Fighting the Forever War, Vedauwoo, WY

Thank you to Edelweiss Ropes USA and Liberty Mountain for their support, outstanding ropes and this excellent video. The footage was shot by renown climbing photographer Nathan Smith. Check out more of his amazing work at Pull Photography.

Pamela Shanti Pack loading the clip on The Forever War, Vedauwoo, WY Photo: Zach Orenczak
Pamela Shanti Pack loading the clip on The Forever War, Vedauwoo, WY Photo: Zach Orenczak

The Forever War is an 85-foot pitch featuring 20 feet of inverted climbing through a steep roof, followed by overhanging arm-bars capped by 30 feet of 5.12a blue-collar groveling.  Despite the two bolts, the route still requires a hefty rack.

Pat had told me about the stunning inverted roof project he found last fall. After describing it as the most “agonizing, miserable, difficult and maybe impossible” invert he’s attempted I was convinced I was going to love it. However, standing at the base of the roof I started feeling queasy. I came up with the regular excuses for avoiding the route — I’m out of shape, my back hurts, I forgot Motrin and, well, it looks impossible. I taped my hands for the next hour, took knee pads on and off, and nervously changed color shirts a few times. We agreed this was not a good route to attempt to onsight as the roof is leaning about 40 degrees. Inverting at this angle means a fall will result in a dangerous slam to the head.

Pamela Shanti Pack pivoting at the crux of The Forever War, Vedauwoo, WY
Pamela Shanti Pack pivoting at the crux of The Forever War, Vedauwoo, WY

After the first moderate 30′ of climbing on the new project I was wedged into a squeeze chimney of sorts directly below the 25′ roof trying to figure out how to get inverted. I couldn’t get a solid fist stack to invert off.  I managed to invert by leaning off the back wall and gracefully smearing off the side of my head. I climbed it cleanly on top rope on my second attempt but red-pointing was intimidating.

We added two bolts to the route after a fall put me in the hospital with a damaged kidney. After five days in the hospital, nine days in bed, two surgeries and 100 episodes of Nip and Tuck I returned to Vedauwoo against my doctor’s recommendations.  I quickly dispatched of Simianatics and 8 Ounces to Freedom both V9 and considered two of the most difficult two invert offwidths in Vedauwoo. After repeating those hard inverts I concluded I was healthy enough to get back on the project. I was super relieved to finally red-point the route after one more spectacular whip from the crux.

I’ve climbed nearly every test-piece offwidth roof in Vedauwoo: Lucille (5.13a onsight), The Wing (5.12c first free ascent), Spatial Relations (5.13a first ascent), Trip Master Monkey (5.12b) and Squat (5.12b). The Forever War is more difficult for me physically and technically than any other route in Vedauwoo.

My favorite part of the route is the kick-over into the inversion which requires a head smear off the flake—pretty damn offwidth!


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