Picture of MAXIM athlete Madaleine Sorkin


Big wall climber and certified Rock Guide of AMGA

Madaleine has been climbing since 1998 and guiding since 2002. She has quietly amassed an impressive resume of big wall free climbs, from 5.13 on El Capitan to 5.13 in the higher elevation mountains. She also travels the globe in search of these amazing big walls to free climb. With any goal, she plays with a balance of adventure, fun and pushing herself to perform her best.  Finding her sweet spot is a little different every day.  She continues to be motivated for her personal climbing goals, and is honored to be guiding and coaching climbers of all levels to meet their own next wall. She is a certified Rock Guide through the American Mountain Guides Association.

Birthday: February 16, 1982
Home town: Rockville, Maryland
Current home: Boulder, Colorado
Favorite MAXIM rope: Airliner

“Perhaps there is no endpoint and the goal is not really the aim, but nonetheless do savor that fleeting moment of a redpoint, a send, a summit.”

Madaleine Sorkin

Get to know Madaleine ...

What do you think was the highlight of your climbing career (so far)?
I’ve had a blessed climbing life with a number of highlight-type moments or achievements—I’ve climbed a number of harder things but one highlight that comes to mind was climbing on the Russian Tower in Kyrgyzstan with my friend Nik Berry as the effort to get there made it all the more meaningful. We had bailed off of a route that was going to require more time and gear than we had brought and really wanted to free climb something. We decided to try a 20-some odd pitch Italian aid line… The climb kept unfolding for us in remarkable ways…There was always just enough gear that we didn’t have to place a single bolt and we each got to lead pitches that pushed us to our onsight potential. Twenty-three pitches later, we stood at the top of the Russian Tower having freed an remarkable aid line, ground-up onsight at 5.12c.

What are you doing when you are not climbing?
Playing with my favorite people. I guide and coach other climbers on their mental fitness and technical skills. I spend a lot of time in nature without climbing.

Do you have any peculiar eating habits?
I eat so much sauerkraut. Thankfully my girlfriend recently gave me a sauerkraut maker.

What stokes you the most?
Snuggling and free climbing big, intimidating walls. Ha! Less and less do I try to understand myself and focus more on accepting the paradox of being a human in the modern civilization.

If you could choose a super power, what would it be?
That as people feel discomfort or pain, I would saturate them with a profound sense of love and belonging

What would you be doing if you weren’t a pro climber?
Singing to the moon and banging on drums, writing poetry and working for environmental and social justice….oh wait, I could be doing that as well now!

Career Highlights

The Honeymoon Is Over

Country/City: The Diamond of Longs Peak
Grade: Grade V, 5.13c at 13,000’
Length: 8 pitches

Block Party is this gorgeous, overhung limestone traverse at Reimer’s Ranch that I had my heart set on the first time I laid eyes on it, as an 11+ sport climber. It’s my absolute favorite route at Reimer’s and the first route

Trying to redpoint this route really pushed me to approach my climbing a bit differently and with more self-love. 

    You can watch a 10-min film about it at vimeo.com/218699073

El Corazon

Country/City: El Capitan
Grade: VI 5.13b
Length: 35 pitches; We took 3.5 days

I loved climbing this route with an appointed little brother Nik Berry. I’ve freed climbed up a few different routes on El Cap and all have been deeply memorable, intimate passages with a friend. This was likely the most fun as we kept our moods lighthearted and supportive of each other throughout potentially stressful run-out bits and rope tangles. And the climbing itself went very smoothly which always helps!

Mate y Porro, North Pillar

Country/City: Fitzroy, Patagonia, Argentina
Grade: 5.11 A0
Lenght: It took us 3 days

Kate Rutherford and I were so nervous heading up this route and as the winds changed and we hemmed and hawed about the weather. We felt very remote and responsible for ourselves on this route and know it was a large undertaking for us. We kept saying aloud to one another “we’re doing it!” as we worked our way up the route step-by-step. We felt like a team through and through and there was really no one else that would have rather been post-holing through the snow up to my waist with, across that final glacier home.This was my first of the grade at my favorite bouldering destination in the world. 

© Henna Taylor

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