“Sweet” Susan Dean has been an avid member of the climbing community for seven years, and a loyal member to Aiguille for five. Before receiving her Masters Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Central Florida, Susan attended Carnage Mellon. During that time she spent a summer in upstate New York, which is where she first discovered the world of climbing, thanks to her persistent college roommates. Her first climb was at an indoor gym in Albany New York - Albany Indoor Rock Gym. She since has added T-Wall, Rocktown, Lost Wall, Lake Tahoe, Goat Rock in San Francisco, Joshua Tree (well, she scampered there), and Fosters, to her ever growing list of outdoor accomplishments. “Red River Gorge is next.” After their wedding 18 months ago, Susan and husband Matt, an Orange County Sheriff Deputy for six years, spent their honeymoon at the world renowned Red Rocks, Nevada. When it comes to climbing indoors or outdoors, the choice is always easy. “Outdoors! It’s just more peaceful than climbing in a gym.”
Aside from climbing Susan, who is expecting her first child early next year, is also a runner and practices yoga, when she can’t find time to make it to Aiguille. Climbing is her first choice sport, however. [With climbing] “It’s all about getting in that mental zone, where nothing else exists.” Susan loves climbing at Aiguille, not only because it is home to the greatest routes in the country, but because of the overall atmosphere of the gym. “The people are what keep me coming back. Its like Cheers, where everybody knows your name”.
Since becoming pregnant Susan has continued to climb, though it has presented a few new challenges. “There have had to be a few adjustments to how I climb since becoming pregnant. Besides a more snug fitting harness, it has impaired my reach a bit and climbing harder routes seems to be tougher on my joints than before.” On the brighter side, she now has an excellent excuse to partake in her long lived climbing ritual, “Gwen’s cookies”. Gwen Campbell’s baked goods are notorious for showing up on any given Saturday afternoon at Aiguille, and are always capable of making even the grumpiest of climber’s day. Susan also credits Gwen as being her most inspiring climbing influence. “Gwen and (husband) Scott appreciate climbing for what it is and just love it. Climbing is more about finding your Zen, and using that to help get you through the discouraging climbs.”