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  • Writer's pictureSamina Ahmed

Mentorship and Movement with Maiza Lima and She Moves Mountains

When Maiza Lima guides for She Moves Mountains, nights are filled with laughter and days are spent training for climbing. Maiza’s natural charisma and love of climbing is contagious. She is adept at fostering community and developing rapport with her clients on and off the wall. Which is why, on May 9th, 2022, nine participants traveled to central Oregon to partake in a clinic taught by Maiza for She Moves Mountains, a local climbing guide service owned and founded by Lizzy Van Patten. For this event, Maiza designed a movement clinic, and the weekend was earmarked by laughter, good food, and quality time spent climbing on historical routes at Smith Rock State Park.

Photo credit: Jules Jimreivat

Maiza is the sort of person who is willing to take risks in order to grow as an individual. As a young woman, she immigrated to the United States from Brazil with her mother to build a new life. These days, her identity is deeply connected to rock climbing. From the moment Maiza discovered climbing, she was hooked. A few years after she started climbing, she met Lizzy at a crack climbing clinic Lizzy was teaching at Smith Rock. At the time, Maiza wanted to expand her skill set and learn more about crack climbing and leading trad routes. Their friendship quickly bloomed into a progenitive working relationship.

Lizzy works hard to uplift other women in outdoor spaces. She encourages them to take up space in the climbing community and to try new activities they might never have considered before. Lizzy did much more than teach Maiza how to crack climb. She became a mentor to Maiza and facilitated her journey to becoming a climbing guide in her own right. Lizzy provided financial and technical support to Maiza as she began to train and study for rock guiding courses and certification. Maiza’s resilience and charisma are hard to come by, and Lizzy wanted to bring her on board at She Moves Mountains to contribute to the culture of her company. Read more about their friendship here. By the spring of 2022, Lizzy’s mentorship had come full circle. Maiza currently guides and mentors for clients of She Moves Mountains the way Lizzy once did for her.

Photo credit: Jules Jimreivat

“I was nervous because I had never done a movement event. I didn’t want to prepare for it because I just didn’t feel like it was going to be natural,” Maiza says with a smile. “It seemed to be a really fun time. I learned a lot from Lizzy on those two days, it takes me time to learn how to teach.” Maiza’s approach to mentorship works precisely because she is natural and goes with the flow. She adapts her feedback for clients to their particular climbing goals, rather than maintaining rigid structures. Her objective with these clinics is to inspire and support climbers with their current and personal climbing objectives. In order to do this she leans into building relationships and getting to know people so she can assess their needs and respond adaptively. Maiza creates and cultivates a safe and joyous space.

“The cool thing about this event was that eight out of the nine participants who came were past participants. At least two of them came specifically because they met Maiza in Mexico. They came because Maiza was teaching it,” Lizzy explains to me. The event lasted for two days and sold out in two hours. At the event, one of the returning clients led a route for the first time in her life. It was a powerful moment for everybody there. “During the Mexico retreat, Maiza was going above and beyond. Her day did not end with guiding, she took something we had a structure for and she made it a beautiful party, it was a party that made everyone feel welcome. I feel like I’m good at creating an emotional space; Maiza makes it a joyous space,” Lizzy says.

Photo credit: Jules Jimreivat

There are many barriers to entry if someone would like to begin rock climbing. The sport can be dangerous and the need for basic technical skills and knowledge is requisite. Climbing also requires safe and appropriate gear, the ability to locate routes, a basic command of the language employed to keep climbers safe at the crag, and climbing partners who are knowledgeable and fun to climb with. Experienced rock climbers are not always inviting to beginners. Somebody interested in learning how to rock climb may face many challenges before they become confident enough to get out on their own. Part of She Moves Mountain's success can be attributed to the power of representation. People who might never have considered climbing are drawn to be part of a diverse community. There is power in looking at someone you identify with and thinking, “if she can do it, maybe I can do it, too.”

Photo credit: Jules Jimreivat

This blog was originally published by Marmot here.

This blog was photographed by Jules Jimreivat whose work can be found here.

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