Sunday, March 08, 2015

Women in My Life...

Since it is Women's History Month I thought I'd share  some thoughts about the women in my life on International Women's Day.

Jacki on the Pancake Flake,(23rd pitch on The Nose).
First and foremost my wife of 15 years, Jacqueline Adams Florine. Our first date was a hike up to Half Dome, climbed Snake Dike, then descended the Death Slabs!  Jacki was a NY climbing guide when I met her. She quickly became proficient on big walls despite her 'short cliff up-bringing' in the Shawangunks. Within four years of climbing in the West, she soloed The Leaning Tower, Lurking Fear and was the first woman to solo The Nose. An accomplishment that waited 12 years for another woman to repeat. (She also climbed a number of walls with other women and men.) A few years later Jacki became the first woman to climb all 14 of the California 14ers continuously, in under 10 days. A feat I had done years earlier with two other male partners. Jacki did it alone, pairing up with numerous partners who had to tag team to keep up with her. I tagged along with her for the Palisades range traverse*, which bags five 14ers in one sweep. We did it car-to-car in under 20 hours, I don't know of any other woman that has done that. 

Women 'Pre-Jacki:'

Top of Wolf's Head after climbing 20 classics in 20 days.
In the 90s I tried to send The Link Up** with a male partner and failed. Then I got closer to getting it with my friend, Abby Watkins. I finally did my first Link Up successfully with Nancy Feagin. Nancy and Sue McDevitt were the first woman's team to climb NIAD (Nose in a Day) in 1992. Another incredible climbing adventure I did with Nancy in 1993 was ascending all 20 of Steck and Roper's 20 classics in 20 days. 

In 1992, the year before Lynn Hill freed The Nose, she ran up it in under 10 hours with me. Amazing in that while we did it so fast Lynn was actually scoping it for the free climbing possibilities for the following year.

Incidentally, I've climbed El Cap with over 20 different women. In the fall of 2013 I did my only jug less one-day ascent of The Nose with Hazel Findley. Her preference! I have had the pleasure of climbing with incredible climbers, Bobbi Bensmen, Alison Osius/Benge, Tori Allen, Beth Rodden, and a good number of other women. The women I didn't list, should know I appreciate being able to adventure with them.

I feel very fortunate to have adventured with the above women and others. I learned something from each of them and because of it accomplished some of my best adventures. I hope you all get to climb with an incredible woman or three in March! To learn more about women in climbing, check out this great AAC article.

L to R. My sister, Roberta, Niece, Heather, Mom, Maryann, Daughter, Marianna, and Jacki.
Currently there are three special women in my life; my wife Jacki, my daughter Marianna and my mom, Maryann. I likely wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to pursue a non-conformist lifestyle of being a full-time climber in the 90s without the incredible support of my mom. I found a great picture with all three of my special women plus two other women in my life (my sister Roberta and niece Heather). It was taken at my mom's wedding last year. She married her teenage sweetheart after not communicating for over 50 years, but that's another blog post for another time...

Until next time!

*The "Full Palisade Traverse" includes The Middle Palisade, which Jacki did with Peter Coward. I was too tired to do that with her and the rest of the traverse on a separate day.
** "The Linkup" is climbing the Regular NW face route of Half Dome and The Nose of El Capitan in 24 hours. To date I think only three women have done that.