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A Climber We Lost: Giselle Field, July 13

Each January we post a farewell tribute to those members of our community lost in the year just past. Some of the people you may have heard of, some not. All are part of our community and contributed to climbing.

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You can read the full tribute to Climbers We Lost in 2021 here.

Giselle Field, 28, July 13

“So live big. Live for those we’ve lost. Live for the future we want to have, the people we want to become. And celebrate every moment.”—Giselle Field

Giselle Field was an artist, business leader, wife, daughter, sister, friend, adventurer, and climber. In a moving eulogy on her GoFundMe Page, her friend Jason Danoff called her “a creative genius” and “inspiration for a generation.”

After growing up in Oxnard, California, the high-spirited daughter of Martha and Paco Fernandez, Giselle met her husband, Derek Field, in September 2010 while pursuing a degree in graphic design at Cal Lutheran University.

Giselle was very goal oriented—”she kept lots of journals with goals written down and steps to get there,” says Derek—and she enjoyed discovering all the different styles of climbing. “But she was especially in love with crack climbing. She just absolutely loved it.” Derek and Giselle grew into rock climbing together, beginning in areas like Malibu Creek and Echo Cliffs in the Santa Monica Mountains, then moving on to Joshua Tree, the Eastern Sierra, and Tahquitz Rock in Idyllwild. After relocating to Flagstaff in 2015, she and Derek became fixtures in Arizona’s climbing community.

Her favorite route in the Sedona area was Heirloom, which was her first 5.10 trad redpoint and her go-to route when introducing others to crack climbing. As Derek wrote in an email, “Anyone who ever roped up with Giselle will agree that her intense drive toward personal success paled before her focus on empowering and celebrating her people.”

Also a prolific first ascentionist, mainly of alpine and multipitch routes, Giselle did 127 first ascents between 2017 and 2021, according to her husband Derek, including more than 50 in California’s Sierra Nevada, 45 in Arizona’s Red Rock Country, 14 in Red Rock, Nevada, 10 in Peru, and four in Alaska.

(Photo: Derek Field)

Her greatest personal climbing achievement, shared with Derek and good friend Aaron Zimmerman just ten days before her passing, was the first ascent of the Southwest Ridge (IV 5.7+ AI3 M4 80* snow, 330m) of Destornillador (Screwdriver) in the Cordillera Carabaya of Peru, becoming the first known team to reach the 5,640-meter (18,504 ft) summit in over half a century.

Giselle also dove into her business. As the founder and creative director of Wander Design Co., a brand strategy consultancy focusing on clients in the outdoor space, she exercised her love for art, photography, digital art, and watercolors. She also shared her knowledge as the cohost of a popular brand design podcast.

In his eulogy, Jason Danoff calls Giselle a leader in the Arizona rock climbing community. “She shared an unending passion for adventure, pioneered countless first ascents, and was an inspiration to all by virtue of her intrepid lifestyle and successful career as a creative designer. She was always the mentor of any room.”

Giselle died in a rappelling accident on July 13, while exploring an obscure region of the Cordillera Carabaya in the Peruvian Andes with Derek. The two were descending from the first known ascent of a previously unnamed rock tower they called Kawri Orcco, the local Quechua translation for “Monster Peak.” Kawri Orcco is the 17,012-foot high point of a jagged ridge on the edge of the Amazon.

She is survived by her husband, Derek; her parents; and her beloved siblings, Danny, Michelle, and Pablo.

(Photo: Derek Field)

“Gis showed me the truest definition of love,” Derek told Climbing in an email. “She taught me patience, forgiveness, and compassion. Each and every adventure with her felt like a fairy-tale; each and every day with her, a blessing. Her light shone brighter than gold everywhere she wandered. The people and places she impacted will eternally be illuminated by her bold and loving spirit. She was my best friend and the best climbing partner I could ever ask for. I love you always and forever, Gis.”

You can read the full tribute to Climbers We Lost in 2021 here.