Topics of Expertise: Rock climbing, skiing, mountaineering, hiking, camping
Years in This Expertise: Hiking and camping: 10+, rock climbing, skiing, and mountaineering: 3-4
Number Of Products & Number Of Hours Expert Has Tested: 50+, 600+ hrs
Education & Certifications
Education: Master’s Degree in Multi-Genre Creative Writing
Years of Writing: 10+
Certifications: Advanced Grant Proposal Writing
Club or Association Memberships: Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Pheasants Forever
Previous Publications: Portfolio at maddiedownie.com
Maddie’s infatuation for the outdoors is rooted in her backwoods Colorado upbringing. She grew up in the throws of the wilderness that surrounded her, hunting and fishing with her father, and finding obscure trails and mountains to scramble up on the weekends and after school. During the summers, she worked as a wrangler at a trail riding ranch, touring clients on horseback through the Colorado foothills.
She attended Hastings College in Nebraska and studied English and Communications. Though far from the mountains, she found other ways to wedge herself into the outdoor communities. In a senior year project, she studied a group of bigfoot believers in rural Nebraska, joining them for conferences and bigfoot hunts. Her 100+ page report is titled The Sasquatch Discourse.
After the plains, she ventured to the Pacific Northwest to attend graduate school at Western Washington University for Creative Writing. It was in Bellingham that her passion for the outdoors and for writing finally clicked together. She started rock climbing and backcountry skiing and found meaning in pushing her physical and mental limits in the Washington alpine. Her graduate thesis, High Gravity Days, is a collection of stories inspired by the time she spent rock climbing during the pandemic.
Specifically, Maddie is a lover of long, hard, obscure treks. She has challenged herself to summit all of the peaks in the list of Washington State Peaks with 2000 feet of prominence, which mostly consists of long hikes up logging roads and dense bushwhacks to summits She enjoys a big mountain or volcano as well, but her main love is alpine rock climbing, and she spends almost every weekend in the summer and fall in the North Cascades.
Maddie began freelance writing after graduating in 2022. Though her writing is seeded in fiction and poetry, she has worked on various gear reviews, trip reports, and blog posts for a variety of clients in the outdoor industry. She works as the Assistant Manager at VITAL Climbing Gym in Bellingham where she is able to stay up to date on industry trends and participate in the climbing community. Maddie is dedicated to themes of accessibility and informed recreation in the outdoors.
Graduated from Hastings College in 2020 with a BA in English and Communication studies
Moved to Bellingham, Washington and started rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and mountaineering
Graduated in 2022 with an MFA in Multi-genre Creative Writing
Had flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry published in various online and print magazines
Started working as the Assistant Manager at VITAL Climbing Gym
Started on as volunteer editor and contributing writer for a local equipment shop blog
A Word from Maddie Downie
I chose to delve into outdoor journalism not only because it means I get to write about the fun things I get up to on the weekends, but because I’m passionate about accessibility and informed recreation in the outdoors. My work in the climbing industry specifically, between managing a climbing gym and investigating the climbing community, has been inspired specifically by the women I’ve met (and look up to) within it. Through honest and thorough journalism, I want to make climbing and outdoor recreation accessible to all groups of people.
I’ve always been a writer, starting with the “novels” I used to crank out as a kid. Both my undergraduate and graduate studies were dedicated to storytelling. Though my work is rooted in poetry and fiction creative writing, I fell in love with journalism as soon as I did rock climbing. I began pestering local gear stores, outdoor magazines, and my friends and acquaintances for opportunities for publication soon after graduating with my MFA. Finally, a local outdoor gear store gave me the reins to their deserted blog and I got to work publishing gear reviews, trip reports, and blog posts for their clients. Since then, I’ve been writing my way into outdoor magazines and gear review sites.
If I were to define myself by any one interest it would be rock climbing. I dream of alpine starts and multi-pitch adventures in the North Cascades. I started backcountry skiing as a way to combat the Bellingham winter blues and found joy specifically in ski mountaineering. I’m a fan of anything that has to do with rock, snow, or dirt. Beyond outdoor recreation, I’m an animal lover (I have a rabbit named Fab) and a fiction enthusiast. And I still like to try my hand at a bit of poetry.