Stride Stories: Get paid to pursue your passion

[Rannveig Aamodt is a Stride ambassador, professional climber & photographer, and instagram inspiration]

Stride: What did you do before you were a climber?

Rannveig: I grew up on a horse ranch in Norway and was into all outdoor activities, as well as being very dedicated to training horses. When I was 16, I moved away from home to attend a high school that offered a sports program, where I specialized in training for climbing. During that time I got very into dog mushing and started racing Alaskan huskies, which led me to study veterinary acupuncture. At the age of 22, I did a 3800km long winter traverse of Norway on cross-country skis… one of the best experiences of my life. After that I shifted my focus to climbing again, getting my first climbing sponsors at the age of 25.

Stride: Wow! How did you find out you loved climbing?

Rannveig: I got my first pair of climbing shoes at 15, so I was late to the game. I was passionate and knew early that I had a talent, but I didn’t want to give up all the other fun stuff I was doing. Over time I decided to spend time getting better at one thing – climbing happened to be the one thing that was most inspiring to me.

Stride: How did you differentiate yourself as a climber and get sponsors?

Rannveig: I didn't start making money from climbing until four years ago. To be a sponsored climber I had to make myself valuable for companies by being visible in the community, getting published in magazines, being active on social media, doing motivational speaking, etc. That was hard for me at first and something I had to learn. This industry requires a lot of hustling and there are few guidelines. Many times I've had to break my own trail with a lot of trial and error.

Stride: Are you completely supporting yourself now with climbing?

Rannveig: I could fully support myself with climbing, but I think it's healthy for me to do something outside of climbing. I really enjoy photography and have a small business that’s unrelated to climbing. I love having that additional creative outlet.

Stride: What is your biggest weakness as a climber?

Rannveig: I look at "weaknesses" as areas that hold potential to improve. Right now, I'm focusing on climbing with momentum and staying calm when I climb routes for the first time. I have an underlying fear of falling when I'm not in control, and I work on this every day! I only see failure when I let routes get to my head and get down on myself. I hate it when other thoughts take over and I fail to focus on the process.

Stride: What’s your best climbing tip for the aspiring climber?

Rannveig: Sneak in as many indoor sessions as you can during the week… short and sweet sessions can be very effective. When you get the chance to climb outdoors, make sure you’re ready to try as hard as you can. “Trying hard” is a skill that can take a really long time to develop.

Stride: How did you get such a large social (i.e. instagram/facebook) following? Has that helped your climbing business?

Rannveig: It’s taken time, but I’ve been active, careful with my hash tags, and my posts have often been reposted by larger accounts or by my sponsors. Yes, it helps make my climbing business more valuable to my sponsors, since they get in front of a large amount of eyes.

Stride: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever experienced while climbing?

Rannveig: In 2012 I nearly died in a 50-foot ground fall. After a heinous recovery process I returned to the best shape of my life in less than a year. You can read that story here.

Stride: Tell us about a time you were scared on the wall and how you overcame that?

Rannveig: It happens quite often to be honest. Fear is not something I want to get rid of, but definitely something that is necessary to practice dealing with. I consciously work to prevent fear while I'm still on the ground by being very careful about my safety check routine. That way I prevent the “Uh oh, how is my knot?" while climbing. I check if the route has any potential for dangerous falls, so I know what I’m signing up for. Then I commit. If I'm still scared on the wall, I focus on my breathing which helps to keep my head and nervous system calm. I also talk to myself or sing.

Stride: Will you always work for yourself? Why?

Rannveig: Yes. I like the freedom of creating my own schedule, even if it comes with more uncertainties and more responsibilities. I'm definitely not a 9-5 worker.

Stride: What is your favorite aspect of Stride?

Rannveig: Coming from Norway, I look at the health care system in the States as broken. I never had to worry about insurance companies and co-pays and co-insurance until I came to the States. It’s bewildering. I feel that Stride is actually working for me, on my behalf, to help me figure out what’s best. I feel like Stride is my advocate, which is great when the system is so confusing.