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Learning to Fly

A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go

About The Book


World-class free climber Steph Davis delivers a “thrilling and infectiously interesting” (San Francisco Book Review) memoir about rediscovering herself through love, loss, and the joy of letting go. The paperback includes a new epilogue in which Davis shares how her husband’s tragic accident has affected her relationship to climbing and flying.

Steph Davis is a superstar in the climbing community and has ascended some of the world’s most awe-inspiring peaks. But when her husband makes a controversial climb in a national park, the media fallout—and the toll it takes on her marriage—suddenly leaves her without a partner, a career, a source of income…or a purpose.

In the company of only her beloved dog, Fletch, Davis sets off on a search for a new identity and discovers skydiving. Falling out of an airplane is completely antithetical to the climber’s control she’d practiced for so long, but she perseveres, turning each daring jump into an opportunity to fly, first as a skydiver, then as a base jumper. As she opens herself to falling, she also finds the strength to open herself to love again, even in the wake of heartbreak. And before too long, she meets someone who shares her passion for living life to the limit.

With gorgeous black-and-white photos throughout, Learning to Fly is Davis’s fascinating account of her transformation. From her early tentative skydives, to zipping into her first wingsuit, to surviving devastating accidents against the background of breathtaking cliffs, to soaring beyond her past limits, she discovers new hope and joy in letting go.

About The Author

Photograph © Tommy Chandler

Steph Davis is a world-renowned climber, skydiver, and BASE jumper. In addition to her blog on veganism, animal rights, and simple living at, she has written for Climbing and Rock and Ice. Her first book, High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity, was published in 2007. She lives in Moab, Utah.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (November 3, 2015)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451698336

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Raves and Reviews

“Thrilling and infectiously interesting, I found this book a great read and hard to put down. What’s next, Steph? Everest?”

– San Francisco Book Review

“In becoming a skydiver and realizing how little she can control, she learns to trust herself again, lets go of her need for total self-reliance, and finds renewal. . . . Davis’s philosophy of facing one’s fears will strike a chord with readers.”

– Publishers Weekly

"[Davis] provides a gripping account of how she overcame her fears and her delight as she mastered the skills needed to skydive."

– Kirkus Reviews

Learning to Fly is a fascinating read. It looks inside the mind of a unique individual. Davis lives a life very few will understand. Her willingness to push herself physically while protecting herself emotionally is only part of what makes her so unique.”

– Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)

“Really an inspiring book, not only to get oneself outdoors, but to realize that, even with the loss of absolutely everything that seems important, it's not only possible but imperative to move forward and continue to enjoy life. Deftly written with Davis's outward journey mirroring the journey within.”


"What puts this book out front in the adventure category is that Davis doesn’t bog it down with clunky 'climbing as journey' metaphors – but they’re in there, anyway. She just sort of lets her story shake it all loose, slowly revealing bits of herself – sometimes she figures stuff out, sometimes she makes mistakes, but her hope is that only she gets hurt in the process."

– Kyle Wagner, The Denver Post "Pages" blog

"Alive, passionate, intense . . . about everything, Steph Davis climbs vertical slopes, drops out of planes, leaps off of cliffs, and in the process teaches us all how to deal with the devastations, the fears, the challenges, and the joyous moments of life. Steph takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster full of highs, lows, and love, and it's contagious. You won't walk away unaffected."

– Rita Golden Gelman, author of Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

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