Seven best moments in climbing career:
(I’m not very good with numbers, or with dates…..I started climbing when I was 18, and am 33 now.)
1. When I was about 20, I went climbing at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It was the first time leading that I wasn’t scared, and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I couldn’t even believe that I had enjoyed climbing in the past, realizing that I had always been held back by fear. This was so different, so much more fun! Wow!, I thought naively, how great that I will never be scared again!! Little did I know…..everything has its cycles, including fear. I feel that same sense of freedom and true ecstasy whenever I enter the cycle of fearlessness.
2. In 1996, I turned 24. I climbed Tricks are For Kids at Indian Creek, my first 5.13 redpoint, and then almost immediately left for my first trip to Patagonia. It was an exhilarating time.
3. At age 25 I went to Kyrgyzstan. Partly to prove something to myself, I soloed a 30 pitch rock route on a peak there, inventing my rope solo systems and spending a night on the route. For me, that was a really pivotal experience.
4. At age 29, my fifth season in Patagonia, I finally climbed Fitzroy, with a German I met in the base camp. When I returned to the States, Dean and I got engaged and married that summer. That marked the end of expeditions, for some time, and the beginning of intense free climbing focus in Yosemite for the next couple of years. In the past, I had kept switching between expeditions and free climbing at home, and had never been able to consistently improve as a free climber. Marriage marked a change in this routine. It was time to stay in the States, and embrace my husband’s passion for Yosemite.
5. When I was 31, I freed El Cap, and then a month later freed it in a day. I had switched my focus completely to free climbing on El Cap, and for the first time felt the confidence that I could achieve a big free climbing goal if I committed myself.
6. In the winter of the same year, Dean and I went to Patagonia after a two year break from it. Together, we made the first one-day ascent of Torre Egger. We have both spent many seasons in Patagonia, both together and separately, with a lot of effort, success and heartbreak. To make this ascent together really meant a lot to us, as husband and wife and as climbing partners.
7. In 2005, I freed the Salathe Wall on El Cap. For me, that was a dream of a lifetime.