Over the course of five weeks, OutThere Colorado’s “Girls that Shred” series will profile five women who have made a lifestyle out of outdoor adventure. OutThere Colorado is so excited to showcase women who make strong beautiful everyday and who are beautiful in their strength.
There’s a certain freedom found above tree line—freedom in wide-open space, lack of cell coverage, and untouched landscape. From climbing to snowboarding, mountain biking to big mountain skiing, the women of the “Girls that Shred” series have each found themselves drawn to the sport that gives them the most freedom. Kasha Rigby, North Face telemark skier of the third “Girls that Shred” profile, is inspired by wild landscapes, her tribe of like-minded women, and skiing really fast. This week, OutThere Colorado is profiling Denver native Sydney Paez Duncan, a mountaineer and ski patroller with a soulful singing voice that was made for the blues.
Girls that Shred, Part 4 — Meet Sydney Paez Duncan
Hometown: Denver, CO
Currently Lives: Tahoe City, CA
Occupation: Mountaineer, ski patroller, raft guide, and singer.
When you move in with Sydney Duncan, you also move in with all of her gear. One kayak, two paddles, three pairs of skis, poles, boots, wetsuits, and too many base layers to count filled two out of our four closets in a triple dorm room at Colorado College in the fall of 2008. But the striking thing about the Denver native is not her vast gear collection, her imposing height, or the uncatchable speeds she reaches on alpine skis—it’s the immense joy she brings to everything she pursues. “If we’re talking about the soul,” Duncan explains in response to a question I asked her recently about motivation, “I would say that it is the fear of missing something extraordinary because of someone else’s imposed expectations”. And that has been Syd’s truth since we met on that first day of our freshman year.
Duncan first fell in love with mountaineering in a Mount Rainier kind of way. “My Dad has been an avid mountaineer since I was a kid,” Duncan recounts, “and finally I agreed to climb something a little more involved than the Colorado 14ers with him. It was challenging, but I ultimately summited successfully and safely. After that very humbling experience, I was hooked”. Since then, Duncan has summited Denali and skied volcanic peaks in Chile among other expeditions. She’s currently working as a ski patroller in Squaw Valley, California and will go back to raft guiding on Clear Creek near Idaho Springs, Colorado during the summer season.
Whether it’s on stage backed by a funk band or on a high alpine expedition, Syd has always faced challenges with a huge smile. In fact, it’s her search for the extraordinary that has taken her all over the world and has enmeshed her in the community of folks who have made a lifestyle out of outdoor adventure.
Syd and I graduated from Colorado College in 2012, and we and our friends scattered around the world to travel, to go to graduate school, and to work. Syd went up—up above tree line. She says that it’s easier to breathe up there.
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