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On The Road with Angie Payne

On The Road with Angie Payne
November 21, 2011 -  Nancy Prichard-Bouchard    

Angie Payne helped to reinvent and reinvigorate women’s climbing. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Angie began climbing indoors at the age of eleven.  She moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2003 to attend the University of Colorado. Her tenure in one of the world’s top climbing destinations paid off—not only did she excel at her studies, but also won three ABS National Championships and two PCA competitions in the 2003-2004 season.  Over the next four years, she added 8 top three finishes to her competitive bouldering resume.  In 2011, she won the EMS Pro in Central Park, the North Face Open at the Nor'Easter and the Canadian Bouldering Nationals.  Additionally, she has chalked up the first female ascents of 25 problems V9-V13.  After climbing European Human Being V12 and No More Greener Grasses V12, she completed The Automator and became the first woman in the world to climb a confirmed V13.   In addition to climbing, she works as a veterinary assistant at a small animal clinic in Boulder and volunteers at two horse rescue organizations.


1.     Why climbing?

Climbing was one of the few sports I seemed to catch onto quickly when I was 11. After trying just about every sport in the book, I felt like climbing was something I was naturally good at, and I loved that.

2.     What were the options?

The sports I tried before finding climbing at the age of 11 included: soccer, karate, swimming, diving, basketball, softball, football, tennis, dance and golf. I wasn't very good at any of them, but luckily I found climbing.

3.     Climbing is hard. Why do you like it?

For that reason exactly. I love climbing because it allows me to set goals for myself and work towards eventually achieving them, but never stops providing a certain level of frustration and motivation to work harder. Climbing never fails to humble me, and I love that about it.

4.     What is your scariest moment climbing?

Probably climbing the desert tower Ancient Arts, or attempting to climb it. A fast-moving storm forced a speedy retreat from the last pitch, and I found myself frozen with fear in the middle of the rock "sidewalk." I'm not the bravest.

5.     Are there challenges being a climber-girl?

I think the biggest challenge is to not impose limitations on myself just because I'm a woman. For example, it would be easier for me to go out and climb a V11, which is still recognized as hard based on the standards of women's bouldering, than it would for me to go out and try a V14 and possible never do it. It is tempting to do that something that is "good for a woman" instead of trying to push my personal limit and potentially the limit of women's bouldering. In that way, I sometimes impose gender-based limitations on myself without always realizing it.

6.     Words of Advice?

Don't lose perspective. Remember the big picture.

7.     Best climbing memory?

There are too many to pick just one, but a recent great memory is climbing in finals of the World Cup in Vail in front of an incredibly enthusiastic and motivating crowd.


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