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Community Highlights: Meet Sabra Purdy of Cliffhanger Guides

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sabra Purdy.

Hi Sabra, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Seth and I (Sabra) have known each other since High School and had been driving each other crazy for many years before we finally got together to make a go of it. We decided to start Cliffhanger Guides in 2010 so that we could build a company for ourselves the way we wanted to.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Uhh, no. Of course not. It’s a small business. Who has a smooth road while running a small business? We’ve been super lucky. We’ve been really successful and started our company at an ideal moment in Joshua Tree, but one of the hardest things has been navigating continuous growth both in our company and in the popularity of the park and climbing in general. It seems like every year there has been some crazy challenge… government shutdowns, pandemics, family needs, etc. And it is hard to watch the town and park become so popular with visitors. Both the park and the town are fraying a bit from the demand. It’s sad to see the trash and human impacts and the culture and vibe of the town have really shifted. Now it’s such an Instagram destination.

As you know, we’re big fans of Cliffhanger Guides. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
We are a locally owned and operated rock climbing guide service that specializes in custom guided rock climbing trips in Joshua Tree National Park. We are deeply connected to Joshua Tree and have lived and guided here for over 20 years. We are super connected to community and have made a major effort work with local born and raised folks to become guides. We love this dessert and are strongly committed to conservation, stewardship, and education. We love to show people less traveled areas of the park and help them become committed stewards of the land as well through love and education. We feel very lucky to get to live and work in such a beautiful place. We have an absolutely amazing team of guides and we always get to hang out with the coolest folks on our trips. Our motto has always been “the more you give, the more you get.”

What are your plans for the future?
We are in constant evolution. This pandemic year has been tough, the park was closed for nearly two months last spring in peak season. This year has been a roller coaster. We are always adapting and keeping things fresh though. For example, this year, we partnered with our good friends at Joshua Tree Music Festival (who have not been able to host a festival in nearly 18 months) to create a drive in movie theater at the festival site. That has been super fun and it is a mix of live entertainment, short films and feature films. It was a really cool way to make a covid-safe community entertainment experience for people and there has been a real hunger for it. People are so grateful to have somewhere to go and something to do outside of the house. Beyond that, this year we’ve been working on getting local tribal members out rock climbing as well as the rest of the local community, many of whom live at the margins of one of the great National Parks but have never been inside it. There is a real gap in access for poorer communities and communities of color in the outdoor recreation world. We are really interested in helping people get access and experience the joys and adventures that climbing has given us.

 Contact Info:

  • Email: cliffhangerguides@gmail.com
  • Website: www.cliffhangerguides.com
  • Instagram: @cliffhangerguides
  • Facebook: Cliffhanger Guides


Image Credits:

Kristi Odom

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