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“And pretty soon, I was good enough to be recognized in the offwidth community. Probably because it’s so small, but whatever. The fact is, without compartment syndrome, I probably never would have found offwidths. So it’s really turned out in the best possible way.”

F

rom 2007 to 2011, Pack helped put offwidths back onto the map of modern climbing. Climbers had started grunting their ways up the gritty cracks of Vedauwoo, Wyo., in the 1950s, and the place became well known in the ’70s as climbers freeclimbed routes that had previously been climbed only by artificial means, which often meant squeezing wooden blocks into cracks to provide hand and foot holds. The advent of sport climbing— wherein climbers clip ropes to bolts drilled into rock for protection—took some of the luster off traditional offwidth climbing, but Pack’s mentor, Craig Luebben, helped rejuvenate the sport near the turn of the century. “I was so lucky to have met Craig, and although I never got to climb with

him, I did decide to do an homage to offwidths by repeating 10 of his most famous desert offwidths,” Pack says of Luebben, who died in 2009 in an accident on a glacier in Washington’s North Cascades while obtaining his guide certification. Pack was so sure of her skills she believed she could repeat Luebben’s routes in one climbing season. In fact the climbs proved so difficult that two years went by, a time during which she learned the offwidth truth already articulated by Luebben. “Nothing on the planet can deliver a physical and emotional whipping like a hard offwidth,” Luebben once wrote. “In offwidths and squeeze chimneys I’ve witnessed good climbers curse, cry, whimper, moan, scream, pray, hyperventilate, and vomit. Wider than your fist yet too small to accommodate your body, an offwidth requires more effort per inch of stone than perhaps any other type of climbing.” Homages aside, Pack and climbing partner Patrick Kingsbury have spent the past seven years finding and putting up new routes, mostly in the Utah desert, which is home


Montana Headwall