Hi! We are Katie and Rachel, two professional climbers from opposite sides of the world, who have been traveling together for the past two summers on the IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup Circuit. You might even recognize us from our first Mizu mission last summer! As climbers who are both passionate about the outdoors, traveling and adventuring sustainably are really important to us, so when our 2023 trip rolled around, we knew we wanted to jump on board for another mission and keep spreading the word.



Katie - 40, Southern California:

I am a climber and photographer/filmmaker based out of Los Angeles, where I live part time on my sailboat. I love being outdoors in any capacity and am so lucky that work and climbing take me to so many amazing places. Since 2018, I have been photographing IFSC World Cup and World Championship events, focusing mostly on paraclimbing events, which is how I came to meet Rachel. 

Rachel - 40, New Zealand:

I am a competitive paraclimber from New Zealand. I am also a public speaker, and most importantly, a mum of three amazing kids!  I compete in the AL2 category in paraclimbing, which is the category for lower limb differences/amputations. My first IFSC event was the 2018 World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, where I briefly met Katie for the first time. A few years later, in true pandemic fashion, we became friends online and finally got to meet in person in May, 2022 when we began traveling the World Cup Circuit together as a competitor and photographer respectively. 


Our 2022 mission spanned two months, three world cup competitions and six countries!  Along the way, Katie was also filming Rachel as part of her first documentary, hoping to bring awareness to paraclimbing, as well as the amazing way climbing has positively impacted both of our mental health.  The film would follow Rachel through the competition circuit for two years, wrapping up at the biennial World Championships in Bern Switzerland, in August 2023.



Our 2023 mission began in May, in Salt Lake City, Utah. We spent nearly three weeks here, training at the gym and climbing outside as much as possible.  Rachel was preparing for the first world cup of the season, while Katie was focusing on filming and also training for some outdoor climbing projects later in the summer. While in Utah, we got to visit some amazing areas, such as American Fork Canyon, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and Joe’s Valley for some bouldering.  



It was an amazing start to the trip and we were both so excited to reunite with one another and the paraclimbing community.  Our time in Salt Lake culminated with the first Paraclimbing World Cup of the season, where Rachel took fifth place, narrowly missing finals due to a three way tie.  With World Championships right around the corner, the competition and the route setting were more challenging than ever.  There were 114 athletes in attendance from 18 countries and it was very cool to witness just how much the sport of paraclimbing has been growing in recent years. 



Our mission would next take us to Innsbruck, Austria for two weeks of training at the world class facility, Kletterzentrum Innsbruck.  Here, Rachel could get experience on tall climbing walls and competition route setting before World Champs. This location was also great for Katie to start tackling some outdoor climbing goals, and she would spend this time trying some of her hardest climbs to date around Innsbruck, as well as the Dolomites in Italy. This area of the world holds a special place in both of our hearts, and we really enjoyed this portion of the trip, not only for the climbing, but for the beautiful architecture, incredible views, and of course the amazing coffee!  


After Innsbruck, it was finally time!  We headed to Bern, Switzerland for the 2023 World Championships. Two years of training, traveling, filming, and preparation would all come down to three last climbs. 

The energy in Bern was electric! 42,000 spectators attended the competition, which would span nearly two weeks, featuring bouldering, sport climbing, speed climbing, and paraclimbing. The paraclimbing competition boasted the largest attendance on record, with over 203 competitors!

We both knew the competition would be fierce, and after Rachel’s first qualifying route, the nerves were high. Once again, she found herself in a three way tie, with the possibility of being knocked out of finals. But Katie says that the instant she saw Rachel walk on stage for her second qualifying route, she just knew! 

“Rachel’s smile lit up the arena and I could tell that she was just having the time of her life. She climbed beautifully, flowing through the route and surpassing the competitors she had been tied with. Knowing she had just made finals, we both cried the instant Rachel came down from that climb.”



Two days later, Rachel would go on to win a bronze medal, becoming the first person in New Zealand history to ever win a World Championship medal in climbing.  It was such an incredibly special moment! 

After two summers of traveling together, it was hard to believe we had actually done it.  Rachel was bringing home a medal to her kids, and Katie was taking home way too much film footage to begin editing her first documentary!  It was the culmination of so many big goals and we were so grateful for everything we learned along the way, the most important being a willingness to try new things, and to never give up on yourself and your dreams. It is definitely daunting jumping into something completely new and different the way we did, but it’s also such a great way to learn and grow, and you never know where the adventure could lead! 



We could not have accomplished our goals alone and we are so grateful for the support we received along the way, including that of Mizu. Traveling does create a large footprint, so it was important to both of us, to do this journey as sustainably as possible. Bringing reusable items, such as grocery bags, straws, water bottles, and cutlery were key for us while traveling. Rachel’s favorite Mizu product this year was the insulated V7, as it was great for keeping her coffee hot and her smoothies cold!  For Katie it was a toss up between the urban cutlery set, which she kept on her at all times for eating on the go, and the adventure water filter for long days out climbing.



A few other things you can do to be more sustainable while traveling are choosing flights that offset carbon emissions, and walking, biking, or taking public transport as much as possible.  Though we often needed a vehicle for mobility reasons, we always made sure to carpool with other athletes.  Buying locally raised food from farmers markets and stalls is a great way to reduce packaging and limit impact as well. Besides that, make sure to always pack it in and pack it out, and practice your leave no trace ethics. Let’s leave our outdoor spaces beautiful for the next person to enjoy! 


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