Away Team Bio

Holly Chen

Holly is a Taiwanese climber, route setter and writer based in Denver, Colorado. Inspired by desert towers and a good summit snack, Holly is a yes-woman to anything climbing-related. Her number one goal is to look for authentic, genuine stories, especially stories of people who don't like those already there.

Essential Gear

The Advance Pro™ Ultralight 2 Person Tent is the tent for life! Having lived in it for a whole month in the Pacific Northwest, in both front and backcountry situations, this is the tent to bring on all solo adventures. Yes, I need a 2-person tent for solo adventures because I thrash in my sleep and the extra space is my definition of glamping.

Your first trip in the great outdoors:

I was in college and in a slump. I needed to “fresh up” my perspective. My outdoor experience at the time didn’t go beyond day hikes, so naturally, I planned a solo, seven-day backpacking trip in the High Sierra. What could go wrong? My mom taught me how to swim by literally throwing my infant self into the deep end with no water wings. (The lifeguard promptly banned her from the pool.) What I should have packed were a rain jacket and extra socks. I did pack three canisters of 16 oz. MSR IsoPro™ fuel canisters, a Costco pack of 24 Snickers® bars, and the 1000+ page novel War and Peace. I made it through on pure stubbornness, a constant sugar high, and the inability to admit that I don’t know what I’m doing. War and Peace made for a great fire starter.

That was four years ago. While I look back at laugh at my gumby-self, that trip was a turning point for me. The a-ha came by an alpine lake, in the rain, when I realized I might be cold without dry socks, but I was the happiest I’ve ever been. I found the courage to pursue a career in a field where I have no experience or connections. The childish giddiness I felt on that trip is still with me today. Every expert starts as a beginner. Sometimes we need to throw ourselves into the deep end.