Sterling Athletes Team

Mayan Smith-Gobat

Athlete Bio


Mayan climbed competitively for a few years, but her true passion is for climbing on rock, where she seeks out the most challenging and inspiring lines. Always striving to climb at the very limit of her capacity, and to show the world that anything is possible.


Mayan has now spent over ten years climbing full time, pushing the boundaries of her climbing in many different facets. She is the most internationally prolific rock climber from New Zealand. In 2009, Mayan climbed L’Arcademecien (5.14b/8c) at Ceuse, becoming the only Australasian woman to climb 5.14b, but is now better known for her trad and big wall achievements. Including: A free ascent of The Salathe Wall 5.13b on El Capitan in 2011 and Free Rider in 14 hours without a single fall.



Mayan Smith-Gobat



3 October 1979


How did you get started climbing?

Mayan’s passion for climbing and the mountains runs deep. Born at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mayan’s early childhood was spent living in the outdoors. But only at age 16 did she begin alpine climbing, which soon developed into a fascination with rock climbing and skiing. After an extreme skiing accident left Mayan with a broken jaw and two broken feet, she turned her boundless energy toward climbing exclusively.


How old were you when you started?

I was 16 when I first took a mountaineering course, I did a little rock climbing the following year, but I did not fully immerse myself in climbing until I was 21.


Who or what inspired you to start climbing?

I have loved the mountains for as long as I can remember - Probably from before I was born... So in a way I think it was inevitable that I would start. But the trigger was getting a summer job down in Mt Cook (the highest mountain in NZ) and meeting all these people who were just traveling the world and climbing. It fascinated me and then I became hooked on the physical and mental challenge of rock climbing.


Who served as your inspiration in life?

Lynn Hill has always been an inspiration and my best friend Lucy Wills who I watched die of cancer when in my early 20’s. But I also find anyone who is really pushing their limits (at any level) really inspiring.


What was your first outdoor climb?

My first climb was a mountain in the Southern Alps. My first rock climb was at Hanging rock, a small limestone crag in the center of NZ’s South Island... My first indoor climb was much later.


What do you do when you’re not climbing?

A lot of writing at the moment... I also try to run and do yoga regularly.


Any training advice or suggestions?

Assess your weaknesses and train them. Train through climbing as much as possible, and most importantly make sure it is fun!


What do you feel is your best accomplishment, outside of climbing?

My art work - oil paintings anderson sculptures!



What do you feel is your best accomplishment within climbing?

Free climbing the Salathe Wall, and then the following climbing Free Rider in 14 hours - without a single fall!


Favorite quote?

To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken, because the greatest hazard of life is to risk nothing. The person risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering or sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, live and love.


If you could have 1 superpower what would it be?

To fly.


If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?

                To never get injured - Stay healthy.

                To never be restricted by time or money.

                I believe if I have those, I can achieve anything.


What was your favorite childhood cartoon?

I am not much of a cartoon person... But the only cartoon I have ever liked was Calvin and Hobbes.


Shameless self-promotion –



Photos 1& 2 courtsey - Rich Crowder -

Photo 3 - Andy Mann - 



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