“I had the rare and tal­ented abil­ity to epic on al­most any­thing,” she says of her early days.

Climbing - - THE CLIMB PORTRAIT -

brother to the Sportrock Climb­ing Cen­ter in Rockville. While he was un­en­thused, Mi­randa took to it im­me­di­ately. She joined the Sportrock climb­ing team, and started work­ing at the gym when she was 17 so she could af­ford the mem­ber­ship. She mostly boul­dered and toproped, break­ing into 5.10 and V3. Al­though she placed third in one comp, Mi­randa never got com­pet­i­tive. For her, climb­ing was “just for fun.”

MI­RANDA LEFT HOME in 2002 for St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land, where she and I met as two of the only climbers on cam­pus. When she chose St. Mary’s, which was hours from the near­est de­cent rock, climb­ing was still a pe­riph­eral ac­tiv­ity for her. Still, Mi­randa’s in­ter­est in the sport only grew, and she took week­end trips to nearby ar­eas like Coop­ers Rock and Franklin in West Vir­ginia, An­napo­lis Rocks and Carde­rock in Mary­land, and Vir­ginia’s Great Falls. Oc­ca­sion­ally, she would scrounge up some friends for the eight-hour push to the New River Gorge.

She started a school-sanc­tioned climb­ing club, and shortly there­after, stud­ied abroad in Granada, Spain, pur­su­ing an in­ter­est in the Moor­ish and Span­ish cul­ture in Andalucia. In Granada, Mi­randa blos­somed as a climber, fre­quent­ing the nu­mer­ous lime­stone crags sur­round­ing the city. She be­gan lead­ing sport climbs, and sent her first 5.12 that same se­mes­ter.

I HAVE A DIS­TINCT MEM­ORY of Mi­randa, bent over a pot of rice next to a des­o­late gas sta­tion in Kansas, si­phon­ing electricity to make a mea­ger din­ner for us on our way out west. It was May 2006, Mi­randa had just grad­u­ated (I still had an­other year), and we were beel­in­ing it from Mary­land to Yosemite, where Mi­randa was hop­ing to land a job. After three years in school to­gether, we were good friends and climb­ing part­ners.

“I had, like, $13 in my bank ac­count,” Mi­randa re­calls. “I had a crash­pad, rope, draws, a har­ness, and some clothes. That was it. I had never even touched a cam.”

She found a job that first sum­mer in the high coun­try, wash­ing dishes and clean­ing bath­rooms at the Tuolumne Lodge. In spite of the drudge work, Mi­randa was hooked on Yosemite. She came back again the next sum­mer, and then again. In her third sea­son, she started trad climb­ing. “I had the rare and tal­ented abil­ity to epic on al­most any­thing,” she says of her early days.

She and her friend Mauri­cio Salmerón took 30 hours to climb the Red Di­he­dral (5.10) on her first trip to the Sier­ras’ In­cred­i­ble Hulk in 2008. Hav­ing planned a ca­sual car-to-car day, they in­stead climbed slower than ex­pected, got lost on the des­cent, and left half their rack be­hind as they bailed down the wrong gully. On an­other oc­ca­sion, on what is many climbers’ first long Val­ley route— Royal Arches (5.10b or 5.7 C1)—she was in a party of five, and they were rap­pelling un­til 2 a.m. Six years later, she would be guid­ing the 16-pitch route in cruiser half-day out­ings.

In the off-sea­son, Mi­randa climbed in the Val­ley or In­dian Creek, col­lect­ing un­em­ploy­ment to af­ford food and gas. Twice she trav­elled to China to work as a climb­ing guide in Yang­shuo. She climbed as much as she could af­ford, stretch­ing her funds un­til the start of the next sea­son.

IN 2010, I made my an­nual pil­grim­age to Yosemite to visit Mi­randa. We had been climb­ing part­ners

OAKLEY GAZES AT SPRING LAKE WALL IN SE­QUOIA NA­TIONAL PARK, CAL­I­FOR­NIA.

OAKLEY ON A CA­SUAL LEAD OF IN­DIAN CREEK’S POLYGRIP (5.11+).

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