Salt Lake City, Utah
When climbers talk about keeping up with the best of them, the proverbial "them" includes ultra-badass Brittany Griffith. A committed lifer to the sport and long-time friend of YETI, Griffith has climbed, led, and bolted some of the most challenging routes around the world, collecting once-in-a-lifetime stories that deserve a page of their own. While her skills beyond climbing are vast and venerable, her self-described "Gypsy Kitchen" cooking style deserves a mention, keeping her fellow climbers well-fed with what's on hand. Though Griffith may be geographically hard to pin down, she's always at home on the rock.
What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning when you climb?
Time to get up and go to work!
Where is your favourite place to climb?
Any place I haven't yet been.
Tell us a favourite story from a day out.
I was in Jordan climbing in the incredible desert landscape of Wadi Rum (think Lawrence of Arabia and Red Planet) with my biggest climbing hero. We had returned to the guest house one night and the man who ran the place informed me that his wife (one of two) who did the cooking was very interested in learning how to make new dishes and asked if I could teach her. I was very honored - though I have previous experiences in the other eight Islamic countries I had traveled to, I had never been inside the private living quarters of a Muslim woman. I quickly walked to the tiny little corner store for groceries. These places offer very limited supplies; onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, potatoes, bananas, rice, canned fish, boxed milk; you get the picture? But I managed to find almost everything I needed for a recipe I myself had learned from a chain-smoking, toothless Sicilian man in a tiny town in Sicily years before. Back at the compound, I knocked on a door that I had been seeing women in long flowing black abayas and head concealing burqas enter through.
The woman who opened the door was wearing a tank top, yoga pants, and had her hair down. I was confused. I didn't know who this person was. I asked for Fatima. She giggled and said, "Me, I am Fatima."
I blushed and felt ashamed and ignorant. I never, ever, even considered that they would wear different clothing inside their homes. Stuffed into the waistband of her lycra tights was a ten-inch knife in a leather sheath. This also surprised me. She sensed my reaction. "For cooking," she said with a sly smile. I knew that was no cooking knife. She showed me around her modest kitchen and it had everything I needed. As we peeled potatoes, she told me about her family. One of her daughters was two years older than one of her mother's daughters. I told her I didn't have kids and wasn't going to. She didn't ask why. We were just two women, two sisters, sharing cooking. No judgment. It didn't matter to me that she was one of two wives, it didn't matter to her that I was sleeping in the same room with three men I wasn't married to.
As I sautéed the onions and garlic, I realised that although climbing is my excuse to travel into remote and foreign places, cooking has allowed me access into parts of the world that I would have never otherwise been privy to.
How do you up your game year after year?
I seek out a more remote place to explore and climb than the time before.
If you could do anything better, what would it be?
Sharpen my kitchen knives.
Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to?
People with passion, and people with compassion.
What haven't you accomplished that you aspire to do in your lifetime?
Write a book.
What would be your day job if you weren't doing what you currently doing?
Wildlife Poacher Spy. I'm not sure that's a job, but it should be.