Kathleen is one of our presenters for this year's Story Swap. Kathleen is a caver turned climber currently living the good life in West Philly. While most of her focus these days is on developing on her trad skills, she enjoys project caving as well. When she's not on or under rocks, you can find her backpacking, paddling, biking, playing nerdy card games, or caring for the container garden/minor jungle at her apartment. Kathleen’s story is about her team’s expedition last winter to discover, survey, and map undocumented caves in Cambodia.
What do you do for a living?
I was working for a company that designed and implemented low income energy efficiency programs, but am now trying to get back into the sciences and put my geology degree to use in environmental remediation or consulting.
How did you get introduced to climbing?
After I moved back to Philadelphia about 4 years ago, one of my best friends took me climbing at a gym. She is 4’8”, and seeing the way she flew up the wall was so inspiring that I haven’t stopped since then.
What do you do when you’re not climbing?
Caving, backpacking, canoeing, biking, slacklining, gardening, word games, board games, cartwheels, dancing like a fool, trying to find the perfect yogurt
A rad accomplishment you’re proud of?
Being the pogo stick champ of the block at age 11-- I mean… being involved with some exciting cave diving expeditions requiring camping underground in one of the longest caves in the US.
What’s your story about?
My story is about my trip with 6 other PA cavers to document caves in Cambodia with the hope to publish and conserve some of the caves before they are destroyed by local mining companies. Caves in Cambodia have quite a number of challenges that differentiate them from caving in the states, a number of which are not simply the technical challenges of the cave itself.
A memorable part of the trip?
Surveying the largest bat cave--- where a population of 400,000 to 1,000,000(? Have to recheck my numbers) bats (and hundreds of thousands of cockroaches) reside. Locals farm the guano for fertilizer daily… it was actively raining shit, the workers were smart enough to wear ponchos.