Midlife Girl’s Guide to Rock Climbing*

*Because life is short enough without being bored.

In order to reach this 800 year old ruin in Butler Wash, a few rocks had to be climbed.


Here we are in scenic Blanding, Utah, land of opportunity: to see endless sky,  get dirty, sunburned, slide down rocks, go further than you should go, see ancient ruins and, of course, CLIMB ROCKS! While Mike is suffering under the tutelage of managment/excutive types at Boeing’s Leadership Institute in St. Louis (Wah! Sorry, honey. We miss you!), I’ve been spending our anniversary with Andrew hiking the desert down in Blanding, Utah, motto: at least 300 miles from anywhere. This is our 4th trip down here together with Mike and Claire joining us on one trip. This is where I come when I’ve had just about enough of the cold, wet, dark weather we enjoy 9 months of the year in Tacoma. Coming to southern Utah clears my mind, cleanses my soul, and generally acts like a good chimney cleaning for my entire being. I get warm from the inside out.  I love it here. Until I can enjoy the endless expanses of ocean from the deck of a boat, I will come down here and enjoy the endless expanses of desert as often as I can.

With that in mind, I offer ‘Midlife Girl’s Guide to Rock Climbing’, Utah style. I don’t know about you, but I simply refuse to stop climbing on rocks just because I’ve hit middle age. The big rocks here positively hum under my hands with the most gentle earthy feeling. They are absolutely nothing like the rocks in Washington, so full of fire and action. These rocks are gentle, old, settled in. These rocks are positively nurturing.  So rather than stop, because a boring life is just unthinkable, I’ve determined that the correct approach to rock climbing is to simply adapt my techniques. Maybe I used to be a mountain goat, but I now find myself feeling more akin to certain other animals. The photos and captions tell the story.

The Snake. Useful for traveling up the side of steep rocks. Lean into the rock and then ripple your stomach muscles. No, I didn't know I had any there, either. Trust me. They will grip the rock, enabling a slow but sure slither uphill until you reach the ledge.

You will feel like this when the mission is accomplished. No wusses allowed on these rocks! Note filthy shirt. I don't care.

The Four Wheel Drive. This position is useful when the rock is too difficult to stand on, but not steep enough for the 'Snake' posture.

The gecko, for completely vertical rock faces. Okay, okay. Yes, the photo is actually turned. But it looks really bad ass, right? I actually do not have sticky pads on my feet and hands. This is the 'Spider Monkey' position for those times when you have a good hand hold and want to walk your feet up to your hands before letting go. A VERY useful position.

Rock hugger, when you must become one with the rock in order to make it across a ledge. Kissing the rock is permitted, and may ensure safe passage. Lots of big cat prints in this area, but no big cats to be seen.

Mastering these skills will allow you to access sites like this:

Taken at the Butler Wash ruin.Not many modern masons can touch the perfection of the geometric shapes in this ancient place. Andrew and I heard voices, but there was no one there. Glad Andrew heard them, too.


Two more days in Blanding! Now for a hot bath and a few ibuprofen.

8 thoughts on “Midlife Girl’s Guide to Rock Climbing*

  1. omg!!!!!! YOU HAVE NOT CHANGED SINCE YOU PICKED UP A SNAKE AS A 2YO… I am so glad that you are having a good time.. The pictures are wonderful….

  2. neat trip! I would love to hike up there and see those old stones. Old places, where humans once lived are awe inspiring to me.

    Happy anniversary.

    • Thanks, Dani! You guys will be celebrating your own 30th before you know it. You should definitely get up here and hike southern Utah. Sunshine and no humidity!

  3. MELISSA WHITE!!!!! I never had you pegged for a spoil sport! You could just have left that gecko number UNexplained! It was brilliant and then you just HAD to confess! But seriously the joy and free-ness you were experiencing were evident in the looks on your face. What an amazing experience to share with your son!

    • It’s probably more fun for me than it is for him, but he’s probably safer with me than he would be with friends. So I think we’re even!
      We’re having a good time, for sure.

  4. Wow, you look amazing climbing those rocks. I don’t think I have ever done that or looked as free as you do. Hope you are having as an amazing time as it looks like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.