The Daily - June 10,2022 - 23

Valley of Giants
A new collection from Mountaineers Books tells the stories of
women on Yosemite's big walls. Lauren Delaunay Miller
W
hile all of
the stories
in Valley of
Giants are
personal to
me, Josie McKee's is especially so.
When I was fi rst learning how to
big wall climb, Josie inspired and
mentored me. I met her through
our friend Quinn Brett, another
contributor to this book and idol
of mine, and whose paralyzing
climbing accident is described in
Josie's story.
Back in the fall of 2016, I was
in Yosemite Valley, camping with
Quinn and a crew of friends from
Estes Park, Colorado. Quinn had
teamed up with Josie to climb seven
Yosemite big walls in seven consecutive
days, and I was awestruck.
For a portion of their mission, I
was on a multiday ascent of the
Lost Arrow Spire, and they blazed
past me one morning as I was
waking up on one of the Spire's famously
spacious bivy ledges. They
disappeared above me as quickly
as they had arrived, and a few
hours later, they passed me again
while rappelling, though I had only
advanced a few hundred feet.
From that point on, Quinn and
Josie became my mentors. They
taught me not just how to climb
big walls, but how to climb them
quickly, making one-day missions
of routes I had never even dreamed
of climbing in several days. Josie's
legendary status as a member of
the Yosemite Search & Rescue
team only solidifi ed her status as
hero in my mind as the three of us
prepared for a one-day ascent of
the Triple Direct, a route that links
up three of the most famous routes
on El Capitan: the Salathe Wall,
the Muir Wall, and the Nose.
THREE DAYS LATER, WHILE CLIMBING ON
THE NOSE, QUINN TOOK A MONSTROUS
FALL. JOSIE UNDOUBTEDLY SAVED HER
LIFE, STABILIZING HER AND QUICKLY
INITIATING AN IMPROBABLE RESCUE.
Josie and I had tried the route earlier
that season, but we bailed in the
extreme August heat. When Quinn
arrived in the Valley, I was sure that
I'd be ousted from the team, but
Josie insisted that I still come along.
I did nothing but slow them down all
day, but they took me in and taught
me their ways, and for that I will be
forever thankful.
Three days later, while climbing
on the Nose, Quinn took a monstrous
fall. Josie undoubtedly saved
her life, stabilizing her and quickly
initiating an improbable rescue.
But Quinn was paralyzed from the
waist down, and nothing would
change that.
In this story, Josie grapples
with the weight of what happens
after a life-changing climbing
accident. How we justify the risks
we take and the precariousness of
our passions is something many
climbers have had to face, and
Josie is certainly no exception. This
story is an intimate look into one
climber's journey to fi gure out why
she does what she does and if it's
worth continuing.
OUTDOOR RETAILER SUMMER 2022 /
23
COURTESY DREW SMITH/MOUNTAINEERS BOOKS

The Daily - June 10,2022

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