Hueco Tanks with the LCC
by Emily Brown
When I saw the trip posting for Hueco, I hesitated. I’ve been a part of the climbing community for nearly a decade and had never been outside with a group, and the majority of outdoor and gym climbing I did, I did alone. The community had brought me out of my shell little by little, but I still felt a lack of cohesion. I had just traveled half of the country to be alone. I moved from Louisiana to Virginia to even out the turbulence of finishing grad school and a hectic breakup. I wasn’t looking to make friends, I was looking to make peace. When I registered for this trip to Hueco, I didn’t realize these two things would be in juxtaposition.
Upon arriving at Hueco Tanks, I was nervous, as I always am in new social situations — though a little less so because this was a group of women, people like me who had undoubtedly also climbed with mostly men, of the ‘I don’t know why MY BETA doesn’t work for you’ type (which is not to say that I do not have respect for the men I’ve climbed around). I undeniably felt awkward during the initial meet up – maybe we all did in a way because it turned out almost everyone was new to each other and to Hueco.
We soon approached our first boulder, hung upside down and shook out our inhibitions while the conversation flowed. I laughed, talked seriously and jokingly. I felt vulnerable, but didn’t feel the need to be guarded. I saw the faces of women who were strangers soften into faces of friends working hard for themselves and for all of us. I saw the contagious glue of community int he way we all coaxed and cheered on others and ourselves to do problems we were afraid to do. It felt like peace and community. It felt like home.
The Ladies Climbing Coalition has swept me off my feet much like the brown out we experienced in Hueco nearly did to all of us. I wish I had more words to express my gratitude for the many and diverse experiences I had being cracked wide open on that weekend getaway, but I’ve accepted that there just aren’t any.