Girly Guide, Kitty Calhoun, gives us a taste of her latest adventure on El Cap. She reminds us that while our lives have many moving parts, you can never stop learning from climbing and applying those lessons to everyday life. To read the full blog post, check out Patagonia’s Cleanest Line Blog.
Written by: Kitty Calhoun
I anticipated the change with dread and excitement. My son was leaving the nest for college and I was determined to return to my former goal-driven climbing lifestyle. Fred Becky would be proud of me. After a night of mourning, alone under the desert stars, I promptly returned home, found my address book, and started calling all the girls I knew who might be interested in my next project.
I had become fixated on Tangerine Trip, VI A2 or C3F, on El Cap for a number of reasons. Nothing compares to the nights spent sitting on a portaledge, hundreds of feet above the valley floor, where only a few have earned the position. There is nothing to do but eat dinner—a bagel with cream cheese and tuna, perhaps—and slip into the sleeping bag. I savor the brief escape from the concerns and busyness of the world, where silence is broken only by the whoops of joy from other souls perched high on the wall and swallows swoop through the air, enjoying themselves just as much as the climbers.
Even though aid climbing is out of vogue, I’ve found that leading hard aid pitches challenges me and scares me just as much as any other form of climbing. No, I’m not ready to live vicariously just yet.
But the slip into retirement started to feel inevitable as my phone calls were returned. A couple of girls were recovering from surgery, two more couldn’t fit it into their schedules, and another two didn’t feel qualified. My own work obligations were piling up and free time was disappearing. So when my friend, Karen Bockel, showed up at Red Rocks and agreed to climb The Trip as soon as I finished work, I didn’t look twice at the metal knee brace she was sporting. My old attitude—that I could get myself and my partner up anything—had taken hold of me once again.