This month, we’re shining the spotlight on FA staff member Lisa Ragins. Lisa is a mother of two (twins no less!), a runner, a serial tie-dyer, and a constant presence at First Ascent Avondale. She has the gift of hospitality in spades. In fact, we dare you to try to hang around First Ascent for more than a week without being offered one of her homemade baked goods. Read more about Lisa below, and be sure to say hi next time you see her.  Thanks Lisa for all you do to make First Ascent a warm, welcoming place!

How did you get into climbing?

When people find out that I have 19-year-old twins who have been climbing since they were 5, I am often asked if I got them into climbing. No, they got me into it!   Want more details than that? Ask me next time you see me

What do you love about climbing?  

Other than Dave Hudson? I like that climbers of different ages and abilities can all enjoy the sport together, indoors and outdoors! So many good mentors and mentoring! It is such an incredibly supportive, welcoming community of people having fun, solving problems, working on projects, sharing experiences, staying fit without ever feeling like you are working out.  Always an adventure! It was especially fun to raise two climbers and go on climbing adventures together. I highly recommend it!

Bouldering or sport climbing? Make sure to tell us why.  

I definitely love sport climbing over bouldering!  Less chance of injury if you are on a rope. Plus, longer routes/problems are more satisfying to send.  That being said, I actually really like bouldering at red rocks outside in Vegas. Fortunately, it is a great place for sport climbing too.

What is your favorite place to climb outdoors? What other outdoor activities do you participate in?

A great outdoor climbing area that I love is Red Rocks just outside Vegas!  Beautiful scenery, incredible sunsets, fun bouldering, great sport climbing, a chance to meet people from all over the world, great nightlife, and beautiful weather! However, no Miguel’s Pizza there… So, Red River Gorge is my driving-distance, camping, pizza, Ale 8 climbing destination, with Drive By, Motherlode, Gold Coast, Solar Collector, Chocolate Factory, Dark Side being my favorite crags!  Get The Best of the Red Climbing Guidebook!

Oops, I can’t forget how wonderful Chattanooga is for outdoor bouldering! Plus if it’s raining there are Highpoint Climbing and The Bouldering Authority to climb at, plus many good dinner options, a movie theater, and the longest pedestrian bridge over the river there – a must see. Make it part of a nice long run! Stay at the Doubletree for warm chocolate chip cookies or stay at the Crash Pad, an incredibly cool climbers hostel. And if I am there when you are there, I will make you eggs in a basket for breakfast!  After I get back from my morning long run of course. Don’t worry, I wake up early.

Do you have any particular climbing projects or fitness goals for this year?

My climbing goal this year is to go on at least one more outdoor climbing trip with my kids and to send my first outdoor 5.11.   As for other fitness goals, I love running and I signed up for the Soldier Field 10-miler this May. Anyone else planning on running it?

What keeps you busy when you’re not climbing?

When I am not climbing, I am either working at FA or baking, running, tie-dying, doing garden work, trying to figure out where in the world my kids are, or making homemade pizza dough. What I really want to do is plan a FAmily tie-dye day, making FA logo tie-dye shirts! 

What do you love about Chicago?  

I love the lakefront. I have a particular site where I hang my hammock.  Other than that I will run, bike, and rollerblade on the lakefront paths, enjoying the beaches, museums, riverwalk, and sunrises. By the way, give urban kayaking on the river a try! I had so much fun doing that last summer and plan to get a season membership at Urban Kayaks for unlimited kayaking this summer!

What is your favorite Chicago spot for food, music, art or culture?  

I am a big fan of The Art Institute of Chicago. I am a member there and their food is artistic and delicious as well!  Ask me and I will most likely take you with me!

What is something about you most people don’t know?  

I used to paint wall murals for a living. Now I just like to draw left handed (I am right handed) with a Sharpie.

Anything else you want to say to the FA Community?   

I really want to thank the First Ascent Founders Dan, Dave, Jon and Joe for dreaming up a place for the FAmily to meet! I have met so many interesting, wonderful people on this path, including my climbing partner Julie! I miss her a bunch as she has moved to Denver, so I am always looking for someone to climb with me.