Young Crusher Hannah Donnelly Profile

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Here at Touchstone, we are lucky to be surrounded by such a diverse and talented group of climbers and fitness enthusiasts. Every once and a while we love to sit down and profile a member who’s got a great story to tell. Up this month… Hannah Donnelly, a 16 year old Zero Gravity climber. 


Donnelly, a Sacramento Waldorf High School Student and Sacramento resident, began climbing with the youth team nearly 3 years ago in September of 2010. Climbing often at Sacramento Pipeworks and now Diablo Rocks in Concord, the young climber has a solid resume with 4 national championships competitions and a couple of V8 boulder problems!

“I live and breathe climbing,” said Donnelly in a recent conversation with the Touchstone Blog. “Training 4 days a week and trying to hold a 4.0 in school is tough, but in the end it’s worth it. I love climbing because……. wow that is hard to put in words. Climbing, for me, is not always about the competition. It is about having amazing moments that you have complete control over every body position; every moment and any second can change the result. When I grab onto a plastic hold or a small edge of granite, everything stops for a moment, letting me take a deep breath… knowing and believing that I am able to move my body and have the strength to complete the thing that in that moment seems like the biggest challenge.”

“Hannah is a highly motivated, passionate athlete. She is focused and determined to develop her technical, physical and mental ability to an elite level,” said Zero Gravity Coach Scot Jenerik.

In November 2011, Donnelly trained at Claudiu Vidulesu’s US Nationals camp. “I felt wonderful for the two weeks and the time flew by.” Donnelly enjoyed the climbing immensely but then she had an unfortunate injury. “I had a blast, but while warming up my left shoulder started to bother me, I climbed anyways….bad idea. On some move, on some climb… I tore my labrum, front and back, and also slightly tore my bicep.” For fifteen months, Donnelly recovered from surgery on her labrum. “Looking back, I am weirdly kind of happy that I got injured, it allowed me to truly understand the reasons I love to climb, not to win, not to send anything hard (even though those things are great and drive me to train,) but I most of all I enjoy the atmosphere climbing brings; friends, food, laughter, and being outside.”


“One of my most exciting achievements [this year] is that I have fully recovered and I’m training at full strength with the goal of competing in Youth World Championships in August 2013. Through the deep dark stages of surgery and recovery, I have learned that even though there are crappy days climbing, embracing them is better than sitting on the couch or watching from the crowd.”

Jenerik reiterated her point, describing Donnelly’s attitude towards recovering from the shoulder injury. “Coming back from shoulder surgery has really tested her resolve, patience and commitment. But it has also shown her that any day climbing is better than any day broken.”

Donnelly climbs outside often, exploring Maple Canyon in Utah, Smith Rocks in Oregon and the bouldering in Bishop and Tahoe. She has numerous goals in her climbing. “My biggest personal goal is to always try hard, give 100% every time I step up to the wall. I also try to stay positive, allowing myself to fail and also allowing myself to get angry… to push my own limits. My performance goals consist of small goals in daily training and big goals competition related . Some daily goals could be finishing all my laps or learning to breath while my pump is getting unbearable. I am able to strive and push myself to the limit each day…even if each day the limit is different.”

“My big goals, which are making US national team, competing in a world championships, and climbing 14a, keep me focused on a bigger picture.”noname-5

Donnelly provides a perfect example of a climber who balances hard climbing and having fun. We’re proud to call Hannah one of our own and can’t wait to see where her climbing career is going! Keep up the great work Hannah!

Got a story to share? Tell us all about it! Email your trip reports, bios, and tales of woe to [email protected]