Christina Lujan, who is Cheyenne/Arapaho/Taos Pueblo, climbing in Utah. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection. Afterward, Christina wrote, “What happens when your friend is Kitty Calhoun? 
Have you ever had a moment where you didn’t know you didn’t know something until you knew it? 
For example, did you know you truly are the only thing stopping you from going further?
I have an incredible amount of power and control in my life, I just never believed it until I was hanging off the side of a cliff and I realized the only thing stopping me from going up was me. 
Like I said…..what happens when your friend is Kitty Calhoun?” 


“That’s not the story I had in mind,” I said in disappointment.  

“Can’t you tell me about the bravest warriors? Those who were brought back from the dead? Didn’t they train during the day and feast at night as they prepared for the battle of Ragnarok?” I asked.

“No. They were just men who killed and got drunk,” the storyteller said. “I will tell a story about Freya, the goddess of love.”

Kim Reynolds and I were meeting with a Norwegian storyteller named Heidi.

We’d just climbed a difficult ice climb in Norway and cameras were rolling to record the exchange for an Outside TV segment.

I had read that Vikings drew courage and inspiration from Norse Mythology and I hoped to hear the storyteller tell a Norse Myth that paralleled our experience. 

Instead, Heidi insisted on telling the story of Freya. 

“Freya wanted to enter Asgard––the heaven made by the gods. But, when she approached Asgard in the nude, it scared the gods because they’d never seen anything like her before. Afraid, the Gods tried to kill her, but in vain. Finally, they accepted Freya and she taught them determination, courage and wisdom.

I was distraught. Freya was not the story I wanted to hear.

I called my storytelling coach for advice.

“Well,” he said. “It might not be the story you want to hear, but it’s the story you need to hear. The story of Freya is about the journey. It’s about acceptance and how we treat each other and the environment while on our summit quests. Love always wins over conquering, using and abusing.”

Twenty years later, I reflect on this story, thinking about how to make positive change through climbing. I believe it starts with making connections and a commitment to sharing resources and listening to how others see the world.  

Meanwhile, the Chicks Scholarship for Women of Color was conceived when Chicks Alumna Jennifer Reikenberg generously pledged her cancelled Mt Baker course-fee to a woman of color to take a Chicks course. Details to be announced soon.

The AMGA, as well as many of our sponsors, also have lists of ways that you can Pass It On!