When Quinn Brett walks into a room, you can’t help but smile at her bright eyes, huge grin, and often pink, green, or purple hair. Brett is almost always positive, and she has good reason to be. Aside from just signing on to be one of Red Fox’s elite North America athletes, Brett has settled into what she calls a balanced, happy life. She climbs regularly, and climbs hard. She recently was part of the first two-woman team to climb El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, twice in less than 24 hours, a feat that has been reserved to male climbers until now. And she has fulfilling jobs working as one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s illustrious climbing ranger positions, teaching Wilderness EMT classes in Leavenworth, Washington, and running yoga/climbing retreats. We recently chatted with Quinn to find out what her plans are for 2015.
Red Fox: You are just back from teaching a month-long course in the Northwest. What are you doing now?
Quinn Brett: Doing yoga, hanging out… I went to the DMV twice today (laughs). I’m heading to Paradox Valley, Colorado, to climb some nice Wingate sandstone splitters this weekend. I own land there. Next year we are building a farm. I’d love to do my yoga/climbing retreats there one day and have the women [with whom she bought the property] help cultivate food. That’s my dream.
RF: What are your long-term goals? You received a grant to go to Baffin this year, but you opted to take one of the coveted climbing ranger positions.
QB: I still want to go to Baffin! But I had to give the grant back. It was a great opportunity to work in the park to utilize my climbing skills and my wilderness EMT skills. I put them both to good use during rescues. There are just too many great things to do in the summer. I’d love to go to the Bugs (Bugaboos in Canada) again; I still have some big objectives I want to do in Yosemite, but lining up three different partners is hard. And I’ve been thinking about going back to school. I’ve always wanted to get my PhD.
RF: A PhD in what?
QB: I really feel like I could clinically help people who attend my yoga/climbing retreats. I like doing research on fear and sports psychology — how you can clear the mind and focus on the movement and the moment. It’s amazing how we can control our fear just by taking a deep breath. We can control our hormones, reduce the cortisol. That’s what happens when we get fearful. We retract, and we are ready for this fight or flight. But we can rewire our pathways. It’s not a way we need to be reacting.
RF: So you’ve seen this work in your yoga/climbing retreats?
QB: Definitely. Take these women who have never gone rock climbing; everyone gets to the top. Most of the time people freak out when they climb, or when they get uncomfortable they want to quit. But we teach them to breathe while doing yoga, and then they apply that to their climbing. We teach them to take a deep breath while they’re climbing and to push a little more. When this happens on the cliff it’s so awesome.
RF: When you’re not climbing, what do you do?
QB: I get psyched to do other things. I’m on a running kick. I’m going to do the Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon; it’s 18 miles. And I’m really keen on doing the Zion Rim to Rim. I did half [of it] two years ago.
RF: Is there anything I’m not asking you that you want to share with us?
QB: Don’t be afraid. Just try. We are all embarrassed when we try new things. I always want it to look like I know what I’m doing. But, as my friend Christina says, “speak loud and proud.”