Foxy Fridays: Haley Louise Allen

The first thing that you notice when you meet Haley is her smile. It radiates a warmth that is infectious.  She’s one of those people who lights up a room when she walks in.  It is hard to be upset or angry when around her because she has this way of making you happy with just a smile.

Haley is a flower child: she loves being outside.  She is a creative person, always seeing the beauty and art in the natural world.  This past spring we visited a cave along the Missouri river and explored the cave into it’s darkest depths.  At the very end of the cave where no light reached we turned off all the lights and just explored the darkness with our senses.  No matter how dark it gets though, Haley is always the light, glowing always like the sun.

Haley‘s main disciplines are pilates, yoga, meditation, and climbing.  She climbs like she is always going for the send.  She calmly works her way up the wall, her movements look effortlessHaley has taught me how to love my body and myself.  Eating and preparing good food, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and pilates have all now become a part of my life thanks to her.  So to you Haley, thank you!  The light in me honors and respects the light in you.

-Cory Knoblauch



Age: Just turned 21!

Location: Columbia, Missouri

Profession: Just graduated with a health science degree from Missouri University

Flash Foxy:When did you start climbing?
Haley Louis Allen: Climbing entered my life a little over two years ago, but it feels like it’s been in my life for forever. I’m about to celebrate my 21st birthday on Monday at Devils Head in Colorado. I’m going back because Crimpfest and I have some unfinished business, and because the area is perfectly secluded and overlooks Pike’s Peak (also known as the Sun Mountain).


FF: Where do you climb?
HLA: Most all my climbing is done around the mid Missouri area. I got into climbing my sophomore year of college because I started working at the University of Missouri rec center as a Pilates and yoga instructor and the climbers at Scrogg’s Peak always kind of interested me. I’d done it once at the very end of my freshman year, but didn’t get into it until I started meeting all the people in the club my sophomore year. The very first trip I went on was in Kentucky at the Red, and I decided to go solely based on the fact that I had one super cool friend who was going. By the end of the trip I had a whole handful of super cool friends! I’d never met so many people who loved nature the way I did and it was nice being around people who understood me and shared my values.


FF: Where did you grow up?
HLA: I grew up in a very suburban town in Edwardsville, IL where land is super flat and the only plant life I found was über well kept. Which is fine! All nature is important, but wild nature that we discover on outings seems more…personal because it is itself. It is not shaped for the intent of pleasing people. It is what it is.


FF: What made climbing stick?
HLA: These people understood me and this activity grounded me into nature more than anything else ever had. I’d done sports that took control and a strong mind body connection, i.e. dance, cheerleading and gymnastics, but none of them used nature to teach me movement. My favorite thing about climbing is looking up at a sport route and picturing my body moving the way the rock wants me to move. I know that as soon as I get on the route I will be fully captivated by nature’s puzzle.

Climbing is an art. Climbing teaches me about myself. Climbing shows me my reactions to fear, frustration, joy, excitement, anger, etc. I know myself at these intense  moments and I’m happy I brought on this new kind of awareness. This self awareness is something I actively practice in yoga, but in climbing half the work is done for me. Strong emotions come up and I need to identify them and see them so I can react to them in the best way. In other words I know how to react to feelings because of my yoga practice, but climbing delivers emotions very easily and I need to apply concepts from my yoga practice to respond appropriately.


FF: What are you up to this summer?
HLA: I just graduated college with a health science degree and I have the summer off before I start school for occupational therapy. One month of my summer is dedicated to climbing in Colorado and Utah, while the other will be spent in Asheville, North Carolina where I will be studying for my 200 hour yoga training.


FF: Tell us more about occupational therapy. What do you hope to do with your degree?
HLA: For me occupational therapy is an effective way to teach people about the mind body connection. This therapy focuses on a person’s occupation and life interest, by breaking down the movement involved in an occupation. When someone is limited in their mobility it is really important for them to have the ability to understand what movement means to them on an individual level. Everyone has different capabilities and I want to work with people with disabilities and help them discover the power their mind has over their body .

OT can easily be tied to climbing. Climbing, as many of us know, is the ultimate mind game. As climbers we need to be able to tell ourselves, “Yes! My body can do this.” As a lady climber it is sometimes easy for me to tell myself that something simply cannot be done because I am not strong enough or tall enough. Putting those barriers up, whether they come from society or whether they come from an injury, will hold us back.
When I receive my degree I might work with teams of recreational therapist and/or yoga therapists. If I work with recreational and/or yoga therapists I may be focusing mainly on preventative care for people with chronic disabilities. Often times they work in non-conventional settings, rope courses, water, outdoors, etc., to motivate people to move in a healthy way. Mostly this is just an idea based on what I’ve seen. I’m really waiting to see and learn more before I decide on anything.


FF: Why do you think it’s important to have a mind body connection in climbing?
HLA: There are no set formulas or rules to tune into the sensations from any one person’s body. Meditation and yoga (and even climbing!) are guides to help people tap into their own individual bodily sensations. In any practice it might almost be like we are observing ourselves in a 3rd-person point of view. For example, when I climb and apply this mind body connection idea, I not only label anger as anger, but I will identify it as a stranger might identify feelings they never felt. For me anger makes my stomach get tight, my breath get short, and occasionally provides me with images of smashing rock. These are things we often overlook, but really we should try to feel and simply observe. Distancing myself in this way will allow the unwanted emotions to pass by more easily. When I am on the rock I want to be fully mindful of the state of my being so I can move in the way the rock needs me to move. The rock is solid and unchangeable, while I need to be flexible and ever changing. This flexibility is much more challenging when I do not understand myself in the moment of the climb.


FF: Top three places you would like to climb and haven’t yet. Go!
HLA: Shoot! I was just at Indian Creek three days ago, and that has always been on my list! Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Shawangunks




FF: Great answers. Favorite climbing epic or story. Go!
HLA: A recent event that shows climbing can cure any ailment!
We we in Red River Gorge killing it at Road Side. After our day on the rock we decided to go for a peaceful hike to the Natural Bridge. The sun was setting, we were laughing, carrying on, having a ball and loving life. We made it to the top and, because of our joy, we stretched/ danced/ moved around all silly. I will admit now this is where I made my mistake.
Once we reached the bottom I realized I took my wallet and keys off to make some crazy moves and accidentally left them at the top of the bridge. I do these kinds of things every once and a while so no one was too worried. My friend and I simply jogged to the top while our two friends waited below. As we approached the bridge my friend suddenly stopped, bent down and picked something up. It was my drivers license! We looked around a bit more and saw all my cards that were in my wallet scattered around the ground. This is when a very strong unpleasant feeling overcame me and I charged the rest of the way up to the bridge. Whirling I looked around saw no sign of my wallet and keys and spotted two groups of people. There was one family of four and one group of five teenagers. I calmed myself down, threw on a decent smile and approached both groups. Neither party knew where the keys went.
At this point, we have no transportation to Miguels: all of our camping gear/ food/ headlamps is locked in my trunk, and it is getting dark. We assumed someone had chucked my keys off the bridge.
My friend and I confronted another group of hikers, but really we weren’t having much luck. We ended up crawling around the thick foliage (we were on spring break) looking for my keys. I was mid-crawl when I spotted a couple more hikers strolling pass. It was dark and hard to see, but when I got closer I found out they were people we knew from school!
We got a ride from these two kids, met up with the other people who were supposed to ride in my car, and asked the state ranger to break me into my car so we could get our stuff. That night I called my mother (thank goodness for moms!) and she sent a spare key so I could get back home to Columbia, MO. The key arrived the day before we left, and what could have been a not so fun trip, turned out to be a blast.
I still think fondly of the Red and even of the Natural Bridge incident. We had to break into my house too because my house keys had been attached to my car keys. I laced up my climbing shoes and my friend helped me get on the roof of my house (probably one of my scarier climbs because roof tiles are not so solid.Climbing helps just about everything. Happy ending to yet another climbing trip.

FF: Thanks Haley! Have fun this summer!

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