“Beth has always been at the fore of rock climbing,” Cordes says. “She was a leader before she even knew it, climbing routes beyond most of our imaginations.”
Her free ascent of The Nose [only the third free ascent of The Nose ever—with Tommy Caldwell] and her first ascent of Meltdown, are some of the most influential moments in climbing history, says Connor Herson, the youngest climber to free the Nose.
“She was part of that group of women who proved that climbing at a high level is not restricted to men.”
In her early 20s, Beth’s voracious drive led her to Yosemite, where she and Caldwell did the first free ascent of Lurking Fear on El Cap and a slew of other boundary-pushing climbs.
It was the beginning of the free climbing golden age on El Cap.
Beth was sleeping in the trunk of her two-door Honda Civic, camping illegally in the lodge parking lot, eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's after climbing each day, and swimming in the Merced with a now-iconic cast of Yosemite characters.
But Beth’s story took a sharp turn ...