Sasha DiGiulian isn't your average climber. In fact, "average" wouldn't apply to any of her endeavors. Climbing since she was five years old, DiGiulian counts two Female Overall World Champion titles, three US National Championships and a 10-year span as undefeated Pan-American Champion among her myriad
In her 25 years in the sport, she's experienced just about every high and low available. In addition to her illustrious climbing career, she's also an activist, public speaker, volunteer and author, with her new book, Take the Lead, out this coming September.
I had the chance to speak with the multi-hyphenate athlete about her place in the sport, how she stays on top, the gear she counts on (and doesn't) and more.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Take the Lead touches on how you've dealt with the attention and being in a male-dominated sport as a woman. How has adversity affected you outside of rock climbing?
I love that question because climbing has really shaped my lessons in life, from a travel perspective to a confidence perspective to the business space. Learning how to set big audacious goals and knowing the work that goes into actually achieving them, and finding security in myself, which has been both rattled and secured within climbing and the industry. I've gone through really big ups and downs in my sport and from all of the ups and downs I'm super thankful for the lessons that I've learned.
Do you have a core group of people you climb with, whose habits and skill levels you're familiar with?
I'm very particular normally with who I climb with, because when you climb with someone, you're putting your life into each other's hands. And I guess in relation to the whole theme of reaching new heights, the best way that you can reach new heights is through trust and working together and confidence in your team and being able to decipher through what the fears that I have are in collaboration with the people that I'm with.
What efforts are you making to diversify climbing and bring more women and underrepresented folks in?
I think that representation really does matter and I'm privileged; I'll be the first to say that I grew up in a two-parent household with parents who supported my pursuit of my sport. A lot of people don't have that.
And I hope through my career and my work as a spokesperson, as someone who's gone through an immense amount of experiences within climbing, to speak to people around making climbing more inclusive. My hope is that people feel like they can start climbing at any age from any demographic or background and experience the sport in a really positive community approach.
There've been incredible moments for me within the community. There've also been really difficult moments, and a sense of not fitting in is something universal that no one really wants. And I just want there to be a culture in climbing where everyone feels like they have a space.
As the face of Juneberry, Red Bull's new summer flavor, do you have direct involvement in terms of the flavor or the story behind the product?
I didn't have a developmental role in the flavor. I will say it's really delicious. I'm excited because I think it'll be my go-to flavor to drink. I'm an OG Red Bull drinker too of just like the non-flavored, but the flavors are just so fun and new and fresh. The whole campaign around Juneberry is 'reaching new heights' and I think that relates within my direction as a climber from the obvious, you know, achieving heights, but also in regard to everything I try to represent and my career as a whole.
Did you drink it to prepare for this interview?
Shall I say yes? [laughs] I actually don't have it yet, but it comes out to Walmart [this week], so then I'll be drinking it.
Is there anything in your kit that is nontraditional, that you always have with you when you climb?
In my backpack, I carry a pink Buddha, so that's maybe nontraditional. For [traditional] gear, I've been really enjoying the Five Ten Hiangle Shoes for rock. They're really versatile. I use a Petzl Sitta harness, which is lightweight and I love it. It’s really durable. I've put it through a lot and I feel really safe in it.
Anything you consider overrated, that you don't necessarily subscribe to or bring along with you?
Ooh, that's a good question. Hmm. I don't think you need a personal anchor system in the gym. [laughs] I really don't.