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That’s what professional athlete Sasha DiGiulian values — and that’s what climbing offers. It’s her escape from the everyday; her break from modern life. It also happens to be something she’s better at than, oh, just about anyone in the world.
From an early age, Sasha was no stranger to competition in sports. A skier since the age of three, she quickly adopted a smattering of other sports activities, including competitive figure skating. But something soon upended all her other pursuits.
Attending her brother’s birthday party at a local gym when she was still only six, Sasha was magnetically drawn to the climbing wall. She took to it like a true natural, instantly showing off an aptitude that rivaled the best the boys had to offer.
Climbing swiftly took over her life in the best way possible, and her interest in other sports … well, if fell right off a cliff, frankly. She wasted no time in making her mark, winning her first Junior Continental Championships at 11.
A Student of the Sport
Even as she studied the art of climbing, Sasha never neglected the classroom. Her professional ascension in the sport occurred in tandem with her studies at Columbia University, where she majored in nonfiction writing and business. She took classes during the weekdays and traveled on the weekends to pursue her passion for adventure, typically studying Monday until Thursday and traveling Thursday through Sunday. For most, that’s simply too much, yet Sasha made it work.
While still a student at Columbia in August of 2015, then-22-year-old Sasha became the first woman (and only the third person in the world at the time) to climb Magic Mushroom, the North Face of the Eiger Mountain in the Swiss Alps. Dubbed “Murder Wall” due to its insanely difficult and dangerous structure, her feat in overcoming the mountain’s face became one in a wickedly long list of career accomplishments.
A New Standard
Now a three-time U.S. National Champion and two-time World Champion (2011 and 2015) — not to mention a Columbia graduate — Sasha has set a new standard not only for women in the sport but men, too. With more than a dozen first ascents around the world, she’s now one of the foremost names in climbing … and it seems she’s still only warming up.
With a career like Sasha’s, it’s difficult to list every major accomplishment, but here’s a snapshot of her success:
Undefeated Pan-American Champion (2004 to 2014)
First North American woman to climb the grade 9a, 5.14d (at only 19 in Margalef, Spain)
Named one of GLAMOUR magazine's Top College Women of the Year (2016)
First female ascent of Big Wall in Madagascar, Mora Mora (2017)
More than 30 first female ascents around the world
Awarded the Arco Rock Legend Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Outdoors
Honored with the Golden Piton Award
Published in National Geographic, SELF, Seventeen, Rock and Ice, and CRAVE, among others
Producer/director of The Trilogy
Served on the Board of the Women's Sports Foundation
Oh, and somehow, in her “spare time,” Sasha is even the founder and CEO of Send Bars, an organic + vegan + gluten-free protein bar/superfood.
Living Free, Living Forward
Climbing is more than a sport to Sasha. It’s a lifestyle — a way of breaking free and pushing herself to all-new heights, literally and figuratively. As she says on her YouTube channel, “climbing isn’t in competition with anyone else but yourself.”
Knowing you’re your own biggest and best competition and embracing that challenge, every day — we can’t think of a finer example of Living Forward.