Expedition Profile: Anna Pfaff

She's a leading alpinist and one of the most seasoned expedition climbers of her generation.

Anna Pfaff has loved climbing since the moment she first tried it during an impromptu weekend getaway from nursing school at Denver’s Colorado University. She and a few friends went to Indian Creek, Utah, a famous crack-climbing area in Bear’s Ear’s National Monument.

“I came back from Utah and went to the nearest gear store and bought a full rack of gear,” she says. “I’ve been a climber ever since.”

Pfaff is a leading alpinist, and one of the most seasoned expedition climbers of her generation, with self-funded alpine-climbing trips to various corners of the Himalaya, Patagonia, and Peru. Pfaff has spent more than a decade working as a travel emergency room nurse and is now based in Oakland, California. In the past, she would frequently take on short-term nursing contracts near well-known climbing areas during good climbing seasons. She’d work long shifts in order to fund her adventure itch.

“I remember my coworkers betting how many days I would work in a row before I had to call in sick,” she says. “I did 21 night shifts in a row in the ICU. Basically I took all that money to go climb a mountain.”

“This could be the expedition of my lifetime,” Pfaff says. “I don’t know how many nursing shifts I would need to do to pay for an Antarctica trip, but it would’ve been a lot.”

Anna's Stats

  • Age: 36
  • Years climbing: 16
  • Number of expeditions: 20+