You’re both a competitive climber and an avid outdoor climber. Do they fuel you/feed your soul in different ways?
Definitely! Competition climbing is great because it gives me a structured schedule for my training and events to look forward to. I find outdoor climbing to be a bit more low-stress, which is a nice alternative.
I try not to put a lot of pressure on myself to send. These days, a lot of times, my outdoor days are more focused on expanding my knowledge of technical skills of climbing outside (such as trad climbing, multi-pitch, and aid climbing).
You were slightly unsure if you wanted to do the whole college-thing, but ultimately decided to enroll at a school in Tucson, Arizona. How did you reach that decision?
I took a little but over a year off school to focus on my climbing career. In that time, I did a bit of traveling and eventually ended back up in my hometown, Tucson. My parents and many of my peers urged me to go to college and insisted I would like it. I suppose they were right—I’m pretty happy so far.
That’s great. Are you worried about not being able to climb as much?
Yes! I wasn’t at first, but I definitely have noticed over the past couple weeks that it will require a certain level of initiative and planning to ensure that I can balance school with training and outdoor training.
That must be an interesting balance. Do you feel that you’re a minority when it comes to being a 19-year-old climber? Or do you have a good amount of peers doing the same thing?
Not at all [a minority]. Over the past few years, participation in the sport has exploded. Some of the strongest women in the sport are in their late teens or early 20’s; Margo Hayes, Janja Garnbret, Megan Mascarenas, and Kyra Condie are all notable examples.
Speaking of explosions, you have a boat load of followers (almost 43k) on Instagram. Is it difficult to be an influencer on social media? If so, how? And how do you deal with any tribulations?
It’s sort of a little bit like a mini job. I can’t be inactive for a few days, because I have sponsors I need to make posts for, and I want to maintain engagement with my followers.
On the flip side, as you get more followers, you’ll get more haters. The best thing to do in these cases, of course, is to ignore them. I prefer to focus on the positive energy I get from interacting with my followers.
You mentioned that training is fun for you, and you wouldn’t train if it weren’t. What training tips can you offer to others to keep it fun and engaging?
Go in with a plan. I find that it is much easier to stay focused when I come to the gym with a plan of action for the day, written in my training journal. One benefit of having a training plan is you know what you’re going to do when you get to the gym.
Whenever I go in and try to make up my up my own workout on the spot, I lost motivation, focus, and don’t get nearly as much done as I would have if I had a written plan I knew I was going to stick to.
Another benefit of having a training journal is that you can go back and look at your previous workouts and see if you’ve improved, which can be motivating.
Also, make a climbing pump-up playlist! I wouldn’t be able to train without music to get me psyched.
That is all very helpful information. Who is your coach?
Kyle McFarland (Instagram: @crimponthis) from @WhitePineAthletics. I have been coached through White Pine Athletics for the past several months and have seen dramatic improvements in my climbing.
That’s what’s up. You mentioned that you’ve been hanging at numerous crags in AZ, but what projects are you working on in terms of media?
I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with video lately. (I edit nearly all of my videos on Instagram.) My dad and I recently got some new equipment, so we’re eager to get out and make more videos. We’ve made a number of gym videos in the past, so we’re excited to expand to doing more outdoor video.
Nice, I look forward to seeing whatever you two produce. What climbers do you have the utmost respect for?
Me too. Probably. Almost certainly. One more thing: your hair is awesome and almost always a different color. How do you decide what color you’re going to dye it? Does it have to do with your emotions or the weather?
Haha! Sometimes it has to do with my outfits. I got a really cool pair of blue pants and thought “I want my hair to match these.”
You’re rad. Thanks so much, Claire!
Follow Claire on Instagram: @claire.bukowski to stay up to date on her projects and evolution.