• Maddie Phaneuf


Lately I've been finding myself daydreaming...a lot. I don't think I've daydreamed this much since I was sitting behind a desk back in high school, trying to pay attention to whatever the teacher was going over. All I tend to be thinking about lately is...MOUNTAINS!

Ever since I started rock climbing this summer, my point of view on mountains has changed. I want to be climbing them, as many as I can, for as long as I am physically able. I want to travel the country (and then all of the other countries!) in a van and go climb everything. I want to experience places like Yosemite, Moab, Grand Teton, Red River Gorge, and so much more.

I want to have messy hair, dirty finger nails, and not care about what I look like. I want to be living on adventure, adrenaline, and conquer my fears. I love the feeling of rock beneath my hands, using my strength to get up a route. It's so satisfying to conquer something you didn't think you could do. It's so powerful.

I think I've always had this passion for the outdoors and the drive to explore, but I feel like that fire has been reignited this past summer. All I can do is dream about trips I want to take. While I'm driving the roads of the Adirondacks I find myself with a craned neck looking out the window up at these cliffs that I somehow didn't notice until now...thinking "I want to be on that wall, climbing that crack!"

Social media does not help this obsession...or maybe it does? Depends on how you look at it. Since I tend to have so much free time between training sessions, I kill that time following my favorite Instagram accounts, searching new climbing/paragliding/skiing/BASE jumping videos on YouTube, and finding new adventure documentaries on Netflix to fill my mind with more ideas.

Here's a list of some of my favorite accounts/videos...


@vanlifediaries - So many ideas for my future van life...can't get enough of this account

@beccajcaldwell - Wife of professional climber Tommy Caldwell, mother of two, basically they are #familygoals

@moonmountainman - Gotta get my daily dose of mountain photos, this account does the trick

@ashimashiraishi - Possibly the best female climber in the world, and at only age 15 she's incredible to follow

@alexhonnald - Probably the best free soloist in the world (climbing without ropes/protection), also the ultimate climber crush #mcm


Question Madness - I don't know why, but this advertisement by North Face just got to me on some level

Training: Emily Harrington's Mountain Life - Ultimately what I want my life to be like...shoutout to Emily Harrington for being rad

GoPro: Moab Towers & Magic Backpacks - This one is just insane, and I've watched it about 20 times


Valley Uprising - Really awesome documentary on the history of climbing in the Yosemite Valley

McConkey - This guy (Shane McConkey) lived such an epic life, and this quote pretty much sums up why I loved this documentary so much..."I'm doing what I love...and if you're doing what you want to do all the time, then you're happy. You're not going to work everyday wishing you were doing something else. I mean, I get up to go to work everyday and I'm stoked. That does not suck."

Touching the Void - One of the most incredible expedition stories ever. It's a must watch.

Jumbo Wild - Just a short documentary that highlights the tension between the protection of wilderness and the backcountry experience and ever-increasing development interests in wild place.

When I decide to be done with my biathlon career, whenever that may be, I will follow my passion for adventuring and the love of the outdoors in the form of going to school to study Outdoor Education. In the meantime, I'll continue climbing, daydreaming, and making an epic "Bucket List".

I've been researching this program for a few weeks now, searching different schools that offer it, and figuring out where I would see myself. I think the school that has stuck out the most to me so far would be APU (Alaska Pacific University) located in Anchorage, Alaska. It seems like such a cool location, with a mixture of city life and the huge, incredible Alaskan wilderness. Of course, I've heard a lot of different opinions on Alaska, so I'm hoping to pay a visit up there at some point before making a decision on my future. I do have this sense that I could love Alaska. I mean...I hate the heat, I love mountains, and I could be okay with long periods of darkness (or light, depending on the season).

So...yeah, that's the result of all of this daydreaming! I finally figured out what I want to study and follow after biathlon. Honestly, I never thought that I would get to this point in my life. I didn't think I would find a passion outside of biathlon. For as long as I remember, I knew I never wanted to work a typical desk job indoors. I know that my soul needs fresh air, mountains, and the freedom that the outdoors gives you. I'm the happiest when I'm immersed in nature, and I strive to become my happiest self for as long as I live.

In the meantime...I'll be around the Adirondacks training until right after Thanksgiving. Then, I'll be off to Canmore, Alberta, Canada for some on-snow training before heading to the IBU Cup Trials in Minnesota around mid December! Keep following for some more updates!

Currently listening to: Don't Think Twice It's All Right by Bob Dylan

- MP