Sierra Blair Coyle is not like your friend who hikes for leisure or navigates indoor rock climbing walls for exercise. Sierra is the real deal, a professional climber who uses strength and brains to ascend rock faces competitively in such places as Europe, Asia and South America. For her it’s about the excitement, the strategy and how anyone can compete if they have the training and the drive. It’s a sport that “levels out the playing field,” she said. “You get to see who the better climbers are.” As they say, you can give up, give in or give it everything you got.
Which do you think Sierra’s doing?
An Interview with Climber Sierra Blair Coyle
Name: Sierra Blair
Age (if you want to give it up): 28
Birthplace: Scottsdale, AZ
Current town: Scottsdale, AZ
Occupation: Professional Rock Climber
- Please tell us a little bit about you and your career. What is the hardest challenge you faced?
I began climbing when I was 8 years old and became a professional climber at age 14. I am now 28 and have spent the better part of the last decade climbing, competing, and traveling around the world and doing what I love!
The hardest challenge I have faced in climbing was balancing attending University and climbing professionally. It was important to me that I received a degree, but I certainly don’t miss the days where I was juggling school and climbing!
And your hardest climbing challenge?
I injured my back when I was 16 and it was devastating and difficult to heal from. Then I reinjured it last year. I’m still fighting through it, but I’m fighting through it and doing everything I can. I’m trying to handle the pain and really learning how to climb with my back being more susceptible to injury now and how to be a strong climber with it.
And what did that teach you about life?
I teaches me that I can fight through anything. The difference between a couple of months ago and now is night and day. It’s crazy what your mind and body can do if you give them the chance.
- What’s better – falling in love or sending a challenging route? Why?
Sending a challenging route. It’s something you can accomplish yourself and is a reflection of your hard work and determination.
What about the love part?
I’m not a huge romantic so I don’t care about it as much, I guess.
- How would you reply if someone asked how (or if) you were making a difference?
I would tell them that it’s really not up to me to decide if I’m making a difference. I focus my life on being a good person and I feel confident that will pay it forward.
- What’s your favorite rock album? And why?
My favorite album is Hybrid Theory from Linkin Park. It is the first album I remember absolutely loving…and I still love it to this day!
- What’s something that people don’t know about you?
I’ve gotten into thrifting lately! I’ve had a great time finding unique clothing and decorating my condo with found art. I usually stop into the stores after training and keep my fingers crossed that new treasures await me each time!
Photo Courtesy of Todd Bukowski
- Will you always be involved in professional rock climbing or do you ever think about other career paths? If so, what would they be and why?
Other career paths definitely interest me, but at this point in time I don’t foresee myself giving up climbing professionally! If I had to choose though, I would love to do something in marketing or finance.
- BONUS QUESTION: Which mountain is the one you haven’t climbed but want to climb the most?
There’s a climbing area called Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean. It’s beautiful and on the beach. I like to climb and I like the beach so it’s kind of everything I ever want. I’m going to make it there in the near future. But until then, it’s onto the next adventure.