Editor's Note: Nina Williams is a professional climber, particularly famous for her highball bouldering. Recently, she enrolled at the University of Colorado as a full-time student. As she has gone about finding a new life balance, she made time to head from the classroom to the crag in Estes Park.

As a little kid I loved weaving in and out of the trees behind our house, hoping to hear the chipmunks sing or maybe strike up a conversation with me. I’m keeping that hope alive but these days, life is feeling a little hectic because I just entered CU Boulder as a full-time Communications student balancing a career as a professional climber. I've travelled all over the world to climb, and I still will, but as a student, I now have to be very selective on the commitments I take on, right down to my day-to-day schedule. This is the perfect opportunity to give a closer look at what's in my backyard, and Estes Park is the ideal escape for some close-to-home adventuring. It’s really nice that mountain life - and an amazing place to climb - is just a quick jaunt north on 36.


Feeling a little smooshed 😫 between school and climbing. I figured it’d be simple balancing a class schedule with a training plan. But turns out, when I split my time 50/50 between studying and training, plus maintaining friend/relationships and ‘me’ time... I get a little crushed by everything because I’m not giving 100% to anything. School is great but it’s not the most thrilling thing all the time, and neither are repetitive strength exercises. How can I balance motivation? Well... add a little excitement! When @james_lucas suggested Crack of Fear, an offwidth overlooking Estes Park, I felt nervous and reluctant - all signs I should give it a try 😂 because that’s the point! Why stick with comfortable habits when I could have a melt down hanging off a chicken wing? A much more interesting experience, IMO. @etteloc bore witness to that. Getting eaten by a giant rock feature made me 1000x more grateful for peaceful classroom settings that don’t involve mysterious bruises and desperately over-cammed wide gear. For me, balance doesn’t mean doing it all, because I just CAN’T 😅 But I CAN switch things up and find new sources of motivation! It’s all about fresh perspectives 😉 #climbing #tradclimbing #offwidth

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With my class schedule, balance is more important than ever to me, and balance doesn’t mean doing it all, because I just can't. But I can switch things up and find new sources of motivation! It’s all about fresh perspectives and I can't wait to keep exploring more of the world class rock in Estes Park. For just one example, Wizards Gate is a sweet little sport crag nestled above town. I’ve lived in Colorado for almost 10 years and am still blown away by the amount of climbing this area has to offer. 

Wild Basin, Lower/Upper Chaos, the Diamond, Lumpy, Monastery, Big Thompson, Wizard’s Gate...and even the Performance Park in downtown Estes for some short bolted pitches.  These are just a few of the climbing options within a 10 mile radius of Estes Park. Originally Native Ute and Arapaho land, these areas are beautiful and worthy of a curious heart and appreciative eye. You’ll have to check them out for yourself, if you're open for adventure, you can't go wrong.