An Interview with Colette McInerney

Editor: Thanks for chatting with us, Colette! We do appreciate your time, because you’re busy climbing in Spain, and yet you made time for an interview with us. Thanks so much!

Colette McInerney: Thank you for wanting to interview me! Hah!

Editor: My pleasure!  How are you finding the limestone climbing in Spain? The rock is amazing out there!

Colette McInerney: Yeah I absolutely love coming to Spain! That’s why I’ve been coming here the last 6 years. There’s just so much rock and this time of year the weather is really consistent so it’s just a really great place to come in the winter/ spring season. 

Editor: You climbed Petit Tom 8a, 13b at the Berlin Sector in Ceuse. What was that like? (Check out Colette's amazing video.)

Colette McInerney: Petit Tom is at the Berlin sector in Ceuse. Pretty much every line on the wall is immaculate. It’s safe to say you can go there and choose any route and you’ll be satisfied. This particular line has a very bouldery start and then perfect resistance climbing to the top. True to my non endurance style, even once I figured out the boulder problem I pumped off the top section several times before gaining the endurance to take it down. Awesome climb!

Editor: You’re indubitably one of the climbing community’s most beautiful and talented sport climbers.

Has your family been supportive of your career?

Colette McInerney: That is a very nice compliment, thank you! Yes I have an incredibly supportive family. I didn’t necessarily follow the most traditional path, but my parents have always said as long as I’m happy they support me in everything I’m doing. I feel very lucky.

Editor: How old were you when you got into climbing?

Colette McInerney: It was the end of my freshman year in college the beginning of my sophomore year, so I was about 19 or 20.


Editor: Who gave you your first climbing lesson and where did this take place?

Colette McInerney: My college roommate Megan McDonald took me climbing for the first time in a climbing gym in Stanford, Connecticut “Go Vertical”. I was hooked immediately. But it wasn’t until about a year later when I met Jackie Moore and went on my first road trip out west that I really fell in love with all the different aspects of climbing.

Editor: When a particular boulder problem or climbing route doesn’t seem to let you through, how do you condition your mind and spirit so that you can crush it?

Colette McInerney: I think every climber is always working on how to mentally approach climbing better and better all the time. For me climbing is really subtle, and sometimes is seems like there is no reason why I perform better one day and not another.  I can’t really think of something specifically that I do, but the longer I climb I realize every situation is a little different and may have its own approach in order to find a resolution. I would say that repetition helps me a lot in order to become confident with a hard project. By doing moves over and over again, I feel like I am training my body and my mind how to do the moves better and more effectively. 

Editor: How do you up your endurance level?

Colette McInerney: Get really pumped! I think the only way for me to get better at being pumped is to get so tired that my hands are literally opening up on holds and hanging on until I actually just fall off.  Then I do that again, and again, and again and eventually one day I’m just not as pumped!

Editor: There is a purity and deep spirituality to climbing that some athletes feel strongly, while for others, it is merely a physical pursuit.

When you’re in the midst of nature, there is a silent connection that you make with your surroundings that others may not notice.

Do you sense that vibe, that connection to the rock and to nature?

Colette McInerney: 
When I first started climbing I was living in NYC in the Bronx. I was fascinated with city life and urban culture. When I first came out west for climbing I think I was amazed how something like a simple landscape could be as excited as the mayhem of the city. I’ve always loved being outside and the woods in the southeast, but being out west definitely brought nature into my life on a completely different level. I‘m really appreciative to climbing because of that.

Editor: So, here’s a really important question. Why do you climb?

What does it give you emotionally? How does it empower you mentally?

Colette McInerney: At first I think I was most attracted to the movement in climbing, and the pure physical aspect. Over time it has become so much more to me than that. Beyond even the ego based things, like goal setting, determination, over coming fears, achievements, dealing with failures, etc. climbing has become my community, my family and kind of my lens in which I view the world. It’s the way I travel, determines the places I go, and how I spend my time there.

Editor: Superb answer! Did you watch Valley Uprising? What are your thoughts on the film?

Colette McInerney:
  I really loved the enhanced photos from the past. It was so beautifully and creatively done! Also that part of the story was really interesting to me, as I didn’t know much about that time in the valley. 

Editor: What are your thoughts on the preservation of nature and climate change?

(I ask because it directly affects the climbing profession.)

Colette McInerney: I wish I was more knowledgeable about all the facts and issues behind climate change, there are just so many levels of this discussion! But of course I think it’s awful that we are creating irreversible changes to our planet, that will potentially be catastrophic in the future. As a whole instilling the value of moderation in future generations is key.

Editor: We all rejoiced when the Tommy and Kevin sent the Dawn Wall, and it surely did a lot to bring this art mainstream. It brought the whole climbing community together to rejoice as a family.

How did you feel when they accomplished this enormous endeavor?

Colette McInerney: I was psyched for them of course! It was really great to see the entire community pull together and celebrate such an accomplishment. I think climbers always have mixed feelings about mainstream media tapping into our sport. But I think everyone seemed pretty excited to see recognition given where it was do. Really cool, those guys are heroes!

Editor: On rest days, what kinds of books do you read and what kind of music do you love?

Colette McInerney: I love reading even though I go in and out of  phases where I read more than others. I just finished reading some older classics that I probably never really read properly in high school and college. It was great! I love a lot of female authors. I went through a huge Maya Angelou kick a few years back. Now I’m reading my boyfriend’s favorite author Paul Auster and loving that. Love a great non-fiction too!

Editor: That's so cool. You’re a rare talent when it comes to photography. When I see the images you capture, it seems like you’re telling a story – via one image at a time.

How did you get into photography and who are your favorite photographers?

Colette McInerney: Thank you! That is very sweet! I guess in a way I am telling a story, since most of my pictures are just documenting my life and traveling. Normally I don’t plan a shot it’s nearly always in the moment. I fell into photography, again through climbing. It started as a way to show my friends and family what I was up to and slowly become more and more of something I really loved to do.

Editor: Thanks for spending some time with us, Colette. Please come by and talk with us again.

Colette McInerney: Thanks so much for speaking with me too!


Editor: It was my honor entirely.


Editor-in-Chief of
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
All images © of the designated photographer and used with Colette's written permission.


Official Facebook page

Official website:

Black Diamond, Five Ten, Sterling Rope

Climber Bio:

Colette McInerney
Born: Nashville, TN
Lives: On the Road
Climbing since: 2002

Favorite climbing areas: Spain, CO, Southern Utah

On the Cover:

Colette McInerney