McKenzie Nicol



Usually I develop my stories out of things that I have a desire to learn more about. I love learning and expanding my knowledge base. I also have a passion for people and finding out their stories. Everyone has a story, and every story holds incredible potential.

For the rock climbing piece, I have several personal connections with many local rock climbers, being a beginner myself. Isaac Baker is a good friend whom I worked with while I was living in Romania. Ben Roa is actually a friend of a friend in my news writing class. I met Joel Zerr at the climbing gym when I was asking around for advice on the story. All of these individuals were more than willing to talk about rock climbing and the impact it has had in their lives, giving great insights and ideas about the subject. They are the best sources for this story because they are all local and heavily involved in rock climbing.

I did not encounter any sort of ethical or moral issues with the rock climbing story. It was a little tricky finding time to meet with Joel because he is busy setting routes for several gyms along the Wasatch Front. But we worked out scheduling and ended up being able to meet.

Making sense of all the information that I gathered was hard at first because there were so many good ideas to sift through. There is so much you can learn and take from rock climbing. It is all a big metaphor. But one common theme that I couldn’t shake was the mental side of rock climbing. It is intriguing and inspiring, and something that I love to talk about, and it was easy to decide to write about it.

I did a lot of thinking to begin the process. I have a hard time if I just sit down and write. I need time to process and develop. At some point I have to just write words on the paper, and then return to them after I have thought about it more before I can write a good draft. After that I comb it over and make adjustments that are desperately needed.

I wish I could include more details about the actual logistics of climbing. They are so interesting and give you a deeper understanding of the technique behind everything. But having focused more on the mental side of the story, I did not feel that a lot of the technicalities fit in.

It was surprising how easy and natural it was to talk to the sources about something that they are all passionate about. It was not awkward at all and the conversation just flowed. I don’t know why, but I was expecting the actual interviewing to be a little bit tougher. But it wasn’t, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Rock climbing is such a cool sport with so much symbolism and metaphor. I feel like you could write any sort of story out of it. It has taught me a lot in my own life and is such a personal journey. My hope is that everyone who reads this story will be inspired to dig a little deeper within themselves.



I am a student at the University of Utah studying strategic communication. I love videography and have a passion for telling stories through the lens. I am always seeking out adventure and new experiences because the best way to learn about life is to live it. I love rock climbing, backpacking, hammocking and anything to do with the outdoors. I lived in Romania and the Republic of Moldova for 20 months. I speak Romanian fluently and am now tackling Russian. I love challenges and pushing myself to my limits.

“How do you see the world?” is a question that has shaped me ever since I started thinking about it two years ago. It came to me as I was roaming the streets of Chisinau, Moldova, pondering on all of the lives that were going on around me. Each one so different than my own. Each an individual who sees the world in a completely unique light and has so much to offer the world in a way that no one else can. My goal in life is to get an understanding of how others view the world and tell stories through the lens.