Megan was a participant in our Winter 2019 Mentoring Program, in the Intro to Winter Mountaineering group. She grew up in Northeast Philly and currently lives in Fishtown. Megan works in the Data Analytics unit at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, which is the City’s child welfare agency, creating data reports and helps out on some research projects.
Could you tell us how you got into climbing?
I didn’t get into climbing and other outdoorsy activities until I was older. Growing up my world was pretty small and I didn’t know anyone into those things. Around my mid-twenties I got really into biking, hiking, and running. In 2015, a good friend of mine persuaded me to climb with him. He thought I’d be into it and he was right. I love being outdoors and physically challenging myself. I continuously learn that I’m capable of more than what I tend to think.
You were a mentee in our Winter Mountaineering Mentoring group. What made you decide on signing up for the mentoring program?
In 2018, I got an elbow injury that prevented me from sport climbing the way I like too. I needed something else to focus on that wouldn’t aggravate the injury. I was actually already looking into taking a mountaineering course when the AAC mentoring opportunity came up. When I saw what the initial trip ideas were, I knew I should sign up. Also, I’d participated in some other local AAC programs and events in the past and always had a great time.
Your mentoring group culminated with a trip to the White Mountains. How was that experience?
The group trip was incredible! We decided to climb the Central Gully on Mt. Washington, which is a mixed snow and ice climb in Huntington Ravine. The mentors were so helpful and supportive and I learned a lot. I’m actually struggling with answering this question because it’s hard to convey just how great the experience was. I’d never done anything like it before and it was super fun and thrilling.
What would you say was the best thing you learned from participating in the program?
I think the best thing I learned was that I’m capable of doing it, at least routes similar to the one we chose. I had a lot of self-doubt going into the trip and I knew that although the route was beginner friendly that it could still be dangerous. However, I pushed through the doubt and we safely completed our objective.
Also, prior to the program, mountaineering seemed inaccessible and unattainable. It felt overwhelming trying to get my foot in the door to get some experience. Since participating in the program it feels much more within reach. I’m really grateful to the AAC for providing these kind of opportunities. I’m actually planning to do an ascent of Mt. Washington next winter and possibly Mt. Baker in the Cascades next summer.
Do you have any advice for anyone who may be on the fence on considering being a mentee?
My advice is to do it! I was initially on the fence, but I knew I’d regret not doing it and I had nothing to lose by trying it. It really is a great opportunity to learn, gain more experience, and meet other people with similar interests.