Her tiny hands find holds so small we can hardly see them from the ground. A spidery crack, a hair-thin ridge, a pea-size bump act like ladder rungs as she dances her way up the slab of stone. She moves naturally, effortlessly, like an animal in its element. This delicate dance of strength and agility, of balance and nerve and grace, plays out on a boulder the size of a house way out in West Texas.
It’s daunting to follow the footholds of a rock climbing legend, but we are here to try. Our women-only climbing group has convened from eight states to explore the vertical world of Hueco Tanks State Historic Site. Filled with prehistoric pictographs and fragile desert ecosystems, the site is open only to those with a permit or a guide. We are lucky. Our guide, rock climbing pioneer Lynn Hill, is here to unlock the secrets of this stone.