Saturday, January 15, 2011

We're not alone, we're together.

"What I realized last night as we were all sitting and spewing our hearts out, was that for us, as women, being together is our solo. When else do we get that kind of space for ourselves? When else can we talk freely, honestly, and not fear interruption or ridicule? When else can we sit under the stars, and just be, not 'alone' -- you know, the way men see us when we're without them -- but together? We're on solo from our lives as women. And we love it."
- From We Are Not Alone, an essay by Alison Watt, in Solo On Her Own Adventure

We're women. And we like men a lot. We both owe a tremendous debt to the men in our lives... the dads who pitched canvas tents in the yard for us to sleep in during summer nights and who dragged us out camping and hiking when we were surly teenagers.

The dad who, when Teresa went to go bike around the Big Island of Hawaii, pulled her aside and told her how proud he was, and that he'd always wanted to do something similar but never did.

The dad who, during a rare late night phone conversation, told me that he'd always dreamed of climbing Mount Rainier, and was so incredibly proud of me for doing it.

Men have played a part in each of our lives as climbers. Of the partners, friends, and teachers who have been most influential in our climbing lives, many of them are men. And to them we owe a debt of gratitude for the influences they've had. In climbing, and in life.

And, that said, this year is about climbing with other women.

Hopefully our manfriends will forgive us... hopefully you men listening to our story won't feel left out... but we've both spent a lot of time cleaning gear and a little time placing it, and we're really excited about working together to learn to be more independent as climbers. Somehow, climbing together, and with other women, feels like the right way for us to work toward our goals.

(a side note: again, manfriends, I hope you wont be offended. I have learned so much from you. For whatever reason, when it's just the girls climbing is not only a team sport, or about providing the support to get my partner where they want to go. But it's also an individual activity. Climbing with the girls, I feel less like a tag-along - I climb for me, I climb in pursuit of my goals, while climbing with my girls too. It's not mutually exclusive. I can't say why it's different, that's for Psychology Today to analyze, it just is. ~Teresa)

There's so much emphasis in adventure culture on doing things alone. Epic solos. Solo travel. And that growth and evolution only come from time spent alone.

We've both done stuff alone. And it's been great (mostly). (and we're good at doing stuff alone ~T) And we'll do other stuff alone. But this year, we're going to do stuff together and with our other amazing woman friends. To learn -- together -- how to be independent. We'll travel Solo in Tandem.


  1. Thanks for that Sara.

    As a father of 3... with one little girl, her experiences are so different when we are outdoors that I sometimes wonder if she was on the same trip that the rest of us were on. I will set that phrase "alone together" in the back of my mind when I set up that giant pain the butt canvas tent in the backyard each summer.


  2. Marc - your little girl is so lucky! The adventures she will have in that tent in the backyard and the places it will take her - even if they're just in her imagination - will set the stage for her to confidently take on adventures throughout the rest of her life. Many of the reasons we become the outdoor-loving women we are can be easily traced back to our father's who passed that love on to us. Thanks for sharing and for setting up that pain in the butt tent each summer. :)

  3. Oh I love this. Wishing the PNW and Midwest were just a *little* bit closer to each other, so I could join you guys in girl adventures.

  4. One thing that I'm kind of disappointed in (with the world in general, not with this post in particular) is that every time women want to do something without men we seem to feel obligated to first make men feel better by telling them that we don't hate them, we love them, etc.

    I don't particularly love men any more than I love all of humanity so it seems like a weird thing to have to say all the time. Like if I'm eating an orange I don't have to say I don't hate apples.

  5. @Kg has introduced me to you guys via Twitter (I'm nowhere near the power user y'all are!) and I love your mission for this year! I wonder if you have any suggestions for a solo gal new to the city and new to outdoor climbing for getting into it as the season rolls around? I've been living abroad away from climbing gyms for the last two years and I've been so excited to get back and into the swing of things. But everyone is so PRO here I'm not sure where to start! Would love some tips if you have any - thanks!