5 inspiring videos of free climber Steph Davis

February 04, 2015                 10m read time
April Kilcrease

One of the world’s top climbers, ZOZI Guru Steph Davis has free climbed Yosemite's legendary El Capitan, a 3,000-foot vertical rock formation, and she was the first woman to free ascend the massive cliff’s tricky Salathe Wall. Perhaps most impressively (or frighteningly), Davis regularly free solo climbs walls with nothing but her skilled hands and feet to get her to the top. She returns to earth by BASE jumping or flying down in a wingsuit. In the following clips, the seemingly fearless athlete talks risk, endurance, and learning to let go.

1. Choosing to Fly, TEDx Boulder


On risk and resilience:

“ ... what’s funny to me is how we always talk about taking risks like it’s an option or a decision we get to make, like there might be some version of life in which just getting out of bed doesn’t open you up to an endless gamut of risks, some version of life in which things don’t change, and nothing happens … There’s no way to avoid risk in life … The real risk is in making your life small and turning your world grey.”

There’s no way to avoid risk in life … The real risk is in making your life small and turning your world grey.
— Steph Davis, ZOZI Guru

“Resilience is like a rainbow super ball. You can spike that thing onto concrete, and it’s going to bounce up even higher and ricochet around all over the place. Endurance is about holding on. Resilience is about letting go.”

2. Diamond free solo, “The Sharp End” movie by Sender Films


On going it alone and letting go:

“It helps me to be by myself and do risky things, because that triggers a lot of thought. It helps me figure things out.”

“I felt in the past that like, ‘Oh, things are so good. I’m afraid that they might go away.’ But that time is passing. I actually see that it’s okay for things to go away and I’m even more free.”

3. Steph Davis: Fear, prAna’s “Inside Game”


On focus and fear:

“I think what you put in your head is what stays in there. For example, if you’re thinking don’t fall, there’s still the fall. I feel like your brain doesn’t decipher ‘not to.’ It’s just seeing ‘fall.’”

“It’s all about ... putting what you want in your brain and not allowing the things that you don’t want. That’s the crux of life. So when you’re afraid of things—like what could happen or what might not happen or what you have or what you might not have—all that stuff, that’s just fear.”

4. “Outside Today” interview, Outside Television


On listening to fear:

“Fear is a tough one, because when you get really scared, you can’t really do anything. And so I’ve put a lot of energy myself into studying that and saying, ‘Okay, how do I not be controlled by that?’ Because fear is just a performance destroyer. And being scared often causes you to be less safe because you can’t do a good job.”

When I was younger if something scared me, I thought, ‘Oh, I have to do it.’
— Steph Davis, ZOZI Guru

“When I was younger if something scared me, I thought, ‘Oh, I have to do it.’ I gotta grab it by the horns and make it happen. Now sometimes if I’m really scared, sometimes I’ll listen to that and say, ‘Maybe not today.’”

5. The Ups and Downs of Steph Davis, Rock and Ice


On why:

“I can, so why wouldn’t I?”

BONUS: Salathe Wall Free Video, High Infatuation


In this clip, fellow ZOZI Guru Jimmy Chin films Davis ascending El Cap’s Salathe Wall.

April Kilcrease


April is the editor at ZOZI. Born in Germany, she grew up on three continents with a road-trip loving family. In her twenties, she was thrilled to discover that she could continue this semi-nomadic lifestyle as a journalist. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, and AFAR.

Subscribe +

Get the best stories and activities, personalized just for you. Go on, get out there!

You might also enjoy: