PARISA TABRIZ IS one of those Google engineers who guard the company’s technologies against malicious attack

—a white-hat hacker who seeks out security holes in the internet’s most important operation. She’s also a rock climber. And these two halves of her life have more in common than you might think.

Finding your way to the top of a rock wall, she says, is a bit like finding a hole in Google’s Chrome web browser or its Gmail email service. In each case, you “sense” a path to your destination.“There are no rules,” she’ll tell you. “There is no hard and fast way of doing it.” And the more you do it, the more attuned your sense becomes. It’s no surprise that many of her colleagues inside the Google security team are also rock climbers. At places like Lake Tahoe and Red Rock Canyon, outside of Las Vegas, she has climbed with Chris Evans and Rich Cannings and other notable Google hackers.

What’s more, she explains, these are both endeavors where women can operate on equal footing with men. “Rock climbing is one of the few sports that’s fairly gender neutral,” she says. “It doesn’t rest so much on the physical strengths you were born with. It’s also about mental discipline.”