As a kid growing up in Estes Park, Colorado, Paige Claassen struggled to fit in to traditional activities. But when her parents took her to the climbing gym for the first time when she was 9, she found her place: climbing.
From that day on, Paige has spent each year training, competing, and traveling to sport climb both in the United States and internationally (in places like South Africa, India, Ecuador, Norway, and Australia).
“Climbing provides a very personal challenge—a battle between you and the rock,” Paige says. “It’s best to find a rock you truly want to battle, because when you’re trying at your limit, you never know how much time you’ll be spending with that piece of stone. Those long battles are what get me fired up!”
While attending school at the University of Colorado Boulder (where she earned a marketing degree), she sent routes like Grand Ole Opry (5.14b/c) at the Monastery, Colorado, and Just Do It (5.14c) in Smith Rock, Oregon. Since then, she’s climbed numerous 5.14a, 5.14b, and 5.14c routes, including two first ascents graded 5.14a and 5.13d. She loves to choose aesthetic projects that challenge her, but excels at technical sport climbs with intricate footwork.
Beyond climbing, in 2016 Paige founded the Southern Africa Education Fund (SAEF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to providing kids in South Africa and Namibia with the education necessary to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. That means helping fund new classrooms, update infrastructure, and more.