Exploring Eastern Sierra Rock with Ibex Advocate Tammy Wilson

Tammy Wilson moved to Mammoth Lakes, California for the winters, but a drought brought her to Bishop’s Happy Boulders instead of the slopes. She’s been climbing ever since, and while her love for the sport began with bouldering, she quickly started exploring classic sport routes in the Owens River Gorge and has added several of Yosemite’s traditional multi-pitch routes to her resume.

Tammy’s goal is to climb and play in the mountains for the rest of her life, and she works to support other women in their outdoor adventure goals however she can.

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When did you know you were hooked on climbing?

Tammy Wilson (TW): I moved to the Eastern Sierra for snowboarding, but we had a few really bad winters in a row. All of my friends decided to drop snowboarding for the season and go climbing. And I was like, “What is this climbing that you speak of? And why are you always in Bishop?” Finally, my friends took me, and I became completely addicted. The first day I went I realized I needed to go every day; I wanted to be immersed in every aspect of it. That was about three years ago.

What makes the Eastern Sierra your perfect home base?

TW: I can do everything I love all year round. And it’s always nice out! There’s so much hiking, all the lakes are beautiful, and the mountain biking is fun. I actually still snowboard all of the time—it’s still a big passion of mine.

What are your favorite Ibex pieces for winter climbing?

TW: I love Ibex because they make awesome wool pieces that are functional in pretty much every aspect of life up here. I can wear them outside walking around town and then go straight to climbing or wear them under my outerwear for snowboarding. The sweater knit headband is perfect for when you’re climbing and your hair is in a ponytail because you can keep your ears warm and keep your hair out of your face. And I pretty much wear my Indie Half Zip as a base layer for all of my outdoor activities. It’s the perfect layering piece. I have the Woolies long-sleeve crew, and when it’s really cold out, I’ll layer both of those pieces together.

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Shortly after starting climbing you became part of Flash Foxy, a women’s climbing group dedicated to celebrating and facilitating women climbing with other women. What is your role as a member of the “Fox Force”?

TW: I help plan the Bishop, all-women’s climbing festival. We’re seeing a huge need for organizations and events like this (our March festival sold out in less than five minutes!). I wanted to be a part of the Fox Force because girls are awesome. I am inspired by the all of the ladies that make up Flash Foxy—they have such strength, passion and love for the sport. Flash Foxy is a place where women can come to feel inspired by and connected to other lady crushers.

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What makes climbing with other women special?

TW: I like watching women climb; I can better relate to the way they move than most male climbers. I have an awesome crew of guys I climb with too, but while I’m thankful for their constant support, there’s nothing comparable to the energy of an all-women group supporting one another. And the snacks are better!

What advice would you give women climbers looking to gain the confidence to send hard routes?

TW: Just try! You never know what you are capable of until you try. The worst thing that can happen is you get shut down, but that’s what climbing is all about: trying hard, failing, trying again, and eventually getting to the top.

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Do you have any current projects in the Bishop area?

TW: I feel like every time I leave Bishop I have five new projects. I have some sport projects in Owens River Gorge and some bouldering goals in the Buttermilks. I’ve started to write a list of them on my fridge so I can try to stay focused. I just got back from a trip to Thailand, so I’m here in the Eastern Sierra for a while.

Follow Tammy on Instagram to keep up with her outdoor adventures.