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: 30
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
Katie is an AMGA certfified rock guide. She lives and works in Ouray Colorado where she guides rock and ice climbing. Learning to trad climb from Kelly Fields in 2013, Katie is passionate about the women’s climbing events as an entry point for women in climbing. She spends her springs in Joshua tree to guide and instruct the majority of our women’s climbing events. Katie spends her summer sport climbing the local Ouray crags, exploring the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in the fall, ice climbing and skiing all winter long, and re-warming both physically and emotionally in Joshua tree each spring.
Years climbing: 13
Guiding since: Summer 2017
Certification: AMGA Rock Guide, 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.
Born and raised in Yucca Valley, CA, Sarah started climbing when she was in high school. With a passion for sport climbing and bouldering, Sarah is definitely one of the strongest climbers on our guide team. She got her start guiding for another local guide service and joined our team after being inspired by our mission and dedication to getting women in multi-pitch Trad climbing terrain.
Sarah has spent many years living and working in Joshua Tree in the winters and traveling to climb during the summer months. She can be found scaling walls in Ten Sleep, WY, up and down the West and East side of the Sierra Nevada, and everywhere in between.
A talented climber, guide, and instructor Sarah is a quiet powerhouse. She has a knack for teaching movement skills, and we are always inspired by her ability to speak her mind. We are so grateful to have this local on our guide team.
Years climbing: 10
Guiding since: 2019
Certification: PCGI SPG & CPR
Favorite place to climb: Ten Sleep, WY, Tuolumne Meadows, CA, and Joshua Tree, CA
After discovering climbing in 2014, Holly (she/her) quit her corporate job and never looked back. Formerly an industrial process engineer (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Florida), she now committed to building impactful experiences and healthy learning environments for her clients. While Holly's climbing roots are in the eastern United States, has climbed and adventured all over the world, including Thailand, France, Italy, and Nepal.
Holly entered the guiding field teaching for Movement Climbing (formerly Earth Treks) in the Washington DC area and transitioned to guiding full time for Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides, where she continues to work during the summer season. Holly loves adventure climbing as an infinite medium for learning about oneself and building connections with partners. She is a certified Lead Guide through the Professional Climbing Guides Institute and Wilderness First Aid through SOLO. She is a proud cat mom as well as an avid swing and tango dancer/teacher.
Years climbing: 8
Guiding since: 2019
Certification: PCGI Lead Guide, SOLO WFA & CPR
Favorite place to climb: Seneca Rocks, WV; Railay Beach, Thailand; Indian Creek, UT