Stephanie Forte


Sport climber, writer, entrepreneur, MMA promoter; Las Vegas, Nevada

Every few years, Stephanie Forte, 44, whips herself into top shape and climbs a flurry of hard 5.13s. She capped off one fitness peak in 1999 by sending Soul Train, then called 5.14a, at Mt. Charleston, Nevada, and sent her most recent 5.13d in Arizona’s Virgin River Gorge just last year. A New Jersey girl with a sharp wit, a publicist’s poise, and fierce athleticism on the rock, Forte has written for Climbing many times and has had her hands on all kinds of climbing-related events and causes, most conspicuously her devoted work for the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation’s events. The five-foot-half-inch (“don’t forget to mention the half-inch—it’s important,” she says) dynamo is a born publicity agent, and among her current clients is XYIENCE, “official energy drink of the UFC.” So these days when Forte isn’t sending hard at Mt. Charleston, she can often be found hanging out and training with professional mixed martial arts athletes.

Growing up, I was not athletic. I shopped, was voted “best dressed,” and was intent on a career killing it on Wall Street.

After my first trip to the desert, I knew I’d never leave the West. I also discovered there was a half-decent athlete living inside my body.

Being petite has made me a better climber because I have to be creative. My sequences are often dramatically different than what’s “crag-approved.” I’ve learned not to even attempt to simply follow the chalk trail.

Climbing has been the greatest gift I’ve ever received, so I love all climbing areas. Especially since they all come with a nice selection of extremely fit belay-boys.

I’ve been practicing yoga for 16 years, and for the past two years I’ve practiced Bikram a minimum of three days per week. My flexibility has seen a huge increase in the last year, and that’s been a factor in my recent climbing performance.

In 2009, I decided to follow a Costa Rican surf god into waters where I clearly didn’t belong. I wiped out, whacked my board, and broke two ribs. I was flailing around in the water, and like a gentleman the surf god carried me to the beach—and then let me know that his wife was a nurse and could be right over to check on me.

My climbing has really been influenced by the MMA. The intensity and effectiveness of the training is why so many professional athletes in action and traditional sports are now training at mixed martial arts gyms.

I’ve learned a lot about what it means when they say a fighter has heart. There are a few fights in particular where I thought to myself, “If I approached every route with that amount of heart, I’d send a lot more routes.”

I wouldn’t trade the experience of growing up in New Jersey. The friends I made in junior high are still the women who today I call my best friends.