JANELLE SMILEY is a mountaineering guide with Salt Mountaineering, a company she started with her husband, Mark, in Crested Butte, Colorado. A 5.11 traditional multi-pitch lead climber, Janelle has been all over the world guiding, exploring, climbing and skiing.
Janelle and Mark are about to begin an endeavor to climb more than 164,000 vertical feet on a road trip that will cover over 20,000 miles. The feat: to be the first people ever to climb all fifty of the climbs in the 1979 book, Fifty Classic Climbs Of North America. The two will set out with a film crew in April 2010 to capture high-definition footage of the climbing and the back-story of the experience behind each climb for a public television miniseries and the internet.
Janelle came to her current love for mountaineering and climbing through an athletic youth. Growing up with her brothers, her mother would constantly challenge them to see how fast they could complete a task (like picking up the toys or bringing in the groceries) and she encouraged them to see life as an adventure. Janelle has maintained this spirit in everything she’s done, including crew and Nordic skiing in college.
Her true love, however, is climbing because “it is a beautiful sport that requires diligence, strength and grace. It reminds me what it feels like to be alive.” She finds a clarity and calmness of mind with each gear placement and each move, forcing her to be the best she can be. Climbing has brought her to the belief that the only true competition any of us has is with ourselves.