In the next year, Boulder climber and recent University of Colorado graduate Paige Claassen is making a bid to see as much of the world as she can.
For 12 months, she'll visit a different country each month while climbing and supporting a new nonprofit at every stop. Claassen's global tour, Lead Now, will raise money for various organizations that support women and children around the world, all the while pushing herself as a climber.
The idea for the trip came when Claassen's boyfriend, Jon Glassberg -- who will document the journey for his film production company Louder Than Eleven -- asked if Claassen thought she could climb a 5.14 every month for a year. On the climbing difficulty scale, a 5.14 is high -- it will be challenging, she acknowledged, but with training and focus, she said she thought she could do it.
But she knew she couldn't just climb for a year; she wanted to do more with the trip.
"I've tried that before, it doesn't work for me. I need other things going on," said Claassen, who turned 23 last week. "Climbing is a selfish pursuit in ways because it's very individual. I wanted to find a way to help others throughout my travels."
Glassberg and Claassen discovered Crowdrise, an online fundraising site for charities, and decided to support organizations under Half the Sky Movement, a collective for 32 different nonprofits that support women and children.
Since the trip is completely funded, Claassen and Glassberg are raising money solely for the organizations. Glassberg said it will feel "satisfying" to be able to donate directly to the organizations and visit them to see what those funds can do.
While Claassen is pushing the limits of women's climbing, she can also help women across the world, and that symmetry appealed to her.
Claassen started climbing at age 9, and said it gave her confidence in elementary school as a shy kid. With this trip, Claassen hopes to pass that feeling forward.
Each month, Glassberg will create a "webisode" about the previous month, which the two hope to turn into a festival-length film eventually. They'll travel to South Africa, Russia, Israel, Japan, among other countries while supporting nonprofits like Apne Aap, an Indian organization that helps women and girls escape the sex industry.
They'll finish the year in Claassen's hometown of Estes Park next June and will support Future Without Violence, a U.S. organization working to end domestic violence.
Right up there with her proudest accomplishments in climbing -- like sending Grand Ole Opry (5.14c) and making the first female ascent of God's Own Stone (5.14a) --Claassen ranks graduating from CU high on the list.
WTiffany Anderson, who directs the Leeds Scholars Program at CU, said Claassen is using her marketing degree in a non-traditional way while on her journey. Anderson asked Claassen to advise the school when it created the scholars program last year.
Claassen and Glassberg are both sponsored by Marmot, the company making the Lead Now trip a reality. Anderson said Claassen's experience in the next year should open up doors for her in the world of marketing.
"What she's doing is marrying a couple different things together," Anderson said. "She's marrying her sport with her professional training as a marketer, but then also adding that philanthropy and service piece. It's very innovative."
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.