Reaching Great Heights

Lizzy VanPatten, a climber and the founder of She Moves Mountains, discusses increasing outdoor access, pushing the boundaries, and why your choice of attire is so important.

When you picture the attire that a rock climber needs to wear, what do you see? If you imagine flowy, thin, minimal clothing to allow for movement, you are probably picturing the perfect setup for a warm day of climbing. But what happens when temperatures drop and the weather changes? That’s when your apparel becomes extra important, demanding a versatile, thermoregulating system. We recently partnered up with She Moves Mountains, for a climb in Moab, where part of their team tested the new PAKAFILL® Jacket to see how it accommodates technical athletes in varying environments.

Moab, Utah, is known as a climbing mecca in North America. The sandstone spires and splitter cracks are features that draw climbers from all around the world. She Moves Mountains took our new puffer to the red cliffs, which are also a place of extreme temperatures. In the summer, it’s not uncommon for the area to see 100-degree temperatures. The dry winters can be equally as startling for being cold and windy, which is why versatile outerwear is needed. Along with testing the jacket, we also sat down with Lizzy VanPatten, a climber and the founder of She Moves Mountains, to hear her story, discuss increasing outdoor access, and how she's pushing her own boundaries.

“It's such a powerful experience to stand on the top of a mountain and feel so tiny, but so capable. That is such a unique combination of experiences to have.” - Lizzy

“It's such a powerful experience to stand on the top of a mountain and feel so tiny, but so capable. That is such a unique combination of experiences to have.” - Lizzy

Finding yourself in nature

Listening to Lizzy talk about climbing ignites a sense of empowerment and rebellion – the two-ingredient recipe that She Moves Mountains, an outdoor educational organization, was built upon. She speaks candidly about how it all began: “I didn’t want to build a company, but I thought if I didn’t do it, maybe no one would. And I needed to share this feeling with other women." Lizzy may not have set out with the intention to start a movement, but she certainly has done just that. More women are now able to comfortably participate in climbing both locally and around the world, in the care of She Moves Mountains instructors. It’s clear that Lizzy’s passion has inspired others to seek freedom and community in the outdoors.

Lizzy first dreamed of supporting other female climbers about 6 years ago while she was working for a climbing company in 2016, where she was one of only two women guides out of 30+ guides at Smith Rock. When she suggested offering more women's clinics, her then-boss told her she’d have to create her own organization if she wanted to do more than two per year. At the time, Lizzy was devastated. She didn’t want to take hold of the reins, but she dug deep and, eventually, started She Moves Mountian in 2017, as a space for women-led summits. Over time, she has created an organization to change lives and expand our world’s capacity to care for the outdoors.

Increasing climbing access and stewardship

Today, Lizzy is committed to diversifying the outdoors by teaching people from all walks of life to love and protect nature: “By 2050, minorities will be the majority in America. Historically, the outdoors have not been accessible to everyone,” says Lizzy. One of the ways that she’s personally increasing access to the outdoors is by providing financial assistance. She Moves Mountains’ " Pay What You Can Program," is lowering the financial barrier and enabling individuals to participate in outdoor technical climbing, alongside peers, that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the gear, transportation, and education to do so. Spending time out in nature, climbing, is how Lizzy describes finding herself. Nothing was going to stop Lizzy from sharing that with others.

“Rock climbing is what allowed me to love myself, it was the first thing that made me feel powerful and made me feel beautiful and worthy, and it wasn’t because I could do it at this super high level; It was that it made me feel whole. Seeing what my body was capable of [doing] just taught me to appreciate myself and nature in a different way. So [now I’m] getting to share that with other people and just hoping that maybe someone who needed that could connect with nature in the same way,” says Lizzy.

Women who attend her clinics learn climbing skills and techniques while getting outside, and they leave more empowered. They also learn about safety and gear – something that can’t be overlooked. Having the proper gear and outerwear while climbing or participating in any outdoor recreation activity is crucial. While working on the jacket, this was our primary focus. We knew we needed to create something that encouraged and nurtured a connection to nature while enabling athletes to perform. That resulted in our thermoregulating insulation that accommodates a 60ºF comfort range of temperatures and conditions. When it comes to climbing, it’s designed to accommodate both the belayer, who’s standing in the cold shade, and the active athlete, who’s scaling a burly climb.

Part of your gear

When you’re rock climbing, you are extremely exposed to the elements, wind, hail, and snow. It can take minutes or even hours to descend to safety if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Staying warm from the elements is imperative; Lizzy describes the need for protection while climbing: “Not only is it necessary to prevent hypothermia, it’s also crucial to prevent potential distraction.” Not being comfortable or properly protected can cause anyone to lose focus and make an error. Your mind needs to be fully focused on the next hold ahead of you. And equipping yourself with the right apparel allows you to better focus on the climb. We’d reached out to Lizzy to test our new jacket, filled with Paka’s innovative alpaca fiber insulation. We built this jacket as an alternative to synthetic and down insulation and the most ethical choice for earth. We also built this jacket with adventure and outdoor enthusiasts in mind. The PAKAFILL® Puffer Jacket was made to:

• Wick moisture off your body: no shiver, no sweat (which can be deadly on mountains)
• Thermoregulate to keep mountaineers in a neutral comfort range
• Stay warm when wet (unlike down)

The new insulation within our lightweight puffer, from natural alpaca fiber, is not only warmer than any petroleum-based synthetic on the market, but it’s ethically sourced without harming any animals.

Pushing the boundaries

Lizzy said something during our conversation that really stood out: “If you can't find the culture … create it.” We’ve been following this mindset here at Paka since the beginning, whether it's spreading the love with a funny little alpaca named Sebastian, or supporting a regenerative system for farming while making our clothing pieces traceable. Innovation creates progress both culturally and within the manufacturing industry. And we’re so excited to increase the safety and comfort of outdoor enthusiasts like Lizzy with the new PAKAFILL® Jacket. If you’re interested in going on an adventure with She Moves Mountains, please don’t hesitate to reach out we’d love to connect you.

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