Story Swap Preview: Kim Desrosiers

Kim Desrosiers is a Pennsylvania native, growing up in Red Hill and now living in Wayne. She loves going up to the Gunks for trad and New Hampshire for ice —her current focus, as well as being involved with the adaptive climbing community. You’ll also find her mountain biking (“I’m a terrible mountain biker who does not let her skills get in the way of her fun”), trail running, climbing trees, and meditating in the outdoors.

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What’s your swap story about?

My swap is a tale of spiritual high adventure, set in the Kailash Range of western Tibet, and a 33 mile circumambulation of Mount Kailash. This trek, which reaches 18,400 feet at the Drolma-la high pass, has been performed for thousands of years by Tibetan Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and Bonpos, and in 1926, Alice Ruttledge became the first western woman to complete it. This past June, I repeated Alice’s adventure, and along the way encountered cranky yaks (there are no other kind), sky burial sites, lakes and mountains of epic size and beauty, Yeti reports, a wandering yogi (being followed by a film crew), footprints in rock made, it is said, by way of the mind, and last, but not least, a journey into the nature of my own heart. 

On the Ridgeline summit of Pico de Orizaba.

How did you get introduced to climbing/ when did you start getting really into it?

In my early 20s, I backpacked in Olympic National Park, and along the way, saw for the first time people with ice axes and crampons attached to their packs. I didn’t know what they were doing, but I knew that one day I wanted to do it too. Fast forward 20 years, I traveled to the Himalayas for a Buddhist teaching with the Dalai Lama, where I met Jamyang, the owner of a rock gym in Leh (GraviT – check it out!). One day over lunch, I happened upon him climbing a tree. I told Jamyang that I had always wanted to climb, and when he asked me why I hadn’t learned yet, I had no reasonable answer. So, after returning home, I signed up at a local rock gym, found a trad guide who would work with me, and set a goal to lead by the end of the year. With the support of my two teenage boys, I met that goal, and others, including finally learning how to use those ice axes and crampons. (There is a Seattle Times article on how I learned to ice climb: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/outdoors/you-neednt-be-a-star-athlete-to-excel-at-methodical-sport-of-ice-climbing/)

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What are your future goals or big objectives?

 The only goal I currently have is to take what I have learned, about myself, and myself in the natural world, and look deeper.

 What is an interesting fact or something you would like people to know about you?

Meditation in nature is as much fun as climbing Three Pines – it’s true

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To hear more of Kim’s story, join us September 25th 6:30 pm at Azavea!