I picked up Rob in Salt Lake City around noon and the temperature was a cool 95 degrees. We decided that the weather would determine our course eastward and the rate of travel. We headed up to wild iris (central Wyoming) for some higher elevation sport climbing– but we were plagued with car trouble on the way as the dragon wagon does not like heat, altitude or being loaded down.

But with some patience and a few quarts of oil we were able to get where we were going.

We spent the last couple of days clipping bolts at 9000 feet which was awesome-there are lots of great routes there and a great camping situation too! We climbed routes up to 5.11 and managed to not get too worn down. The climbing itself was fun but not remarkable–what was really a breakthrough for me is something that may seem illogical: falling!

There is a saying that if you’re not “flying'”, you’re not tryin’. Part of the point of this project is to celebrate the need to “try” and not to simply drift along avoiding challenge.

Heights don’t bother me. Exposure doesn’t bother me. Even combining the two without a rope–no problem. But tying into a rope and climbing on tenuous holds–invoking the possibility of even short falls scares the (insert expletive here) out of me. I don’t like falling.

Many times I have down-climbed to avoid falling and wound up doing more work that way than if I had just kept going up–because reversing moves are sometimes way harder than making them initially.

I was climbing on what I thought would be our morning warmup route-I was stoked to have a partner and I asked to have first lead. It looked 5.8 or so and we didn’t have a guidebook so we were just eyeballing it.

I climbed up past the first couple of bolts before coming to the realization that my judgement was skewed and we were on a solid 5.10 route instead!

After a shameful amount of down-climbing and dithering I thought I had a workable sequence and I set off into the crux of the climb. I thought I was through it and as I reached for what I thought was a “thank God” jug I felt a shallow, greasy pocket and as I bore down on it with all the courage and optimism I could muster, I began to realize—

That I was airborne.

The worst feeling is the dread of falling. As I felt myself float–down past the bolt I was bracing for the rope to arrest
my fall. In that split second, two distinct questions went through my mind: 1) will the rope actually hold me or have I been the victim of an elaborate hoax? 2) Why am I still falling?

1) It held just fine. 2) Because Rob decided to give me a little extra slack to soften the catch!

I have taken some shorter falls before but never really committed to airing it out enough to properly whip. That was a big deal for me. The only way to get over that fear is to confront it. I am not past it but this was significant progress.

Rain moved in on day 2 and as we got back to camp we decided that sitting around in the mud and wind would probably be a poor life choice considering the distance ahead of us that would need to be covered!

So we packed up and moved slowly east (unless we are going downhill we average 50-55 mph) just behind a pretty massive cold front/storm system. It worked out well though because we avoided the quarter sized hail and drama that went with it as we moved into South Dakota.

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Loaded down!
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Wild Iris WY
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Heading east in WY
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Fuel stop near Pinedale WY
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My blood sugar usually does well when I am on the road and these last few days have been no exception
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Somewhere east of Jeffrey City WY…

Next up, South Dakota and then a lot of flatness…

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