Skip to main content

She was kidnapped but ‘embarrassed' to feel traumatized. Now, this climber is learning to be vulnerable

·2 mins

Weeks after an American climber was abducted by captors from an extremist group, she returned home haunted by nightmares of the ordeal. The climber, who was 20 at the time and highly regarded in her field, was taken hostage alongside her then boyfriend and two other climbers during a trip to Kyrgyzstan in 2000. They endured a six-day ordeal, surviving on minimal supplies as they were marched through harsh terrain. One of the captors regularly engaged in inappropriate behavior in close proximity to the female captive. The climbers managed to escape when their remaining guard was pushed off a cliff. Upon their return, the climber was disheartened by the reaction within the climbing community, where the harrowing experience was celebrated rather than addressed as a traumatic event. She struggled with the aftermath, including sleep problems and avoided seeking help due to the perception that fear was viewed as a weakness in the climbing world. However, as she grew older, she began to open up about her struggles, finding comfort in the support of others who had experienced similar challenges. She hopes that by sharing her story, she can shed light on the complex realities of human experiences. The climber discusses her journey and reflections on her past in her upcoming book. Despite achieving great success in her climbing career, she continually contended with the trauma she endured. The pressure to conform to certain body standards within the climbing community also contributed to her struggles with eating disorders and a negative self-image. However, she is optimistic about the changing culture within the climbing community and the growing acceptance of conversations around mental health, body image, and trauma. The climber acknowledges that healing from trauma is an ongoing process and hopes to inspire a more inclusive and supportive environment within the climbing community. Despite the challenges she has faced, her passion for climbing remains undiminished, and she aims to continue pursuing her love for the sport for many years to come.