I don’t know what to say about the rock climbing in Vedauwoo except that I had no expectations coming here. June scared me because it was an entire month in a state that I’ve never been to and I didn’t really have a game plan.

When I really miss home, home finds me. Photograph by Josh Barta

I came to Vedauwoo knowing that it’s hard when you’re not the best, but also knowing that this is how you get better. Grit is an interesting thing, I remember Ted Eliason telling me a few weeks back. You grit your way through growing up, through a high school curriculum, college, relationships and so on. Grit can be the key to success but is often an unpleasant thing.

That’s without a doubt how I feel about wide cracks. Vedauwoo changed the game. One of the biggest reasons for leaving the east coast was to get my offwidth skills dialed because we really don’t have wide cracks the way that the west does back home. A few, sure, but the concentration of them here is unimaginable and especially in the Voo, where there are moderates that will teach you and those that will test you.

I came from Ten Sleep sunbathed and recharged, feeling strong from sport climbing crimps and monos for days. I was so unprepared. Climbing for a week in Vedauwoo is like being in an abusive relationship with the rock. The physical brutality of it all, the tears, struggle, and constantly telling yourself, “I’m different this time!” or “I can change!”

Wearing helmets in offwidths is the worst. Photograph by Josh Barta

Climbing offwidths is kind of a cyclical thing. You feel psyched and strong, and then you spend a day being puzzled by 5.9+, walk away bloody feeling demoralized, and by the time you descend back to the parking lot you start thinking to yourself in the car: “Oh, maybe if tomorrow I try it this way.”

And, pretty much at the end of every day here I’ve thought to myself: I want to go home. I’m leaving tomorrow.

Every. Single. Day.

But instead, we awoke every morning and drank coffee for four hours, which was long enough to rebuild enough psych to try again.

I really like Wyoming.

My favorite Wyoming sunset outside of Josh Barta’s apartment

Before Pam Pack, Ashley Cracroft, and Danny Parker showed up, Christina Natal took me to the Torpedo Tubes and we both stared up at two cracks. The colors, the sizes of the roofs, and the shape of the cracks all blew me away. The view of them both was breathtaking and I immediately understood why Christina loved this place so much. Explaining that these were cracks she’s dreamed of climbing since she first laid eyes on them, I knew she wanted to lead both of them.

This is one of the reasons why I respect Christina the way that I do. The firmness in her voice, the no bullshit and self-assured attitude she possesses, and yet she is one of the most caring women I know. I’ve always been a little envious of these qualities because all of her strongest points are my weakest ones.

The Left and Right Torpedo Tubes

I can’t compare myself to her, in that way, though, because we are entirely different people coming from entirely different walks of life. The fact that climbing put us on a path that runs parallel to one another makes me a lucky woman. We’ve laughed and cried (and laughed until we cried) and even though she asks me the hard questions sometimes, I need that in my life. I need friends who challenge me even though it makes me uncomfortable.

Once, I heard another woman say that she felt like she needed to climb 5.10s because her friend also climbed 5.10s, and that’s not the kind of climbing relationship I want with Christina. It’s less about comparing and more about learning, because friends are meant to be teachers.  We aren’t being pitted or set against one another; we’re in each other’s lives because we were meant to move forward, side by side.

Glitter tattoos: necessary

Besides, who else will be a fat kid, drink coffee on our stoop for hours and hours, encourage binge eating pizza and cake, AND climb offwidths with me?

And so we stood in front of the Tubes and she worked through the beta on the right (and I thrutched up the left) and we got to the top and at the end of the day, we enjoyed a really spectacular view together. And that’s what it’s all about.

Vedauwoo is going to take a little bit of grit. It’s going to take a little bit of soul searching. It might take a little bit of blood and skin, too. But there are s’mores and psyched friends, and at the end of the day, my dog doesn’t care if I can flail up a 5.9+ wide crack or not. If Shooter doesn’t care, I don’t care either.

Every day that I tell myself I’m going to go back to Colorado, I wait until the next morning to make a conscious decision to stay and try something that doesn’t come easily to me. People don’t climb offwidths because they don’t like them—some choose not to because there’s that thought inside of them, suggesting that they might not be able to get to the top. Every morning, I convince myself to stay because I honestly just want to know if I can make it to the top…but if that doesn’t happen, that’s okay too.

And really, anything that gives me another excuse to consume 3,818 calories per climb (that’s how many calories are in a pizza cake) is okay with me.

One thought

  1. “If Shooter doesn’t care, I don’t care either.”
    – fyi, im adopting this. okay fine, i dont have a dog yet, but i like this perspective. if im kicking myself over something, i will think, does Cheese (Booger, Nacho, Squirrel, or [insert fictional future dog name here]) give a shit if I succeed at this or not? and if no, then i will go home happier. maybe i should get a dog.
    thanks kathy. ps, you’re killing it, dude.

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