ATHLETES + INSTRUCTORS


ATHLETES

ABBY DIONE
Abby is the proud owner of the Coral Cliffs Climbing Gym in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was recently featured in ESSENCE and The Read Podcast with over 10 years of experience, Abby has led in sharing her own love of climbing and developing a strong group of adult and youth crushers in the south. Abby’s a badass sport climber, USA Climbing Coach, AMGA certified climber and she’ll teach you the ropes during her clinic! Haven’t pushed your climbing limits before, have no fear; Abby’s a pro.

ALEXIS KRAUSS
Alexis Krauss is a singer, songwriter and front-woman of the band, Sleigh Bells. She is co-founder of Beauty Lies Truth, a website dedicated to educating consumers about the ingredients in personal care products and promoting sustainable and non-toxic skincare. After completing Teach for America, and meeting her bandmate Derek Miller, she began her career as a full-time musician. A long time lover of the outdoors, Alexis is a Senior Guide for Discover Outdoors and a Wilderness First Responder. An avid rock climber, she’s recently combined her passion for climbing with outdoor education and helped launched the Young Women Who Crush mentorship program in partnership with the Discover Outdoors Foundation and the Cliffs at LIC. She’s currently fighting to protect public lands in Utah with the Our Land project and has raised thousands of dollars in support of Utah Diné Bikéyah a Native American organization at the forefront of the effort to save Bears Ears.

BRITTANY DAVIS
Brittany Rae Davis has spent over a decade climbing in crags all over the Southeast. She is a routesetter, coach, and competitive paraclimber following an accident in 2017 that left her partially paralyzed. Her circumstance doesn’t stop her from competing around the world, spending her weekends in the mountains, or spreading the knowledge she has of climbing, movement, and mental strategies to the newer generations of climbing phenoms.

BRITTANY LEAVITT
Brittany has spent the last five years making  Impetuous stride towards leading and teaching others the enjoyment of the outdoors, while also helping guiding and promoting the importance of Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the outdoors. While part taking in affinity groups organizations and groups like Outdoor Afro, Brown Girls Climb, and REI. Brittany’s most recent adventure was being able to be a part of the first African-American led team to Kilimanjaro. She has also taken on a bigger role in the People of Color led climbing festival Color the Crag as the Director of Operations. When Brittany is not climbing on rocks our backpacking through the mountains, she spends her time as a preschool teacher for the Smithsonian.

JESSA GOEBEL
Raised in North Carolina, Jessa started climbing in the gym at the age of 9. Soon after, she was competing on a national and international level, climbing outside on weekends and breaks from school. By the end of high school, competition became less of a priority as climbing outside became more of a priority. Her focus would be turned to boulder problems and traditional lines in the Southeast. Currently all Jessa’s efforts are toward taking 20+ years of skill and experience into the mountains. At the moment she resides in Fayetteville, West Virginia, within walking distance of the New River Gorge and works as a sales rep and athlete in the outdoor industry.

NINA WILLIAMS
Nina Williams is a professional climber originally from Rhode Island, USA. She began her career at the age of 12 in the gym, training with a team and competing on a local and national level. She loved the outdoor climbing of New England but eventually moved West in her early twenties.
Nina spent 8 years in Colorado focusing on bouldering competitions and expanding her outdoor resume. She trained in the gym while making numerous visits to Joe’s Valley and Hueco, as well as several trips to Rocklands in South Africa. After sending her first V13, Ray of Light, Nina shifted her attention towards the mental aspects of climbing. She explored 30-50ft highball bouldering with ascents such as Footprints (V9), Evilution Direct (V11), Ambrosia (V11), and Too Big to Flail (V10) in Bishop, CA. She also expanded into traditional climbing after her first visit to Yosemite, testing herself on The Final Frontier (5.13b) on Fifi Buttress and Father Time (5.13b) on Middle Cathedral.
She is based out of Boulder, CO where she seeks a balance between hard bouldering, alpine trad, training, and coaching. When she’s not climbing she enjoys a good cup of coffee and hanging out with her hedgehog, Ms. Frankie Von Quillsbury.

FACILITATORS

ANDREA HASSLER
Andrea Hassler has worked in climbing conservation since she began climbing in 2010. Since then, she has worked for environmental stewardship non-profits and local climbing organizations in Colorado and Tennessee as a crew member, field instructor, program coordinator, and environmental educator. She spent two years on the road with the Access Fund – Jeep Conservation Team National working to plan, coordinate,and implement climbing conservation projects across the country and educating climbers on low impact practices. She has worked on service projects with the Flash Foxy Festival in Bishop and Chattanooga as well as authored several articles on outdoor recreation stewardship. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, working to protect access to climbing in the Southeast. She lives in Chattanooga, TN, and loves to climb all kinds of rocks and enjoy other kinds of wild outdoor and spiritual pursuits.

LAURA EDMONDSON
Laura Edmondson is a climber, a hiker, and a yoga practitioner, who cares deeply about the environment. She is a Leader for Brown Girls Climb, an organization whose mission is to increase visibility and access for women of color in the climbing community. She identifies as female and uses she/her/hers pronouns. Professionally, She is a Program Manager for a non-profit called Best Buddies, where, among other things, she teaches public speaking and self-advocacy classes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Laura was raised in Knoxville, TN, Taslaguwetiyi (Cherokee) and Tsoyaha (Yuchi) territories, outside The Great Smoky Mountains.

SARA MIDDLETON
Fitness Professional turned climber overnight. Sara’s current projects include training her canines to be respectful & responsible crag dogs, persuading climbers to actually warm up, & encouraging gym goers to put their equipment away.  In 2018, Sara was named one of Pittsburgh’s Fitness Leaders & is psyched to continue educating climbers about the benefits of a well rounded training program.

PANELISTS

ABBY DIONE
Please see bio and picture above

KAREEMAH BATTS
“I became an amputee after I was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in 2009. It is a very rare soft tissue cancer with a 70% mortality rate.  After amputation, chemo, and other treatments, the cancer diagnosis went into remission. There was a lot of physical therapy and support groups over the course of a year. But,  question was…what’s next? I was no longer the person I knew. Depression, anxiety and a short temper had set in. I had never climbed before if you count a ladder or two. Anxiety had kept me a belay slave not thinking I could climb. In addition, I had never seen anyone like me climb. As part of my 30th birthday present and my Cancerversary (1 year in remission). I applied for a scholarship to Colorado Mountain School for a week in Estes Park, Colorado. I had never climbed before.  So it was definitely a great place to have a breakthrough after walking just a year. It was just as frightening as it was difficult. But working against gravity in that manner was the most amazing experience I could ever have.”
Since 2012, Kareemah Batts’ innovative, creative style of programming, and story of survival has been featured in print, television, radio, and online media; such as Australian Science, PBS Newshour, New York Times, CNN.com, etc. She has been chosen as one 2013’s 13 Faces of Cancer, awarded New York City’s Americans with Disability Act Sapolin Award by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and is the first female paraclimber in a USA Climbing Competition.

VASU SOJITRA
When Vasu was only nine months old, he was diagnosed with septicemia, resulting in the amputation of one of his legs. Since then, Vasu has not looked back; with the help of his parents, brother, and friends, Vasu has built up the confidence needed to face new challenges with grace, courage, strength, humor, and unwavering determination.
Vasu witnessed extreme poverty growing up in India, and has been living most of his life with a “dis”ability. He looks at these experiences as a blessing; they have allowed him to truly hone in on his ability to empathize with others. He continues to strengthen his vigor through his work in advocacy for those who face mental and physical limitations. Vasu will continue to inspire others to be a positive influence in their own communities by pushing personal limits, putting others first, and encouraging people to believe in themselves and in their own unique abilities!
He has continued to challenge the biases that go with being a person of color with a disability through his current work as the Adaptive Sports Program Director for Eagle Mount Bozeman, one of the Coordinators for Earthtone Outsideᴹᵀ, and the first adaptive athlete for The North Face.