Mini-Episode 9: How The F*ck Are You? (No, really.)

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We’ll be back on April 1st with two new full episodes. Until then, …

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We’ll be back on April 1st with two new full episodes. Until then, enjoy two mini-episodes today and on March 1st while I try to do things like not burn a film festival into the ground (just kidding…I think!) if you’re in Denver, Colorado March 5th through 8th, come out to the No Man’s Land Film Festival Annual Flagship event for four days of films, workshops and guest speakers. This mini-episode is comprised of episode ten with Corey Mowry, which if you haven’t listened to yet, we highly recommend. Also, who is this “we” I keep referring to?

This episode is brought to you by Deuter, Gnarly Nutrition, Allez Outdoors, and Têra Kaia. Music by: “Southside” by Lee Rosevere, “Ichill” by Kakurenbo, “Blue Highway”, “60’s Quiz Show”, “Well and Good”, “Knock Knock”, “Pives and Flarinet”, “Good Times”, “La Di Da”, and “Tweedlebugs” by Podington Bear. A HUGE thank you to Chad Crouch, aka Podington Bear, for the support and to Peter Darmi for all of his help.

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(KATHY KARLO): This podcast is sponsored by Deuter, one of the leading backpack brands that will help you hit the trails with confidence and comfort, but most importantly–your snacks. Deuter has a history of first ascents and alpine roots. Their head of product development even climbed Everest once, in jeans (hashtag not fake news.) Deuter is known for fit, comfort, and ventilation. Founded in 1898, Deuter believes in good fitting backpacks, so you can focus on way cooler things like puppies, pocket bacon, and gettin’ sendy, whether at the crag or in the alpine.

– We’re working with Better Help to connect you to licensed therapists. They’ll match you with the perfect therapist for a fraction of the cost of traditional therapy. You know who goes to therapy? Prince Harry. Emma Stone. Jenny Slate. Kesha. Therapy is beautiful—everyone should go to therapy. Go to to sign up and receive one free week. It helps support this show, and it helps support you.

– This podcast gets support from Gnarly Nutrition, one of the leading protein supplements that tastes “whey” better than they need to because they use quality natural ingredients. So, whether you’re a working mom who runs circles around your kids on weekends or an unprofessional climber trying to send that 5.13 in the gym, Gnarly Nutrition has all of your recovery needs. The only question you need to ask yourself is: Are you a sucker for anything that tastes like chocolate ice cream? (Yeah, me neither.) Gnarly Nutrition is designed to enhance your progress—and taste like a milkshake, without all the crap.

(FEMALE VOICE): Today we’re going to talk about “allez”. “Allez” means “come on!” in a way, or to encourage. Ok! We are done with the simple and normal uses of “allez”, now let’s cut to the chase:

(KK): Allez Outdoor Personal Care products are made by climbers for those who love the outdoors. Their rich and repairing ingredients for their skincare collection are inspired by desert landscapes, and their simple and recyclable packaging makes them eco-sustainable. Allez commits to protecting the open spaces that we love by partnering with the Access Fund and 1% for the Planet. That’s Allez Outdoor: “A-L-L-E-Z”. Allez Outdoor—made by climbers, for those who love the outdoors.

Têra Kaia, made by women for women, is redefining the standard with sizing. The TOURA basewear top is their swim-friendly sports bra that’s designed for outdoor adventure—so you can hike, sweat, and climb to the summit in comfort. You can even wear it camping for days on end—it just about never gets gross (trust me, I have tried.)  You can take 10% off with code “fortheloveofclimbing” and show your support for the show. Go ahead and throw out your other sports bras because #basewear is the only top you’ll pack. Feel naked, go anywhere, look great.

– You know how sometimes your life gains momentum, slowly at first and then suddenly, before you even realize it, it implodes in front of you without any given warning? Except that the signs were all there but you’re too sleep-deprived and riddled with coffee induced anxiety to take notice. And, of course, I mean all of this in a good way. I know you relate because I see you. I see the hustlers and the creatives and the working mamas with kids and those of you working weekend jobs to get out of debt but still make time to make it to the gym for an evening session. I love climbing and it inspires me in a lot of ways—but to be honest? These are the kinds of things and people that inspire me the most.

I moved here for the winter with a bunch of intentions, one of them to complete a project I started dreaming up in 2014. On December 19th, I was the first woman to send the Triple Crown of the Tennessee Wall, which is a series of 5.12c roof cracks put up by Rob Robinson in the eighties. The whole project was a perfect metaphor for where I was in my life last year, and throughout it all, there was a voice in my brain that thought I would fail—but I think the whole point was to challenge myself with an impossible goal that would take a little bit of grit. Having gone through the most difficult year of my life, now when I find myself between a rock and hard place, I remind myself of the importance of adversity. When I feel like I’m about to let go, I tell myself that I‘ve already done the hardest thing—and that this is just a rock climb. Perspective is a funny thing.

Having completed all three now, I see and understand the process of big projects in a whole new light. Sending these climbs honestly mattered less to me than trying something that seemed impossible. I came to the southeast because after one life-altering moment, an emotionally turbulent year, and so much sadness and pain because of it, I needed to heal and to be around people who made space for me to heal. And I also needed to physically throw myself at something. What I’ve learned through this process is that the moment you can unlock one part of the puzzle, the next thing feels more possible because of it. So now, I know that I can tackle the next thing and then the next thing after that, whatever that may be. And no matter the impending storm ahead—I’m prepared in ways that I couldn’t have imagined last year, or honestly? At any point in my life. My toolbox looks a lot different this year. And every day, I self-compassionately add new resources to my box. This year I’ve added creativity, self-awareness, mental flexibility, new coping mechanisms, and most importantly: resilience. People are always saying that it’s about the journey, but they never actually tell you how far you have to go. Until you find out for yourself, you’ll never really understand where your limits lie—and most importantly, what it takes to break through them. Because in the end, how hard you climb and how hard you try are two different things. This is the longest I’ve been in one place and I’m glad I took the time to be here. And thanks for being here with me.

Honestly, it’s a lifetime of work but sometimes you need to create that space for yourself, so I hope you’ll all take this as a reminder to hold yourself with compassion. In our upcoming April episode, we’ll talk about trauma and finding “pockets of normal” in your life after going through impossible pain. Speaking of episodes, we’ve been cranking out episodes once a month since our launch in September 2018. As I’m getting ready to head back west, No Man’s Land Film Festival is heading into its busiest season and stacks upon stacks of audio files have been sitting on my computer desktop, untouched since Christmas. I had to be really honest with myself about my workload which wasn’t easy—but kinda necessary for my mental sanity. So, we’re taking a little break and we’ll be back with two full episodes on April 1st and 15th. Stay tuned for another mini-episode on March 1st. And if you’re in Denver, Colorado March 5th through 8th, come out to our Annual Flagship event for four days of films, workshops and guest speakers. This mini-episode is comprised of episode ten with Corey Mowry, which if you haven’t listened to yet, we highly recommend. Also, who is this “we” I keep referring to?

– You’re listening to For the Love of Climbing Podcast. This is not a climbing podcast. Well, sorta. This is a funny, sad, and somewhat uncomfortable podcast about choosing vulnerability and talking opening about our pain. This podcast is sponsored by Dirtbag Climbers. Here’s the show.

(footsteps on gravel trail)

(KK): Hi. Hey, you guys— if you have a minute, I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor?


(KK): So, I run a podcast and I’m taking audio clips from people on the trail today and I’m just asking them one question.


(KK): How are you doing?

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m great.

(KK): (laughs) How are you today?

(MALE VOICE): I’m great! (laughs)

(KK): How are you?

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m wonderful.

(MALE VOICE): I’m doing great today! (laughs)

(KK): So the question is, how are you?

(MALE VOICE): I’m spent. We climbed all day, it was awesome.

(MALE VOICE): I’m great. How are you?

(KK): How are you?

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m good, thanks.

(FEMALE VOICE): Very well, thank you.

(MALE VOICE): I am good enough.

(KK): How are you?


(KK): I just want to know: how are you?

(MALE VOICE): I’m good. I’m good. I’m probably, yeah! I’m pretty good!

(KK): When someone asks, “How are you?” do you answer honestly? For most Americans (and yes, it is a US thing), the question gets thrown around as a casual greeting. Most people don’t expect you to respond with anything other than, “I’m good!” or “Fine, how are you?” Nobody actually expects someone to say, “It’s going pretty badly!”—because how do you respond to that? Awkward. And—there are probably a million reasons why this happens: we’re too busy, the honest answer is kinda depressing, and wouldn’t the world just be a better place if we didn’t talk to anyone at all? (Just kidding.)

Yeah, we can’t always be a hundred percent honest. It’s just not the reality of things. But the thing is, when you’re feeling kinda blue or in the middle of a shit storm, it can be a really difficult question, and it takes a lot of patience to answer it when you kinda feel like crap. But it can also be a nice reminder that we’re all human, and you never really know what someone is going through at any given time.

(COREY MOWRY): I think transparency and being open is the perfect place to start, you know what I mean? Not being scared to talk about how you’re feeling or how your friends are feeling or how you’re family’s feeling. You don’t have to save everyone. You aren’t expected to do that, but there are little things like, “Hey. I’m around if you need anything this weekend,” or “How are you feeling?” Just little stuff like that will go a long way. And, you know, there’s professional help now that we didn’t even have ten years ago. You can see a therapist online now and you don’t even have to go into an office. You know, with all of these options, this rate shouldn’t be going up. If anything, the least we can do is be transparent and talk about it and not be scared to open up and be like, “I’m a guy. I’ve never been great about talking about my feelings, but here I am. This is who I am, this is what I’ve been through. I know you all are struggling with different things as well. Let’s recognize that in each other and tell each other, “Hey. I got you.” Let’s start there and see what happens.

(FEMALE VOICE): If someone tells you something tough they are dealing with and your first instinct is to let a platitude fly: please don’t. I know it makes you uncomfortable, but I’m refusing to say, “I’m fine” when I’m really not. When I was in high school, I lost my virginity to a sexual assault. This sent me into a downward spiral of self-harm and disordered eating, but I was able to climb my way out the hole I dug—literally. So, I stopped saying, “I’m fine.” Who does that help? The person who is asking? No! You need to see this, too. You need to see what it takes to come back from this because one day, you might have to as well. Maybe someone can draw strength from my willingness to talk about this. I’m here to listen, and I’ll spare you the platitudes.

(MALE VOICE): So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot actually and have tried to get away from just saying, “Good! How are you?”—to which somebody usually replies, “Good! How are you?” And maybe neither of us even slows down to listen to even listen for a response. But, I think just noting that we get stuck in this pattern can lead to a more meaningful conversation. Actually had a conversation with a coworker about this recently and we talked about what would it look like and what it would require if we gave people the time and space to truly answer the question.

(FEMALE VOICE): When I hear the question, “How are you doing?”, I think, “Wow! What an overloaded question.” And it’s just become so common for us to use this question as small talk. But when people ask me, “How are you doing?” I genuinely just tell them exactly how I’m doing. Because it’s not a light question and I usually don’t ask people that question lightheartedly. And I really want to know how they’re actually doing. So, I’m completely honest about it and it’s pretty funny to see how people react.

(FEMALE VOICE): When people ask me, “How are you doing?” I usually just respond with, “I’m ok.” because I’m not doing great usually—and I’m not doing terribly, usually. And it’s satisfactory when people don’t really want to know how you’re doing; it’s just a cordial greeting.

(FEMALE VOICE): So, today I’m definitely a little stressed out about the ever-growing mountain of things I need to get done. But I’m feeling confident that I can—I can do it!

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m feeling desperate to find a new job. I keep thinking it will get better, and it doesn’t and it’s been eighteen years now.

(MALE VOICE): Hey, Kathy. Thanks for asking. I’m doing really well after having the flu twice in 2019, being weak as a kitten, and losing all my climbing fitness and having to postpone all my climbing goals for the year. But I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m slowly starting to climb again. So, if anybody out there listening is dealing with their own illness and they’re trying to claw their way back to fitness: I encourage you to be patient, allow yourself to rest and heal, don’t worry if you have to come back and climb 5.4—because climbing is rad whether it’s 5.14 or 5.4. So, eventually, you’re going to get back out there and climb again.

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m moving in with my boyfriend today, so I’m at my old house and there’s just a few more boxes to take over and I’m here by myself and I—I actually feel a little bit sad, even though it’s a really exciting time. It’s sort of sad to feel like you might be losing your independence a little bit, and it’s a little bit scary and there’s a lot on my mind. But we’ll just see what happens from here on out.

(FEMALE VOICE): How am I doing? I’m doing ok. But also, I have a lot of responsibility that’s stressing me out and making me anxious. And I’ve been doing some work to be more honest with myself, and as a result, feel exhausted and vulnerable and like I’m about to cry more often than I’d like.

(MALE VOICE): How am I is a hard question to answer for most people, but for me, it’s pretty simple: I’m pissed. I’m pissed at the state of our government. Pissed at my body. Pissed at the fact that I can’t get back into climbing the way I wanna get back into climbing. But I’m also very grateful. So, when I get past those moments, I look at my gratitude for the people that I have around me, for the love that I have in my life, for sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, moonsets, and dogs. And I’m ok.

(FEMALE VOICE): “How am I?” That’s the toughest question for me to answer because it changes on a daily, hourly, minute timeframe. It’s easy to lie about it because there are good things going on in my life, but sometimes when you have time to think, you realize you’re missing out on the things you want most. And that is terrifying, and sometimes you have no fucking clue how to balance that.

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m grateful, and I’m happy to be here sitting on a boat in a beautiful harbor. But I’ve been very depressed, and menopause has been a huge struggle for me and I have a lot of body pain. And it’s hard to see my way out of the heaviness of it all sometimes. I’m naturally a positive person, but this has really kicked me in the ass—and I’m struggling. It’s been a very, very hard time in my life.

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m tired. Tired of feeling alone—of feeling like I have to protect myself all the time. I meet new people and there’s just always something that makes me put up those walls. And I just wish I could let them down.

(MALE VOICE): How am I? (laughs) I guess it depends on the day. Some days, the Paxil works a little better than others. My life, objectively, is pretty amazing. I’m a white male in America and I’m fairly healthy. Sometimes I’m nervous and I’m anxious. I don’t know. How am I?

(FEMALE VOICE): It took me over fifty years, but I think I can actually say I’m happy and content now. I have a new job that I like and recently got remarried to a wonderful man who shares my passions and takes wonderful care of me. Sure, I have bad days and I often worry about my kids up in college—but I can’t complain. I’m still not used to seeing my body aging so quickly, but growing old is better than the alternative. A few years ago, I had a brief brush with cancer that I survived, but my sister didn’t survive hers. Life has been good to me, and I appreciate how fortunate I am.

(MALE VOICE): I’m great, but my body is not so great. I’ve got a raging infection of valley fever in my lungs that has eaten a few large cavities into them. So, sometimes it hurts to breathe and my energy is way down from normal. I’m still getting out to do a lot of the things that I love outside, just a lot less of that.

(MALE VOICE): I feel slightly uncomfortable admitting this since I know not everyone’s in the same place that I am, but I’m actually great! I’ve hit all my climbing bucket list items, you know, like: big walls, big mountains, hard trad leads, good sport flashes, et cetera. I have a successful career doing something I love. I’m happily married. I live in a fantastic area. You know, in short, I’ve lived exactly the kind of life I dreamed of as a young adult. All the great dreams of my life have come true—and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

(FEMALE VOICE): I’m not doing super great. I’m really angry and jaded right now. I’ve had two incidents this month, back-to-back. One of which was an unexpected pregnancy that ended in abortion, and the other being a climbing accident that ended up either dislocating or breaking my tailbone. So, I don’t know which one yet. And these happened because I trusted people I shouldn’t have. And I’m hoping that the lesson here isn’t that I can’t trust people anymore.

(FEMALE VOICE): Hey, Kathy. I wanted to answer your question, “How are you?” And right now, I’m really frustrated because I’m naive. I just got semi-taken advantage of by an Uber driver on the street who just tried to, like, force me to kiss him which was really strange. And now I’m finding solitude in this cemetery. I think I’m…I think I’m fine. So, this is the third time in a month that a guy has made a sexual advance towards me. And the fact that this has happened so consecutively really makes me question how other people perceive me. Am I naive? Do I have to filter myself, which is so incredibly difficult to do—I don’t want to filter myself. I want to be nice and friendly and open to people and offer some form of vulnerability, but when things like this happen, it makes me want to close myself off. It makes me feel gross, like I’ve given too much to someone because they think that they can act that way towards me. Yeah, so. That’s how I’m feeling right now.

(FEMALE VOICE): How’m I doing? Hm. Thanks for asking, but I really don’t know. A couple of weeks ago, I was in an avalanche after ice climbing. Standing at the base of the climb and there were six of us. I’m lucky to be alive. Two of the women were carried and buried, and we couldn’t get one out in time to save her. I’m going to the memorial service on Saturday in Canada. So, I don’t know how I’m doing. I’m pushing it all down I think and will have to deal with it later.

(MALE VOICE): How am I. How am I, really? Ugh. Exhausted. Tired. Scared. It’s just—being a solo artist doing your own thing—and I know that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Not having something behind you, just doing it all on your own, is just like free soloing all the time. Like, every day you wake up and you look at your email and it’s like starting another pitch. You know? I don’t know. Things go really well and you get super excited, but things don’t go great like a month later, and you don’t have any work and nobody’s buying what you’re selling. And you’re just like, “Ok. It’s that time of the year again when I think about, ‘What should I do instead? Should I go back to school and maybe be a nurse?’” or I don’t know what. Well, anyway. You probably can’t use this, but I’m just saying hi. Hope you’re doing well.

(FEMALE VOICE): Great now!

(MALE VOICE): But you’re shaking and it’s not because you’re cold. It’s because you’re still terrified.

(FEMALE VOICE): I was terrified! I don’t know! I’m terrified of heights. And I was so close to the rock. And every time I looked down, I wanted to throw up.

(FEMALE VOICE): Today, everything feels like a struggle! I had therapy today and I went to a waterfall, but everything feels kind of conflicted. I’m going through a recent breakup and I just don’t really know how to feel. I’m going, looking at the memories and not really knowing how to feel about them. I have a lot of support, but I still feel really alone. And I just feel like I’m too much and not enough at the same time. And I’m trying to be ok with not being ok. That’s me today.

(MALE VOICE): How is one doing? That’s a question easy to dread. Brooding, disappointed and upset about so many things, both within myself and outside in the world that I see going on. How do I feel about it, and what I could change about it? Well, I guess it would matter that first, I could change myself and maybe, by that example that some way, I could change them.

(KK): Even though I still have no idea what I’m doing—things are happening. And if you’d like to help out and support this podcast, please check out (that’s P-A-T-R-E-O-N) where you can sponsor us for as little as $1 per episode. It really helps keep this podcast going, and I’m so grateful for all of your help. Special shout out to Cameron MacAlpine because he makes this thing sound good.

– You’re listening to For the Love of Climbing Podcast. A huge thank you to Deuter, one of the leading backpack brands that will help you hit the trails with confidence and comfort. And a big thank you to Gnarly Nutrition for supporting this podcast and the messages that we share. Gnarly Nutrition supports a community of vulnerability and equality—and tastes like a milkshake, without all the crap. A big shout out to Allez Outdoor for supporting the Access Fund and 1% for the Planet. Allez Outdoor Personal Care products are made by climbers for those who love the outdoors. And thanks to Têra Kaia. Go ahead and throw out your other sports bras because #basewear is the only top you’ll pack. Feel naked, go anywhere, look great.

Support companies who support this podcast—we couldn’t do it without them. If you liked what you heard, you can leave a review on iTunes or give us a like—like all good things, you can find us on the internet. Until next time.

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