Katie Brown

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Before she on-sighted the 2,000-foot Northwest Face of Half Dome, in October, the 28-year-old sylph from Kentucky was already hailed as one of the world’s best sport climbers winning both the X Games and the World Cup earlier this decade. On-sighting free-climbing on her first try, without any prior knowledge of the route the VI 5.12 line marks a shift for Brown into big-wall ascents. It also cements her position among the very few elite climbers who tackle big-wall routes using only their hands and feet. But even as her climbing career is peaking, Brown is looking elsewhere. “I love being a professional climber, but it’s hard to have a normal life,” she says. “I need other dimensions to round it out.” To that end, she’s just enrolled in fashion school, in hopes of designing for her sponsor, San Diego based activewear maker Prana, while climbing for fun. “I just moved to San Francisco from Moab a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t even found a place to live yet.”