This past February I had the incredible opportunity to speak at the Cody Ice Festival in Cody, Wyoming. It was a wonderful weekend: after I spoke to a jam-packed room on opening night, we watched Scott Bennett share photos from his recent first ascent in Pakistan, drooled over all of next season’s gear, and got totally starstruck as Kitty Calhoun talked about last ascents. The lineup was fantastic:
My presentation was about gender dynamics in the mountains. We talked about stereotype threat, the Dunnin-Kruger effect, and the imposter syndrome — all of which have been researched extensively in other contexts, but which are only now being recognized as very real factors in the mountains. As I wrote later, “…here’s how I see it: if there’s information out there that might help me improve my communication, be a better climbing partner or help me make more informed decisions in the mountains and in life, I want to know about it. In the words of the ever-badass Lynn Hill: ‘I [have learned] that having a rigid mindset is a detriment, not only when it comes to gender, but also when dealing with the world at every level […] as climbers, we need to see possibilities instead of limitations.’”
“As our plane descended into the Bighorn Basin, we lurched so hard that the hinge on the bathroom door broke. I pressed my face to the window, fighting the urge to hurl, and looked down at ice gleaming on jagged peaks in every direction. It took the pilot of our puddlejumper three tries to get us on the ground, and later I read in the local paper that recorded winds were gusting to 110 mph.
Our motley crew had flown in for the Cody Ice Festival, and as we rallied toward town, we passed a guy walking along the side of the road dragging a duffel. Our driver (a local) pulled over, and that’s how we met Ted: by cramming him into the back seat, packs on our laps, and introducing ourselves. He was from Northern California, he said, and had come to climb. Could we just drop him off at his hotel? Oh yeah, it’s the one that’s so cheap that the hot tub is literally in the lobby. Right here, thanks. We shook our heads and smiled as we drove away. Wyoming attracts the hardmen and the cowboys and the weirdos, and that’s just the way they like it.” [Read the full piece here.]