Jenn is an employee of the American Alpine Club who lives in Colorado, and travels the world for work and for her personal climbing goals. She is also an absolute crusher who has sent multiple 5.13 trad pitches, at times while runout over small gear. We are proud to have Jenn Flemming as a CAMP USA athlete, and recently tracked her down to find out about what gets her inspired.
I started climbing in the gym in Boston, MA during college. Within about five months I had abandoned plans to attend medical school and moved west to climb. Eight years later (I'm now 30) my passion for climbing has never wavered. I think one of the reasons I have stuck with climbing this long has been the incredible global community that exists at the heart of the climbing world. I have climbed in dozens of countries and have close friends all over the world as a result of this shared passion, and it is something that is so unique and special to our sport.
Some of my favorites routes are Fraid Line, Paris Girl, Rosy Crucifixion, and the Yellow Spur in Eldorado Canyon. Favorite trips include alpine climbing in Iran and Tajikistan, sandstone adventure climbing in Wadi Rum, Jordan, and riding the train across Russia by myself (not much climbing involved in the last one, but it was one of the coolest travel experiences of my life).
I am most passionate about traditional climbing and, specifically, trad climbing with small, finicky gear and distinct psychological challenges. I love that this discipline forces me to act outside of my comfort zone and to constantly push the limits of what I am physically and mentally capable of. One of the reasons I was first drawn to climbing was a desire to confront a fear of heights; managing fear in calculated ways has seemingly always been at the heart of what I enjoy most in the sport. What started as a fear of top roping has pushed me into a genre of R and X rated climbs that have taught me to make decisions and execute moves under real pressure. That is definitely what keeps me coming back for more.There are a lot of disciplines within the sport that I am absolutely mediocre at — bouldering, alpine climbing, etc. – but I honestly enjoy them all. I think that one of the most incredible aspects of climbing is how much humility it teaches you. Just when I think I am getting pretty rad, I go bouldering for an afternoon and am quickly reminded how much there is to learn and improve upon.
If something interests you, try it. It is so easy to get intensely focused on particular goals, or on improving at the discipline in which you excel. But technical competency across genres adds to your depth and skill set as a climber. I'd tell myself to do it all – sport climb, boulder, ice climb – as long as I was psyched. Oh, and campus.
Return to Iran to climb in the mountains with girl friends. Tick off a few routes around the Front Range that have been haunting (and eluding) me over the past few seasons. Spend lots of time in the desert. Go on an expedition and climb huge, granite walls in Baffin Island this summer. Read a lot of books. Campus.