Catherine Pitura always knew she would become an entrepreneur in the world of rock climbing equipment and apparel.
And five years after an epiphanic moment while climbing in Penticton, she now has a retail-ready product that can be found in Vernon, and will soon hit the shelves of Canada’s biggest outdoor retailer.
The Vernon woman and certified climbing guide is the founder of The Conscious Climber, a company that makes mental training tools — or Mind Tools — to help climbers overcome fear and reach new heights.
“I always knew I was going to do something entrepreneurial and I’d been recycling ideas but nothing would stick around.”
While on a climbing retreat in Skaha, Penticton in 2015, the idea hit her like a lightning bolt.
“This conscious climber idea just kind of shot through my whole body,” she explained. “I literally didn’t even know what ‘conscious’ meant at the time or how it would relate to climbing.”
She soon figured out that the product behind the idea was much the same as how the idea itself came about: it’s all about the mind-body connection.
“What I had learned in climbing and through my experience is there’s such a close connection between your mind and your body,” she explained.
“If your mind does not believe it, your body is just not even going to go there. So I thought, how can we bridge the gap so we can improve performance and reduce fear?”
That question led Pitura to the idea of putting empowering words onto climbing gear, tapping into the power of positive thinking to enhance climbers’ performance. With little to no startup money, she bought a used sewing machine and began making prototypes.
She eventually pitched a design to a manufacturer for a slipcover that fits on practically any climbing gear, emblazoned with motivational words like ‘Focus,’ ‘Commit’ and ‘Believe.’
Flash forward to 2020 and The Conscious Climber is now available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Vernon, and Pitura says she’s on the verge of getting her products into MEC, a chain of outdoor recreation gear with 22 locations across Canada, including a Kelowna storefront.
“It’s always been a dream store for me to get into as it is the biggest outdoor retail chain,” Pitura said.
“For me it’s really neat to see it come to life because it’s been a journey.”
A professional guide through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, Pitura says the Okanagan is full of rock climbing potential — specifically Vernon’s Cougar Canyon, home to the Firearms route she calls “a world-class line.”
“Ellison Park is also amazing,” she said. “You’re climbing literally from the bottom of the water’s edge up to the top of the cliff and then you’ve got all these boats playing music below. This summer I felt like I was in Italy or something.”
The Mind Tools sell for $16 apiece. For more information or to purchase online, visit theconsciousclimber.com.