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rowanwaller_climbingHi everyone, my name is Rowan, and I’m here to introduce myself as a new contributor to The Outdoorist blog for Articles in Common. I am a lover of all things literary and outdoorsy, and I enjoy many different hobbies related to both.  My favorite outdoor activities are canyoneering, trail running, traditional rock climbing, and backpacking to find alpine napping spots. I share my time at home with a fierce orange tabby, Milo, and a giant cow-colored dog, Oatmeal. They make life pretty special, and fur-covered. My partner is a fun addition to our zoo as well, along with his dog Blueberry, and because he is a professional highliner I’ve started my foray into more slacklining and highlining ventures as well.

a pretty girl poses with her adorable blue heeler dog outdoors

I began writing at a young age because my dad is a children’s book author. He taught me how to write on a boxy keyboard at his office by letting me sit on his lap and type away before I even knew how to string words together. Throughout the years, I honed my skills in literature by reading everything I could get my hands on and submerging myself in poetry.

Along with writing articles about climate change, inclusivity, and activism in the outdoors, I’ve published over 30 poetry pieces in literary magazines and journals and wrote a full-length poetry book manuscript before I turned 21.

I never attempted backpacking or camping until I was 18, when I moved from the Midwest to Colorado to go to college. At first, I was jealous of everyone who grew up learning to hike, bike, and climb, but I realized I appreciate these experiences so much more because I found them and clung to them at an older age. Climbing was something I found around age 15 in a dingy, poorly-lit basement gym, but my outdoor climbs were initially limited to the water towers and fire escapes of my hometown.  

Nature is somewhere I feel safe, seen, and the best version of myself. I aim to spend my life fostering this feeling for others who may not have access to those experiences elsewhere. I stumbled into the outdoor guiding industry after college, and discovered a world of people I felt like I’d always been missing… people who didn’t mind sleeping on the ground, who camped in their car, who were as diverse and unique and silly as the lives they lived. It was a dream, and I set upon a path that would change everything I’d known up until that point. 

a backpacker poses for a photo with a mountainview backdrop

Those seasons in the wilderness shaped me into who I am now. I stood on top of mountains in tears, in the deepest snow Colorado has ever seen, howling with joy from the sheer beauty of it all. I was the youngest woman to walk many of those ridgelines in known history during those years. Still, it never came easy for me.

Living the seasonal guiding life was brutal. I carried the heaviest pack and was often left behind by my peers because I was the only woman in the group, and I was acutely aware of my physical limitations. It was always a fight to prove my place within the white, male-dominated realm of alpinism and climbing. It still is, and I am in no way alone in this. Regardless, through these harsh years I found my voice to speak out about the injustice and inequality running rampant through the woods. 

I believe women and all marginalized groups have as much right to the outdoors as anyone else, and am passionate about increasing access in the outdoors for everyone. Through years of guiding for the biggest outdoor industry companies in the U.S. and major climbing organizations, I’ve seen and experienced firsthand just how unequal things can be outdoors. It doesn’t sit well with me, and has led me away from the industry’s guiding realm to one based more in education. Teaching others comes easily to me, and I love watching students become empowered and excited about nature. Through the lens of education in my writing and through the outdoors, I hope to foster greater inclusion and justice in all the work I do.

girls hiking and backpacking in the mountains and desert

Activism for diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand with climate change awareness. Things are changing at a rapid rate in the world, and we need the help of every distinct community if we are going to do something about it. Nature is something everyone should be able to come together for and put our differences aside to protect. Surely we can all get behind the goal of saving the one planet we have to live on, right? There is no place for injustice and disrespect in a dwindling ecosystem… survival comes with cooperation. 

That is part of what drew me to Articles in Common and The Outdoorist blog. Emme and the team have the goal of changing the world, one informed message or recycled piece of gear at a time. This is a testament to how no action is too small. Anything you do for the betterment of the planet is worthwhile, and will send rippling impacts to others.

Everyone has a voice, and everyone has something to teach each other. I hope that through my writing I can impact and encourage others to feel “seen” or to make a positive change in the world in some way. Writing helps me contribute my skills to causes I am passionate about when I’m not educating people physically in the outdoors, and I hope you’ll find meaning and learnings through the posts I share with The Outdoorist. They’ll always be crafted with love, education, and inclusion in mind, because I wish I had something similar to read while I was fighting for my own place in the outdoors years ago.


With love,

Rowan (she/her)

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