Rachael Lee Sortor

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Rachael Lee Sortor is a badass. She’s an elite level competitive rock climber and when not gracefully climbing to what is for most of us horrific heights, she’s even higher in the sky as a neonatal helicopter flight nurse rescuing babies. In addition, she’s the mother to rock climbing prodigy Ellie Farmer, who at 8 months old was invited onto the Ellen Show after a video of her climbing at the local rock gym went viral.

Born & raised outside of Chicago, Rachael moved to Flagstaff, Arizona as a teenager. Her father originally wanted her to play basketball, but she quickly found rock climbing. After her first day in the rock climbing gym, she started going 6-7 days a week and quickly started competing at the elite level. Her natural athletic abilities, focus and determination had found their home.

After graduating, while training intensely and traveling for competitions, Rachael married and went to nursing school. Soon after completing nursing school her daughter, Ellie, was born. Also not surprising is that Rachael was back in the rock climbing gym with Ellie within two weeks of giving birth. Soon their was a climbing wall in Ellie’s bedroom and she started climbing at 8 months, then walking at 10 months.

Like every proud mother, one day Rachael posted to Facebook a video for her parents to see of 8 month old Ellie climbing at the rock climbing gym. Within 48 hours it was internationally viral. The impact was a tsunami of new stations, national t.v. shows and international t.v. outlets calling and coming to the house. Like a lottery winner, their family was instantly thrown into the spotlight and caught off guard. After a lot of debate and hesitation, they finally accepted an offer from the Ellen Show.

Following all the attention and press, the Rachael, her husband and Ellie decided it was time for change. They bought an airstream trailer and started traveling the U.S. Rachael worked as a travel nurse and they boondocked on public lands or camped in national parks for over a year. One of those trips brought them to Bend, Oregon. The hospital there asked Rachael to stay permanently and join their flight nurse team. Not ready to give up life on the road, the hospital told her to at least go for a helicopter ride before she made her final decision. Within seconds of being in the air, Rachael became a yes.

Now based in Bend, Rachael and Ellie are loving being part of a community committed to the outdoors, the benefits of having a home base, and the amazing local climbing community.

To follow, support and connect with Rachael and Ellie you can: