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Backcountry Journal: Climbing with Millie the Cat

This is a story about a man and his cat, but mostly the cat. Since Millie’s story debuted on Backcountry last May under the title, “My Climbing Partner Eats Chicken Liver,” she’s attained celebrity status. Thousands shared her story on social media and continue to follow her adventures, cat food companies are shipping grub to her doorstep, and she’s even had photo ops with internationally renowned publications (which legally, I can’t name prior to their being published). So it was a real pleasure to get out with Millie and her partner Craig to experience the action firsthand.

Climbing partnerships require a relationship of trust, but Craig and Millie seem to share a mutual understanding that goes even deeper. For a route we chose the West Slabs of Mt. Olympus, a low-angle tombstone of rock that rises for 1600 feet above the Salt Lake Valley. Millie isn’t very fond of hiking and prefers Craig’s shoulders during the walk to and from the cliff, but she takes off like a rocket when it’s time to get radical on the rocks. Her climbing style is bold, focused, and even dynamic at times. As Craig wrote in her debut story, “she takes big risks and doesn’t bitch when they don’t pan out.” When she started feeling the pump, she’d find a cave or a shady ledge and rest until she was ready to tackle the next section of rock.

Millie reached a new personal high point on the route and we all soaked up a sunset from a ledge near the top. Craig claims that Millie has all the qualities a good climbing partner should have. After seeing them both in action, I’ll second that assessment.

prAna Axiom Denim Pant

prAna Axiom Denim Pant

As a minimalist, Craig only owns two pairs of pants. Both pairs are the prAna Axiom Denim Pant. Made from 98% cotton with a touch of  spandex, the Axiom Pant is durable enough for slab climbing with your cat yet attractive enough to wear out for a drink later that evening. The spandex and gusseted inseam allow you full range of motion, and they give the pants a soft, broken-in feel right off the shelf. I see a lot of guys wearing these around the office and I’m one of them. There’s a reason for that: the Axiom is everything you need in a pair of everyday jeans.

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Icebreaker Tech Lite Shirt

Icebreaker Tech Lite tee

Wool might seem like an odd fabric choice for a tech shirt, but it’s actually ideal. Sourced entirely from merino sheep in New Zealand’s high country, Icebreaker merino is among the highest quality wool in the world. The weave used on the Tech Lite Shirt is very thin, soft 150gm merino fabric—so soft in fact that Millie curled up next to Craig to share a tender moment near the summit. Unlike the itchy wool sweaters you remember wearing as a kid, Icebreaker merino doesn’t itch and it has natural properties that control body odor and regulate temperature. It’s time to ditch the cotton and synthetics and turn to a fiber that’s been performing in the mountains for thousands of years.

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Filson Tin Cloth Dog Bowl

Filson Tin Cloth Bowl

Hydration is essential for all mountain athletes, and Millie is no exception. When it’s time for a drink she prefers lapping water from the Filson Tin Cloth Dog Bowl. Made from Filson’s classic and ultra-durable Tin Cloth fabric, this bowl is built for years of reliable use in the great outdoors. Filson’s roots go back over 100 years when the company began outfitting explorers heading north in the Great Klondike Gold Rush. Steadfast animal companions were just as important to northern adventurers as they are to us today and Filson gets that, which is why the Tin Cloth Dog Bowl is crafted with as much precision and quality as any garment it produces.

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Evolv Cruzer Shoe

Cruzr Shoe

If you try and keep the number of possessions you own to minimum, you need a pair of shoes that can handle a wide range of adventures, and that’s why Craig likes the Evolv Cruzer. It’s a sticky-rubber approach shoe, it’s a pair of house slippers, and it’s hip footwear for an all-night dance party. The sticky-rubber Trax sole, rubber toe cap, and sensitive feel kept Craig feeling confident and glued to the rock during the climb—and he needed that to keep up with Millie. When it came time to relax, he simply pressed the heel down into slipper mode and enjoyed the barefoot-friendly microfiber insole. For one pair of kicks you can wear for just about anything, turn to the Cruzer.

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Allgood Provisions High Antioxidant Trail Mix

AllGood provisions

Gas station trail mixes are comprised mostly of cheap “filler” ingredients with a few good things tossed in. You always end up picking out the good stuff and discarding the rest. The Allgood Provisions High Antioxidant blend is not that trail mix; it’s all good stuff. Packed with almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, goji berries, and cranberries, every handful is tasty and packed with nutrition. All ingredients are organic and non-GMO certified, and Allgood gives 1% of proceeds back to the planet. While it’s well known that Millie prefers her chicken liver treats for refueling, she still gave the nuts and berries a big sniff and seemed to approve.

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Arcade Captain Hybrid Belt

Designed for the active life by folks who actually live it, Arcade Belts are durable, stretchy, and keep your pants in place while you’re getting after it outside. It’s the stretchy baseball belt you wore to little league melded with full-grain leather for grown-up style. The low-profile buckle and strap fit comfortably under Craig’s harness and as promised, allowed for a full range of motion. The Captain Hybrid Belt features whimsical motifs from the sea with classy details that keep you looking sharp for every adventure.

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Patagonia Flecked Lambswool Crew Sweater

Patagonia Lambswool Crew

Made from a durable five-gauge wool blend, the Patagonia Flecked Lambswool Crew kept Craig warm when the sun dipped during the descent and gave Millie a comfy spot to ride on the way back to the car. When your cat gets nervous in sketchy terrain and digs in for extra security, a beefy wool sweater is exactly what you need to keep everyone comfortable. Flecked yarn spun into the weave adds texture and the rib knit at the cuffs and neck lend a classic crewneck look. Fall through spring, the Patagonia Flecked Lambswool is your essential go-to sweater.

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