Climbing gives me a mental break from work and family and whatever else is going on.

BC-born Kelli Keesey is no stranger to multi-tasking. She’s not only a member of the Open Performance Team, working in the medical industry, but also is a mom raising two daughters. As a former competitive gymnast, Kelli brings with her a wealth of life and competition experience… and we’re excited to see her progress as part of the Open Team. We’re inspired by how she’s been able to manage juggling the demands of family, work and being an an athlete.

How did you get into climbing?

After a competitive gymnastics career through high school, I started climbing during university in Victoria at CragX. Not only was it a perfect fit and transition for me, I even met my husband shortly after I started climbing! After university, we moved to Calgary and, on a whim one weekend, we entered a bouldering competition and made it to finals completely unprepared and unaware of the rules. I was hooked! I did several more competitions before moving back to BC to start a family.

What climbing achievements are you the most proud of?

While still based out of Calgary I was primarily sport climbing and managed to send two 5.13a routes: Stygian Aire in Cougar Creek and Moonbridge in Kalymnos. For bouldering, I sent Stegasaurus, v8 in Hueco and flashed Nurse Ratchet a v7 on the same trip. This was a wonderful moment for me as I realized I could still set new goals and climb hard after having my daughters.

How do you manage to juggle having a family, work and being on the Open Performance Team?
Ever since moving back to BC, having two kids and losing touch with my climbing community after leaving Calgary, my climbing has been sporadic. While I’ve continued to climb on my own and have been lucky to find a few very special people to climb with, scheduling is a huge challenge given my responsibilities as a mom and my work in the medical department of a pharmaceutical company.

I’m very lucky to have the support of family and friends and have definitely learned to ask for help when I need it.

Personal growth and the support of my family and friends has helped in finding a work-life-family balance. I’m also a problem solver by nature so I pretty much approach climbing the same way I do challenges in life by attacking challenges head on.

What do you need to take your climbing to the next level?

Being on the Open Team has given me the chance to train in a structured environment with people just as motivated as I am. It’s also an opportunity to train in a way that I’ve never had before – with coaching and a personal plan for my growth as a climber. While I’m older than the rest of the climbers on the team, it’s a unique gift to see what I can accomplish and I’m very committed to following the program that Andrew has laid out for me.

I have already seen improvements and am really excited to see how much more I can improve. I love training, climbing and competing because it really allows me to put aside everything else going on to focus on me and the movement. I think the biggest thing for me is to believe that I can achieve some of the goals I have set for myself and give myself permission to put myself first when I’m training and competing. This can be hard to do being a mom!

What are the benefits of being a climber and a mom?
I definitely need physical activity to keep me from going crazy and climbing gives me a mental break from work and family and whatever else is going on. It allows me to refocus, re-energize and come back to the rest of my life with more patience and a positive attitude. Climbing also allows me to be a better role model for my daughters – they can see me being physically active as part of a healthy lifestyle and that girls can definitely show up the boys!

This is part of a series to profile members of the Climb Base5 Open Performance Team.