“The toughest thing is that we get so a number of these children we are not able to save or we must say no to because we do not have the tools to perform the surgery or the youngster is now too ill,” she says. “Watching these children die, who, if they’d been born someone else–in Europe or America–could have had their operations as a baby and could have had a totally normal life. But they die before the age of one. It’s really unfair.

His chest cut open to show his little heart for surgery — the most unstable patient in the hospital when Libby Sauter leans over a little child in a working room. “You’ve got to try and be superorganized to keep everything together because there’s so much going on,” Sauter says.

Sauter’s mom and grandma were nurses–but, growing up, she never thought she wished to be one too.
But she doesn’t think about climbing a career. And she is not content to just divide time between stone walls and operating rooms in California. Rather, she estimates that 85 percent of her planet traveling –and she’s always traveling–is to get her nursing profession. And many of that travel would be to conflict zones and developing countries, where she helps perform heart surgeries working together with the NGO Novick Cardiac Alliance.

“The inherent bents of my character that draw me to the kind of climbing I really do are also the components that allow me to do the kind of nursing that I really do,” Sauter says. “… [Y]ou must get an approval of the chaos and understand that things are not always going to be able to be in the ideal spot.

We collaborated with Sauter to find the real story behind her life of chaos and company. Here are six things that you didn’t know.

“And big-wall speed climbing is extremely similar, in that I’m in a position to move quickly since I am organized and I’ve systems, however if the rope gets uncontrollable and it’s a giant mess dangling underneath me, I’m ready to look up and see that there are not any flakes coming or something, so it’s nice, and only allow it to be a mess for a bit, climb the pitches, and then sort it out if it’s convenient. It’s this mixture of organized chaos.”

Her takeaway: Ordinary life is relative.

She was a primary responder in the aftermath of Nepal’s 2015 earthquake–by accident.

“Life in Benghazi, Nepal, Ukraine… There are people who are just like us, only trying to create the best of their own lives. Raising children, making a fantastic dinner. Especially in the present global climate, there an mindset. It’s simple to turn away by distancing ourselves by the humanity of the others. However, if we remember that each mom loves her child the same, that will change.”

Sauter happened to be on a trip back to Nepal from Iraq to work for its Himalayan Cataract Project when the first quake struck –and she had been in the airport once the first of this aftershocks sent waves through the ground. “Originally I just walked up to a hospital and explained,’I am a child nurse, would you guys want help? ”’ she says. Before she is of no more usage, then left aid was provided by her at a remote field hospital. The entire time she received messages from folks back home, asking how they can help. She urged people instead of showing up without any skills or provides to contribute to organizations that have the staff to assist. “Sometimes the best thing to do is acknowledge that you are in the manner and depart,” she says. “And it is hard to admit you’re in the manner, when you’re.”

She has worked within earshot of gunfire.
She can’t hold back the tears when she sees a parent shout at the living room.
As a cardiac nurse, since the stress weighs down she has discovered to contain her emotions, moving within the chaos of a living room staying calm and collected. It is a comfortable feeling–one she’s also undergone while hanging tens of thousands of feet over the valley floor of Yosemite.
“I’m pretty good at being guarded. In order to continue to function while someone is dying, and in order to not burn out, I’ve become quite proficient. Until I visit a parent crying, and it’s reflexive. I cannot not even  also cry with themcontinuing to function… No matter what nation we’ve already been in, you see that each and every mother loves her child the same.”
The job requirements for cardiac nursing and speed climbing overlap over you might think. And Libby Sauter’s resume checks each of the boxes–she famous for breaking the women’s speed record for climbing the Nose on Yosemite’s El Capitan. She was the first woman to walk through the Lost Arrow highline.
Sauter had always was interested in international service work and imagined himself in the Peace Corps. In her first year of nursing, she googled”volunteer” and”cardiac nursing,” and found the organization she works for now. Until it became a conflict zone she began working at Ukraine, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. She started working in places that were less stable, such as Iraq and Libya. “We used to go to Benghazi but no more do,” she states. “There’d be bombs that would stone the hospital building; we’d see plumes of smoke or hear AK fire going back and forth. Or watch tracer fire shoot throughout the sky. You felt somewhat out of control, as you did not feel as though your safety was really in your hands.”

Libby Sauter climbing in Zion; Photograph by Cody Tuttle

She feels worried when her life’s focus shifts too much to climbing.
Into Sauter, climbers are”conquistadors of this unworthy.” Climbing can make people happy, that can make them much better global citizens, she explains, and for many people, that is what they absolutely require. However, for her,”Climbing is another –it is something I really like and that helps me be happy. But I am happy climbing 100 percent of the moment. When my balance has shifted too much toward climbing, I sort of get unmotivated and a bit bored and feel somewhat guilty.”

As a moved, high-achieving high school student, Sauter never considered nursing as a career. She had thought about instructing or medicine but only clicked”nursing” as a placeholder college major on an internet application form. It wasn’t until she realized how well it fit for climbing she actually embraced it together along with her growing love. “It really was the schedule and assure of adequate pay–three days a week is full time and you will find good jobs all around the nation,” she says. However, by now she finished school, she got psyched about nursing.