Dawn Wall


Well…they did it! These two youngsters free climbed Yosemite’s previously unclimbable Dawn Wall.

No use of metal, hammered in foot/hand holds… just raw gut and heart and muscle and perseverance and faith and more heart.

Fingers reaching for life while eyes likely averted from images of a death drop.

Every cell on board…reaching.

Risk. Re-access. Risk. Re-access.

National Geographic would never think to cover my own Dawn Wall journey.

Seems so puny and inconsequential in comparison.

I’ll likely not get to pose at the summit of my scaled cliff with jubilant abandon with fists and face turned toward the heavens wearing cool, sponsor provided clothes to be envied.

There won’t be a place in the history books reading: “Cathy Aten, in partnership with Primary Progressive MS did what it took to craft a richly textured life with fine and supportive friends and family. She woke most mornings and tried to take the high road. She is in love with life and turned toward curiosity when turning away was so much easier. She risked love, forgave as best she could and finally…finally fell in love with her self. ”

There just aren’t any public awards given for all the private Dawn Walls we each scale. All the time. Ever so privately.

No accolades or cheers bursting from the gallery.

I’m happy to say I don’t need or want any medal hanging round my neck; I have the grand prize of a Self with a capitol “S”

And no one can ever take Her away from me.

She is very hard earned and won.

My highest accomplishment is ME.


3 Responses to “Dawn Wall”

  1. KK on January 18th, 2015

    You are spot on, Cathy. Besides, some of us (me!) thought the whole climbing thing was ridiculous. Deliberately putting one’s self in harm’s way when that energy could be used for something that really matters in our world reminds me of a kid saying, “Hey, look at me!” As far as I’m concerned, people like you are the real heroes.

  2. Jim on January 18th, 2015

    I couldn’t disagree more with part of KK’s response. Climbers do not deliberately put themselves in harm’s way. One of the climbers fell 15 times on just one of the 32 pitches and was protected by his safety equipment all 15 times. Extending the boundaries of human achievement really matters, at least to some of us. And, I suspect, extending boundaries of what’s possible is also of great concern to Cathy and many, if not all, of her readers.

    I do agree that Cathy is a hero and just now I could have sworn I heard some cheers bursting from her gallery.

    And, as a wearer of functional outdoor clothing when I’m doing outdoor activities, let me be the first to suggest that Cathy’s textile designs are way more interesting!

  3. Bryan Adams on January 18th, 2015

    I think in the hearts of those blessed to be part of the circle of community that your shared story has created, your courage is recored. Thank you for scaling the many mountains–––and valleys you’ve taken us on. Cheers!!!

    Peace and Love,


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