Erin Monahan's climbing trajectory began with blood, sweat, and tears, in Indian Creek where she learned how to get comfortable with exposure. Her basecamp for the last four years has been Portland, Oregon, but now Erin is posted up in Bishop, California making it big as a part-time gardener, while still a full-time neurotic nutcase when it comes to Terra Incognita and living a life intersectionally.
Before she started shoving her limbs into as many cracks as possible, she received an English degree from the University of Missouri, focusing on Cultural Criticism, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.
Erin Monahan is a chatterbox who loves to interact and collaborate with creative people. She is currently studying up on mass incarceration, communism, land management, environmental politics, and ecofeminism. She's the one with her heart on her sleeve, and can be found spilling the beans over a french press of coffee.
With 13 years of climbing experience and a love for all things outdoors including cycling, skiing, and mountaineering, Siena is rooted in Portland, Oregon in hopes of pursuing a more holistic life where she can focus her creative energy into projects that she really believes in. She gives us her thoughts on climbing media: "Climbing media these days has become very sensational and commercialized. I am so excited to be working with Terra Incognita as it brings to light real stories and raw discussions."
Siena is working to bring sustainable businesses in collaboration with Terra Incognita, expand Terra PR outreach, and broach topics of sustainability, equality, and female power within her writing. She notes, "Much of my fine art practice looked at theses issues through a visual, interactive, and spatial lens. Now I am trying to transfer that passion to more concrete and academic forms of advocacy."
Previously as an apparel design student in London, Siena discovered that what drives her are projects that encompass sustainable practices within the design industry. Siena reflects, "I think when you grow up actively appreciating all that nature gives us, it is really sickening to find that the industries in which you make and subside from, are killing the earth and perpetrating systems of abuse."
Siena is an esteemed member of the Terra Incognita team and you will be sure to see her at community events! Check out here personal site here.
Grace is an artist and climber who grew up in the woods of Pennsylvania. Graduating from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with a focus on painting and printmaking, she primarily creates large scale oil paintings that navigate the inner landscape and memory through formal color construction and lifelong, vigilant observation of the natural world. Climbing has become a primary source over the last few years as she's spent significant parts of the year in the Gunks of New York, Kentucky's Red River Gorge, and on Pennsylvania's vastly underrated diabase bouldering.
The physicality of climbing directly influences her work: "My fingers and body remember the movement, flow, and texture of navigating their way up a specific wall of stone or mountain, and my hands pause and feel, quiver, attack, or slowly pull the paint based on the instincts built within them." She is passionate about seeing and encouraging depth, variety, and hard thinking in creatives involved in the outdoors. With a background as an art teacher and a competitive climbing coach, she believes fostering a creative practice breathes life and problem solving skills into any outdoors pursuit, and visa versa. She believes there is power in embracing the way your hands and body seem to want to move, and encourages students to pay attention to instinct.
Grace splits her time in Pennsylvania and the front range of Boulder, Colorado. Her work can be found on our site paired up with the essay, "Armpit Hair: Love Instead of Domination." You can find her scoping out any overhanging bouldering problem she can find, or trekking her backpack full of paint and tea deep into the woods of Indian Peaks, Colorado. You can check out her work via Instagram (@graceisabell and @graceisabellartist), or on her website at graceisabellartist.com
Karina Harper is our beloved in-house artist who can take mushy ideas and transform them into tangible, beautiful creations. She understands the look and feel of Terra Incognita and has an uncanny intuition for aesthetic appeal.
Karina is a designer, painter, and makerspace tech in Portland, Oregon. She converted to climbing in 2013 and there found her love for technique and obsession with heel hooks. She is a jack of all trades and takes every chance she can to make, create, and build.
Suzanna Zak is a Russian born, suburban raised artist. A frequent traveler, her work depicts the malleability of place and space by using a mixture of photography, sculpture, and writing. Her site specific installations employ sculpture in conjunction with photographs. Often working with found objects including print ephemera, her collections depict a variety of representations focusing around a central locale. She is also an avid mushroom hunter and rock climber. Zak is currently living out of her truck on the Sierra East side before beginning to pursue her MFA at Yale in the Fall of 2017.
Astra is a writer, illustrator, and land steward based in the Eastern Sierra. Much of her recent writing reckons with how transience can implicate one's ability to let love in. She is interested in the semiotics of intimacy and the way that language and landscape can reckon with difference, as well as language as power, and intimacy as breaking those two structures down. She's also pursuing graduate research in the metacultural influences of climate change, and the expanding outdoor recreation industry.
In the last three or so years, Astra's spent roughly 76% of her time living outdoors, during which time she's called home to two tents, one steel-frame bicycle, a VW Passat hatchback, and now an absurd mini-bus that acted as a handicap transport vehicle in a former life. Since calling the woods home, she's traversed the Alps and circumnavigated the Adriatic Sea on a solo bike tour at the tail end of a harsh European winter, hitchhiked almost 10,000 miles, visited over two dozen countries on less than $2000, learned four languages and promptly forgotten three of them, built over 200 miles of hiking trail, and become an avid trad climber and backcountry skiier. Her writing career includes funded research on rural land use development, the history of intellectual revolution in Europe, structural feminism, and social justice. In 2012, Astra self-published her second book, a theoretical memoir about totally failing to anthropologically study the role of moneyless economies in modern North American migrant patterns, because she got deported from Canada before she could begin her proposed research.
Derek is a journalist, photographer and filmmaker from New Zealand, but who has spent the last two years dirtbagging around North America - from the glorious granite of the Bugaboos and Yosemite, to cragging in Mexico and Kentucky, to wild ice lines in the Ghost River Wilderness Valley.
He started climbing in New Zealand, but didn't really consider himself a climber until he quit his newspaper job at the end of 2007 and lived in his first van, travelling around the South Island, before selling the van and climbing around Australia and Latin America.
He returned to New Zealand in 2010 and worked as a political reporter for two years, before venturing overseas again - this time climbing through Asia, Canada, Turkey and parts of Europe. Another brief stint in New Zealand's parliamentary press gallery preceded his current North America trip.
He climbs for the challenge, the joy, the community of kindred spirits, and the opportunities it provides to explore different cultures, as well as the beauty of the high and the wild. He still lives in a van, loves the freedom of the road, and frequently visits places that inspire - most recently the Black Canyon in Colorado, and the Wasatch Range in Utah.
He continues to freelance - his work has appeared in Gripped (Canada), Ascent (USA), Climb (UK), The Climber (NZ), Vertical Life (Australia), Action Asia, Outside (China) - and has a regular climbing column in New Zealand Adventure Magazine. Recently he has joined filming company Vansion Roadshow, and is excited about exploring a different medium for dramatic story-telling. His website is dirtbagdispatches.com and his instagram handle is @dirtbagdispatches.
Sara somehow took a liking to writing at a young age, composing terrible stories about mermaids, love in the Wild West, and portals to alternate happy-land dimensions. She eventually pursued a degree in Creative Writing, with an emphasis in Poetry, at the University of California Riverside, which is also where she discovered trail running, climbing, and ultimately the great wild world of everything outdoors.
A California native, she decided on a whim to move to Colorado after a relationship fell apart on the Pacific Crest Trail back in 2014. Having spent several seasons working and playing in Yosemite National Park, she knew that Colorado would provide the environment she craves. Alone and without home nor job, she found herself in Boulder browsing through Craigslist ads at Starbucks. Landing a gig at Movement Climbing + Fitness and an Editorial internship with Outdoor Prolink, she finally realized what career path she wanted to take: Writing, of course. She also met her husband at that very climbing gym, eventually marrying in California on top of The Incredible Hulk, a granite formation in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
She is passionate about creating vignettes of outdoor experiences, taking photos, and sharing in the humility that climbing and running teach. As a woman and an "ethnically ambiguous" mutt, she is also interested in finding ways to express diversity and openness when it comes to women's issues. With a plan to write a book in the next few years, she hopes to really tackle these very things that most find difficult to talk about.
She also really likes to travel and has lived briefly in places like Chile, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, practicing Spanish that she regrettably was never taught from her own roots. Currently based out of Loveland, CO, Sara is a freelance writer and gear tester, crafting reviews and stories for Outdoor Prolink, Mountain Standard, and The Climbing Zine. She has also appeared in outdoor themed Subaru and Thule video ads. You can read more from her at www.bivytales.com or follow her on Instagram @HeySarawrr, @BivyTales.
Mackenzie Berg, a woman of the Northwest with a bad caffeine habit and a poor track record of saying no to adventure, lends her astute insights to Terra Incognita. Mackenzie lives loudly and with abandon, while avoiding hospitalization. She works in a hospital as an ER nurse, so she could very well save her own life if she needed. Mackenzie has found herself gunning it up mountains, jamming it up cracks, sailing the ocean, and running her heart out on a trail.
Our beloved Mackenzie is cartographile wielding the gospel of dirtbag travel, climber, goddess of pie baking, DIY-er, apprentice gardener, and artist. When it counts, that translates to formal training in medicine, anthropology and geography, intercultural communication, and international development/humanitarian aid. She is also a Wilderness First Responder, and hopes she never has to respond to your femur fracture.
While currently based in the PNW, her mailing addresses have at various times included Afghanistan, Egypt, Colorado, Arizona, India, and Thailand, and she has collected passport stamps and stomach viruses in an ever-growing list of other places around the world. She is excited that you’re still reading this far, and hopes you find something in her writing that speaks to you, makes you laugh, or at the very least, inspires you to shut off this damn contraption and go outside. You can find out more about Mackenzie if you click here.