I don’t know what to say about the rock climbing in Vedauwoo except that I had no expectations coming here. July 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. So far, this is what I’ve learned about Vedauwoo: It is always windy. The rock is always sharp. The rock here greatly resembles Dr. Seuss poop. And as the locals put it: “The climbing here weans out the soft, the weak, and the spineless.”
One of the reasons I came out west was because I really wanted to learn how to climb offwidths. In the Voo, everything is working against you and all at the same time: the flare, the lean, and the size. Heel toes, stacks, and wings started feeling a little more secure, which is about as close to feeling “nice” as you’re going to get.
Grit is an interesting thing. You grit your way through growing up, through high school, college, relationships and so on. Grit can be the key to success but is often an unpleasant thing. And that’s kind of how I feel about wide cracks. Pretty much at the end of every day here, I’ve told myself: I’m leaving. This suchs. And I want to go home. Every. Single. Day.
Last fall in the Creek, I tried to climb Big Baby (5.11). Because 4s are my absolute enemy, I bailed and had a meltdown. Because I suddenly wasn’t the “strong” climber, and I knew it and everybody was there to witness it. As friends dispersed, I lagged behind and cried. Erick stayed and tried to comfort me, which probably made me cry even more. I cry, a lot. All of the time, in fact. In parking lots and at bases of climbs and every goddamn Disney film ever made. I know, I know. I’m a real girl these days.
Climbing these kinds of cracks has taught me about humility and perseverance, and I think that when we test ourselves in challenging ways, we start to see our self-worth. Going up some rock has nothing to do with the person I am; it’s more about the person I have been becoming. It’s about the person I’ve spent four years molding, learning how to define my own limits, push past fears, and make mistakes.
Vedauwoo might take a little bit of grit. Every day that I tell myself I’m going to go back to Colorado, I make the conscious decision to stay and try. It might take a little bit of blood and skin, but there are s’mores and friends with endless stoke, and honestly—at the end of the day, my dog doesn’t care if I can flail up a 5.9+ wide crack or not. So, if Shooter doesn’t care, I don’t care either.
“The girls climb harder than the boys, here. They puff up their chests, braced, alone but staunchly, brutally forging ahead.”
Cover photograph courtesy of Aly Nicklas.