Staff Spotlight: Olivia Harris

Olivia started as a member, took climbing classes, and has now been working for Petra Cliffs for just under a year. Olivia has a great sense of humor, motivation and a no BS attitude that we admire. She is excited to teach new climbers and to continue furthering her own skills... and we love her "fun fact!" Olivia, we miss you! 

Where are you from, and how long have you worked at Petra Cliffs?
I am from Southern California, and I've worked at Petra for a little under a year.

What is your role at the gym?
I mostly work at the front desk, but have been known to occasionally fill in for team coaches, mini monkeys coaches, and I have done a handful of setting. Working at the front desk mostly entails checking in members and getting newcomers set up with gear. My favorite part about working at the front desk is doing belay orientations. I love being able to teach people who have never climbed before, and watch them overcome their fears. I remember coming to Petra for the first time and Craig teaching me how to belay in my own orientation, so I can appreciate how important it can be to have a good introduction to the sport.

What is your climbing background?
I've been climbing for almost two years. I originally started climbing because I thought it would be something fun that my brother and I could do together when I went home for the summer. Unfortunately, he developed some foot problems and couldn't climb, but I kept going without him. When I came back to Vermont in the fall, I started climbing at Petra and ended up enrolling in Craig's class. Over the past year, I feel like I've learned so much about climbing techniques and systems, and have been getting outside more and more. I feel like I'm just turning a corner where I have just enough confidence and knowledge to start going on bigger adventures. That being said- I know I still have a lot to learn, which is very exciting!

What is a fun fact about you that many of our members don't know?
I am the person that does the autobelay checks every week! My favorite is the left back autobelay. The anchors at the top of that wall get a draft from the heater, so in winter I usually take extra time cleaning and checking that autobelay so I can warm up. It's also pretty fun to enjoy the view from the top of the wall. It's a unique perspective of the gym!

Do you have a preferred climbing discipline (boulder/sport/trad)?
In the gym, I'm happy bouldering or rope climbing. Outside, I definitely prefer rope climbing. I'm still building my confidence on lead, and have to be in the right mindset and with the right partner to feel good about getting on a sport climb. I'm always happy top-roping a climb that is at or above my limit. I would love to learn more about trad, but I'm not in any rush. This past winter I tried ice climbing for the first time at the Smuggs Ice Bash. I'm pretty hooked! I really want to practice more dry tooling and get out some more next winter.

What's one thing you'd like to see the gym start offering members as we upgrade to Petra 2.0?
I am a big fan of snacks, and it would be great to have more food/beverage offerings in the new gym. I know we all drink a decent amount of coffee, so maybe a little café? It could be a great way to support other local small businesses, too.

What do you value most about being part of the Petra Cliffs community, especially during this current state of the Coronavirus?
I was a member first, and then a part of Craig's class, before becoming an employee. It was awesome to get to know more and more people as I became more involved in the gym. I love being able to go to the gym and always have someone there to climb or chat with. Being able to project or work on a climb with a friend is one of my favorite things about climbing, and definitely one of the things I miss most. I ended up going home to California to be with my family, but I still try to keep in touch with my coworkers and friends. I also know that as soon as this all blows over, and we can reconnect as a community, it'll feel like a big family reunion. I look forward to that every day.