren’t a lot of female climbers or guides back then (there still aren’t), nor were there a lot of women in the world of ice and trad climbing. There also weren’t many of us focused on “training” specifically for sport performance, so I had to figure out how to train myself. To that end, I was fortunate to have a lot of really incredible mentors and close friends willing to help me along the way. Every ounce of knowledge I have has come from hard work, studying the science, dedication, focus, practice, patience, and this exceptional community, which now folds in Scott Johnston, the guru of all that is endurance training and his mission with his team at Evoke Endurance.
From college through my guiding days, I was always pushing. Hard high-altitude rock pitches; guiding from South America to the Alps, then Nepal; Ice pitches, Alpine climbing, long endurance runs, living on the road—it all took its toll, and I began manifesting imbalance injuries. No major injuries, but injuries I had to fix. Sustaining my body launched me down a path of deeper understanding beyond just the science of training, periodization, loads, and training cycles. I learned about balance, health, and wellness—how to support the body to keep doing these intensive sports. I absorbed everything I could on structural alignment, mobility, massage, yoga, nutrition, Ayurvedic science, and Eastern medicine. I trained, traveled, learned, read, experimented, fixed my sport-driven imbalances. I followed my passion for teaching, guiding, training, pushing, and helping others. That was and is my life.
As a coach, I will give you the best I can on any given day. I can’t do the work for you, but I will encourage you, I will teach you, and I will pick you up emotionally when you’re feeling down. I’ll bring things into perspective, I will always be honest especially when it matters most, bring you back from an injury—you name it. I will stop the world if I have to. Most of the time that is what you need from a coach: knowing that person has your back. You can have all the science in the world and not be a good coach; you need a lot of heart.
“The focus of my work and my life is to engage others in activities that create positive self change, to inspire, mentor, motivate, encourage, educate, and if that means changing the world one person at a time, so be it. I derive the deepest satisfaction from seeing others succeed, however I will be the first to tell you it is not just about being faster or stronger – it is about being a more conscious human.”
Carolyn’s proudest accomplishments (plucked from her many accomplishments):
Redpointing my first high-altitude 5.12 trad route (Autumn Ivy, Sandia Mountain Wilderness, New Mexico).
Making the first ascent of The Promise Land (VI 5.12c) in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness at 10,000 feet—my first grade VI, FA.
Being a climber and the Trip Sponsorship Coordinator for the American Makalu Expedition in 2001—my first 8,000-meter peak expedition.
Sending Sisters of Mercy (M8) at Ouray Ice Park—my first M8.
Climbing Iron Hawk (VI 5.9, A4+) on El Capitan in Yosemite—my first El Cap route.
Coming in first in women at the 1994 Sandia Crossing Marathon—my first mountain “ultra” marathon.
Being one of the first handful of Women in the guiding industry to attain an AMGA guide certification.
A successful guiding career, bringing hundred of climbers safely up and down numerous peaks, rock formations and ice climbs world wide.
Mentoring and Leading women through my “Climb Like A Girl” program for over a decade.
Being an entrepreneur and successfully building a flourishing athlete training business that gives back to the community.
Catching my first wave when I learned to surf at age 40.
And catching my first fish, when I learned to fly fish at age 50.
And Still going Strong!
And at 54 – 2023 with 36 years and going in the training/guiding industry I will continue to bring my best forward to help all my athletes thrive!
“To reach beyond what you are you must ignore the rules and fashions of the day. Or perhaps better yet cast them way out in your peripheral vision where you can still see them but only as a vague reference point. This doesn’t mean that all the rules are gone. It might mean that you adopt a far tighter code of conduct to ensure the necessary level of intensity and adventure.”