Don’t Let Them See You Cry


Keep your sunglasses on, wipe your nose.

“It’s just cold that’s all.”

Keep going. Keep climbing.


Take a deep breath, relieve the tightening in your chest, the lump in your throat.

“This is fun, you’re having fun.”

Steady your steps.


Speak with a firm voice, be decisive.

Trust your own words so they believe you too.

Don’t let your wavering voice reveal your wavering heart.


Be strong, be fast, never breathe heavy or get scared.

Carry more weight, make sure they know you can.

Don’t fall. Never fall.


Look the part.

Have all the right stuff, but it must look well used.

Drive all over Seattle borrowing the things you need to do your job.


“You’re our guide?”

“You’re a tough little girl.”

“She was just a little girl, but she was strong.”

“How old are you?”

“She’s still young.”

“You’re still a little young.”

“Do you never do this?”

“Have you ever done this before?”

“Have you ever climbed this before?”

“We’ve had problems with female guides.”


Don’t be dramatic.

Don’t take it too personally, don’t be overly sensitive.

Just be one of the guys.


But be pretty.

Smile and charm. Take ’em to dinner.

Paint your toenails and don’t show the calluses the boots leave behind.


Don’t fall. Never fall.

Don’t let them see you cry.

At work in June













I can breathe.

I can walk and talk and breathe through my nose and carry the rope.

Or not. I don’t have to carry the rope.


I never fell. 

I finished the climb and so did they.

Up and down, top to bottom.


Sometimes I got scared.

Sometimes so did they. Sometimes they swore or turned us around.

And almost all of them were men.


My pants are stained, my hat is sun-bleached.

Sometimes I buy new stuff because it works better than what I already have.

I always wash my clothes.


“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Katie.”

“I’ll be your guide this week.”

“This was my first multi-pitch climb too, years ago.”

“This route has changed so much since I climbed it two weeks ago!”

“I’m not sure what the route will look like now.”

“We’ll see what we can do up there.”


My feet are like leather.  

My toenails are purple to match a dress I wore the other day.

My skin is pale. (Sun protection is important.)


I am sensitive. And so are they.

I’ll not brush it off. I’ll turn around, back off the climb.

I’ll get scared. And so will they.


And still.


Speak with a firm voice.

Don’t fall. Never fall.

Don’t let them see you cry.

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