who we are
Learn more about us and how we got our start!
Athena Rock Climbing was founded in 2012 by Kelly Fields (she/her) as a way to bring women together to teach them how to become more knowledgeable Trad climbers. We had the intention of hosting one event during our opening season. By the end of our first season we had hosted three events in Seneca Rocks, WV.
Since then we have gone on to host events year round, migrating seasonally between Seneca Rocks, WV and Joshua Tree, CA. We have helped hundreds of women advance their climbing skills while making valuable connections with other women. Participants have gone on to become professional climbing guides, climb long routes in the alpine, as well as make life-long friendships with other women.
As we have grown, we have made it a priority to create more opportunities for women in climbing by building a team of professional female guides, creating apprenticeship opportunities for women aspiring to become guides, and by supporting the women behind the scenes at our events by seeking out female chefs, photographers, and Airbnb hosts.
Each of our events incorporates a family connection that was an integral part of Kelly's growth as a climber. Kelly grew up climbing with her family who played a large role in helping us get these events off the ground. Her mother cooks delicious meals for the events, her father and brother travel to events to take photographs, and her sister (a former professional guide) has guided for many events. We are a small business with a big heart.
Climbing can do so much more than push you physically. Trad climbing especially is a sport that works your body and mind. The mental benefits of coping with fear and other challenges will carry over into your daily life. This is a trade that can take you all over the world, introducing you to different cultures, belief systems, and people. Trad climbing is about having an adventure with the people you love, and Athena Rock Climbing is about sharing those adventures with other women. Our only word of caution before embarking on this adventure is to watch out because it is highly addictive!
We have had many guides since we first got started. Scroll down to learn more about our current guide team. These women are the heart and soul of what we do. We're grateful to them and to the women before them that helped us get our start!
Kelly was practically born trad climbing. From the tender age of two, Kelly was out exploring and scaling mountains with her family all over the country. Kelly’s real passion has always been for traditional adventure climbing and she has an impressive list of accomplishments and first ascents to her name.
At 18 Kelly ran from the concrete jungle to the hills of West Virginia to begin an apprenticeship with the highly respected Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides. It was there that Kelly found her calling as a climbing guide. In 2011 Kelly founded Athena Rock Climbing (as Chicks With Nuts), a series of women’s only climbing events designed to help women advance their skills together on the rock. Kelly traveled cross country to complete her continuing education through the Professional Climbing Guide Institute in the winter of 2015 in Joshua Tree. After spending the week in Joshua Tree, Kelly decided on a seasonal migration to the desert to fulfill her dream of guiding year round.
Kelly now lives the dream guiding for half the year on the east coast and the other half for us in Joshua Tree. She is always seeking to advance in the field, and became the first female guide to attain the Multi Pitch Guide certification through the PCGI in 2019. Kelly’s quick and quirky sense of humor, her most excellent technical climbing skills, and her dedication to her craft make any day out with her extra special.
Years climbing: 28
Guiding since: Summer 2010
Certification: PCGI Multi-Pitch Guide, WFR, CPR
Favorite place to climb: Take me anywhere wild and remote, it will be my new favorite place
We met Tori when she first started climbing in Seneca Rocks, WV in 2013 and were immediately drawn to her outgoing, enthusiastic nature. Born and raised in Peabody, Massachusetts with five other sisters, Tori grew up playing ice hockey, exploring in the woods, and living in a world that was run by the girls. When Tori fell in love with Trad climbing she was shocked by how male dominated it was and began to seek out ways to climb long routes with other women. She started out in search of female mentorship and has since transformed into a knowledgeable climbing mentor herself.
Tori has climbed throughout the US exploring iconic areas in the South East, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and many more places in between. Her love for climbing has brought her to international climbing destinations including, but not limited to, Thailand, Argentina, and Cuba. Tori learned how to guide in a teaching context and approaches each day as an opportunity to empower her students. She is a certified Single Pitch Guide through the Professional Climbing Guides Institute, and has been guiding for Chicks With Nuts since 2014. When she is not climbing or guiding, you can most likely find Tori immersed in a good book, playing guitar, or finding ways to obliterate all the plastic in the world in an effort to save the planet.
Years climbing: 9
Guiding since: Summer 2014
Certification: PCGI Single Pitch Guide, WFR, CPR
Favorite place to climb: Seneca Rocks, WV
Katie is an avid climber, skier, and runner. She is passionate about sharing the outdoors, especially rock climbing, with others. She has been providing opportunities for women to experience outdoor recreation since 2013, leading multiple climbing excursions for women and girls as young as six.
She began professionally guiding in 2017 in effort to better facilitate women’s climbing courses. While she enjoys guiding clients from all backgrounds, she has a special place in her heart for guiding adolescent girls, adaptive athletes, and the special needs community. She aspires to complete the AMGA’s Rock Guide Program, guide for many years, and retire with her hopefully immortal dog, Kit.
Years climbing: 8
Guiding since: Summer 2017
Certification: AMGA Apprentice Rock Guide, SPI, WFR, CPR, EMT
Favorite place to climb: Eldorado Canyon, CO, Wild Iris, WY, Red Rocks, NV
Originally from Washington, Molly grew up exploring great outdoor spaces of the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Introduced to climbing in 2000 by her father, Molly has continually been climbing from a young age. In 2007 she moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington’s Business School, receiving a degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship. Molly worked in Finance for 7 years before deciding to follow her passions to the outdoor industry. From guiding in Seneca Rocks, WV, to Joshua Tree, CA, and the Sierras, Molly has now been guiding full-time for 4 years. She is currently an Apprentice Rock Guide through the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA), and is also becoming certified in the fields of Alpine and Ski guiding. When not guiding Molly serves as a Ski Patroller, holding an Emergency Medical Responder certification.
During the shoulder seasons Molly follows her passion for the outdoors by finding classic climbing and ski lines, whether it’s the Cascades, the Rockies, or Sierras, you can usually find her natural habitat of the alpine. However, once a year she does venture onto the water for weeks to months long sailing adventures on the open ocean: it helps keep her hydrated.
Over the years Molly has become more integrated into women focused events in the outdoor industry. After working in mostly male environments, Molly has realized just how awesome it is to tackle outdoor sports with a group of ladies. While skeptical at first, she’s become a true believer in the unparalleled environment of women sharing their outdoor passion together. Now she enthusiastically aims to be that lady mentor that she never had.