Kelly Fields becomes the First Female Certified PCGI Multi-Pitch Guide

We could not be prouder! We want to congratulate our amazing guide, Kelly Fields, for passing her PCGI Multi-pitch guide assessment with flying colors. This grueling 4-day guiding assessment tests high-level guide skills in multi-pitch terrain including advanced rescue techniques, difficult climbing, multi-person short-roping, and all-around skill and capability in demanding terrain. Kelly was pretty much unfazed by the challenge and as she always does, kept calm and rocked on. She now holds the impressive title of the first female to hold a Professional Climbing Guides Institute (PCGI) Multi-Pitch Guide certificate. The world of rock-climbing guiding is exceptionally male-dominated (it is estimated that fewer than 10% of climbing guides in the United States are female) and few of those guides work in such demanding, sometimes dangerous, and challenging terrain. Multi-pitch guiding strenuously tests a guide’s strength, endurance, judgement, route finding, technical skills, and climbing ability. Few individuals of any gender make it to this level of guiding and we are particularly proud that our dear friend, Kelly, has risen to the challenge and earned her title.

At the ripe old age of 27, Kelly has been guiding for nearly a decade and was already the youngest ever female certified PCGI Lead Guide. Kelly was born into a climbing family, and has been ascending walls since she could walk. One of her first memories was summitting the impressive Seneca Rocks when she was five years old (Old Man’s Route, Seneca Rocks—4 pitches, 5.3, with a nice nap on every ledge). By the time she was in her early teens she began leading trad routes at her home crag and learning as much as she could from older, more experienced climbers. As an adult she has gone on to climb numerous big wall routes on El Cap, adventure climb in the high Sierras, Cuba, Greece and Italy, and continues to push herself physically and technically so that she can accomplish all of her climbing goals. When she’s not climbing, she’s probably reading climbing books or articles, spending way too much time on Super Topo and Mountain Project, studying the mechanics of climbing, and continually dialing in her systems. If you’ve ever climbed with Kelly or taken a course with her, you know that her technical prowess is extremely impressive. Her goal has never been to climb the hardest, but to know everything there was to know about rock climbing and become an expert in the field. Her success thus far is a testament to her drive, passion, and insatiable appetite to learn and better herself as a climber and teacher.

Kelly is a consummate guide with years of experience teaching and guiding but she continues to push onward and upward in her career. She has long nurtured other female climbers and she found that there was a huge demand for women’s specific trad and multi-pitch climbing instruction. She saw that there was little available for women wanting to learn traditional and multi-pitch climbing so she took matters into her own hands and became the founder and head guide of Chicks with Nuts, which provides women’s only trad climbing clinics. For years Kelly has mentored other female climbers through the Chicks with Nuts clinics, and strives to empower and grow the female climbing community. She is a much sought-after guide and instructor and has taught clinics at the Flash Foxy Bishop Women’s Climbing Festival since its inception. If this sounds interesting to you or someone you know, there is good news. Cliffhanger Guides is thrilled to present Chicks with Nuts here in Joshua Tree April 12-14th. There are still a few spaces left if you are interested in joining. This is a great opportunity to build your skills and join in an incredible community of Trad Climbing women for adventure and fun. Email us for more information at We love you, Kelly!

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