Who is Steph?
My Motivations, Childhood Photos, Climbing Resume, Recovery Stories, Photography Equipment, and Publications
My name is Steph Abegg:
I'm 38 years old.
For as long as I remember, I have been triply afflicted with an insatiable thirst for adventure, a persistent awe of the natural world, and a need to somehow document the world around me. I feel the most alive when I am in the mountains and outdoors, immersed in God's amazing handiwork.
In my life apart from climbing and outdoor adventure, I am a math nerd. From Sept 2014 to June 2019, I taught calculus at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. As of July 2019, I am now living in Boulder, Colorado, where I have started a PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado Boulder. I'm excited at all of the gripping math and awesome Colorado rock in my future.
Here's a timeline of where I have lived and my academic/career progression over the years.
1983: Vashon Island, Washington. Born on May 14 in Tacoma General Hospital, WA to two loving parents.
1984-1987: Jerusalem, Israel.
1987-1992: Cincinatti, Ohio.
1992-1995: Winona Lake, Indiana.
1995-2002: Abbotsford, British Columbia.
2002-2006: Stanford University, Palo Alto, California: Bachelors in Engineering Geology, Minor in Mathematics, Minor in Astrophysics.
2006: Begin this website.
2006-2007: Civil Engineer, Dayton & Knight, Ltd., Abbotsford, British Columbia.
2007-2008: Geotechnical Engineer, Golder Associates, Ltd., Abbotsford, British Columbia.
2008-2010: University of Washington, Seattle, Washington: Masters in Civil Engineering.
2011-2012: Research Engineer, Janicki Industries, Inc., Sedro-Woolley, Washington.
2012-2014: Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington: Masters in Mathematics.
2014-2019: Adjunct Math Instructor at Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington.
2019-present: University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado: Working on a PhD in Applied Mathematics. In Fall 2021, I worked a contract job as an HR Admin at Corden Pharma before returning to my graduate studies the following semester.
I began my website in 2006 as a means to display my nature and adventure photography, mainly as a platform to share with friends and family. Then I started to supplement the photos with detailed notes and beta, and my site evolved into an ever-growing wealth of trip reports from alpine climbs, road trips, and other outdoor exploits. I also use the website as an avenue to present a variety of unique projects I've dreamed up. My website has three primary sections:
The bulk of my website is devoted to several trip reports from climbs (and some other adventures) I have done. Mountains have always been a part of my life. My parents met while backpacking in the Olympic Mountains in the summer of 1974, got married within a year, and proceeded to spend much of the 70s and early 80s trekking around Washington's rugged ranges. I was born in May 1983, and less than three months later they took me on my first overnight (and international!) backpacking trip near Mt. Temple, BC; I was eaten alive by bugs, but reportedly I had a smile on my face the entire time. My first real alpine climb was at the age of 11, when my parents and I climbed Overhanging Tower in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. My technical climbing skills developed during my undergraduate years at Stanford University (class of '06), situated just a few hours from Yosemite. Since then, I have lived numerous days following and continuing my parents' boot tracks, mountaineering and alpine climbing all over western North America and especially in the North Cascades of Washington (until 2019 at least, when I moved to Boulder). A serious climbing accident/injury in September 2010 forced me away from climbing for a couple of years, but soon as I could get back on the rock it seems I have been on an insatiable quest for adventure, with renewed motivation, appreciation, wisdom, energy, and strength. Climb on!
One of my hobbies, I suppose, is displaying data in creative ways. My website has a section devoted to some of my recent projects, which include labeled panoramas, route overlays, posters, diagrams, photo comparisons, statistical studies, and more. This has become a unique and surprisingly popular component of my website.
The original intent of this website (which has clearly developed into much more) was to display a collection of some of my photography. I bought my first point-and-shoot digital camera in 2002 and my first DSLR in 2005 (scroll below for more specific info on my camera and lenses). My recent focus has been on aerial photography and night photography. My photography has appeared in various publications, and I sell photo image files upon request.
The scope and size of my website might be intimidating to those first discovering it, but as it has grown well past its initial vision and simple structure, I've endeavored to make it logically organized. Or, if you are the adventurous type, just navigate through the pages on a whim and enjoy whatever armchair adventures you find yourself on!
You can contact me (Steph) at email@example.com.
Being a kid was a blast. Mountains, eating dirt, petting geese, teaching my sister to escape her crib, living in Israel, building lego towers, putting berets in my dad's hair, fishing with my grandpa, playing with guns, climbing rocks, climbing trees, eating more dirt, teaparties with cats, backpacking with my parents, the gameboy phase, suffocating in outhouses, hiking with cousins, .....
Climbing and professional resumes
The trip reports on my website are arranged by location. But it is also interesting to view my adventures in context of when I did them. My first alpine climb was in 1994 (when I was 11 years old!). My alpine adventuring really picked up pace around 2006 and it has been a chronic affliction ever since. For a complete chronological list of my climbing exploits, go to my Trip Report Chronology.
Also, here is a link where you can download my Resume detailing my academic and professional background. I'm somewhat of a free agent for my future career path, so if you think "she'd make a great addition to our team", please contact me.
Recoveries from a Tib/Fib Fracture (2010), ACL+MENISCUS Knee surgery (2020), and Covid-19 (2021)
In September 2010, I suffered a severe tib/fib compound fracture, caused when a rock broke lose while I was climbing Vesper Peak in the North Cascades of Washington. Full of frustrating setbacks and dangerous complications (I nearly lost my foot on two separate occasions), my injury and the resulting recovery was both the most challenging and the most life-enriching mountain I've ever climbed. Click on the link below to read my "Recovery Trip Report #1", a day-to-day account spanning the first year of my recovery.
In late August 2020, I faced another long-term recovery when I blew out my knee while descending from a climb. With an excellent surgeon, dedicated physio, and motivation, I was back and climbing carefully within 4 months and had another great alpine season in Summer 2021 less than a year from surgery. Click on the link below to read my "Recovery Trip Report #2", a year-long account from the day I blew out my knee to one year post surgery.
In Fall 2021, I came down with the dreaded COVID-19 that had swept across the globe for nearly two years at this point and seemed to have no end in sight. COVID hit me pretty hard (although not as hard as it hit some). I was hospitalized for 5 days, and the recovery took a few months to get back to normal. I proceeded to write "Recovery Trip Report #3" to document my experience with this nasty virus.
Fasting and Keto
Over the years, I've gained a greater appreciation for how nutrition plays an important role in heath and fitness, and how your diet can really become a big player in your lifestyle. Throughout the early 2000's, my diet evolved from high-sugar processed foods to salads and protein shakes. Although I had always performed at a high level on whatever I ate, my overall body began to feel much better. In 2017, my I began to experiment with fasting and the ketogenic diet. It had initially begun as a way to try to heal some gut problems I was dealing with, but I soon began to realize the positive effects on athletic performance, specifically energy and endurance. The ketogenic diet and occasional fasts have become a part of my lifestyle. Click the link below to read a "trip report" for a 7-day fast I did in 2018, where I discuss my experiences with fasting and the ketogenic diet.
I cannot seem to go climbing without a camera. Here is a list of my photography equipment.
COMPACT DIGITAL OPTION 1 (Point-and-Shoot): Canon PowerShot ELPH 160 (20.0 MP) (Apr 2015-present)
I almost always have a camera with me when I rock climb. My "climbing camera" setup involves a camera case equipped with a carabiner that I clip to my climbing harness, and an extendable tether attaching the camera and the case so that the camera can be dropped and not lost. With this setup, I can easily whip out the camera mid-pitch. The light and slim ELPH 160 has been my climbing camera of choice from April 2015 onward. The ELPH 160 was an upgrade for the Canon SD1200 (my climbing camera from August 2009-April 2015). My climbing cameras live a rugged life, and usually last just a single season before I replace it with another I usually find on ebay.
COMPACT DIGITAL OPTION 2 (some Manual features): Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 (20.2 MP) (Aug 2017-present)
Over the recent years as I've focused more on technical climbing than backpacking adventures, my SLR has become too cumbersome and expensive for the fast-and-light approach. But my purely automatic point-and-shoot climbing camera is a bit inadequate for capturing wider angles, morning and evening light, and various creatures and plants along the way. Since I adventure in such cool places, it is important to me to have an adequate camera. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 has been a great option. It is my default camera for any hike or overnight trip. Like my ELPH 160, I have the RX100 set up so that it clips to my harness and can be taken up a technical climb. The RX100 is heavier and bulkier (and pricier) than the ELPH 160, but it does take better photos, so if the coolness of the area I am climbing in warrants the better quality of the RX100 over its additional weight, I take the RX100 on a climb.
SLR: Canon 7D Digital SLR (18.0 MP) (Feb 2012-present)
This is a great body to support my line up of Canon Lenses (10-22mm wide angle, 24-105mm zoom, 400mm telephoto, 100mm macro). Right now, with climbing as my focus and my compact digital camera documenting my adventures, my SLR doesn't see much use. Every spring I do pull it out to do some bird photography. Interests and time allocations in life ebb and flow, and someday I am sure I will pick up my SLR again with gusto. I still have aspirations of doing another major birding roadtrip.
For a full list of all of the cameras and lenses I have owned, their specifications, as well as a summary of the weight of my camera setup, see the following page:
Some of my publications
A list of my climbing- and photography-related publications.