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Mar 8, 2023

With a geologist father, Nikki Smith’s love for rock and the outdoors came naturally. Born in Portland, Oregon, Smith moved with her family to Utah at a young age. She spent her youth wandering the state’s vast outdoor spaces, hunting for minerals and fossils.

Smith was 16 when she had her first climbing experience at a crag in Ogden. She recalls: “I don't know how we're still alive, but just as soon as I touched that rock, everything went silent and it was just this amazing experience.”

Smith started taking photos—and winning awards for them—at a young age. But it took a climbing injury to set her on the path to being a professional. Her style is distinct; her portraiture brims with intimacy and emotion that Smith says is sourced from a deep sense of connection with her subjects.

In addition to her work as a photographer, Smith is a professional climber, guide and writer. Nikki is also an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, and speaks to the challenges and opportunities facing brands—and climbing media like Alpinist—as they strive to be more inclusive. 

This episode is brought to you by Rab Equipment

Alpinist Magazine: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Host: Abbey Collins

Guest: Nikki Smith 

Producer + Engineer: Mike Horn