Dagny and the Third

Bill and I have nine grandkids. Not surprisingly, we think each one is special. But even more interesting is that each one is unique. Even within families, each child has their own personalities, their own interests, attributes that make them one-of-a-kind.

From the time Dagny Tess was maybe 4 or 5 years old, for example, when other children her age were saying they wanted to be princesses or superheroes when they grew up, she was saying she wanted to be an entomologist – someone who studies insects. That made her kindergarten teachers raise their eyebrows.

Maybe because she’s third-born, she has always been energetic and fearless. She also has always been a climber. Several years ago when Bill and I were watching the kids, Dagny fell from the top of the treehouse as she attempted to grab hold of the fireman’s pole upon which she planned on sliding down. Thankfully, she was unhurt.

A couple of years ago, her parents began taking her to a local climbing gym. It didn’t take long before she was scurrying to the top with abandon, easily keeping up with her Uncle Allen who had climbed before. The obvious next step was climbing lessons, something she’s been taking for several months now.

I mentioned all of this to a friend a few months back, a friend whose husband did technical climbing. I bet Scott would take her to the Third Flatiron in Boulder to climb, my friend said. It sounds like something she could do.

This led to that, and about a week ago, Dagny, age 11, climbed the Third Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado…..

Dagny climbed the Third Flatiron, which is the one in the background on the far left.

Did I mention that she’s 11?

The climb took somewhere in the neighborhood of six or seven hours. It involved belaying and pitches and ropes and harnesses and all sorts of things that are part of technical climbing. But mostly, it took an amazing amount of sheer bravery.

She climbed alongside two men – Scott and Mark — with 40 years of combined climbing experience, and her Uncle Allen. She also climbed alongside other groups of climbers, folks who became comrades-in-arms as they made their way up the mountain. Not surprisingly, that girl we refer to as Delightful Dagny delighted the folks she met as they climbed. There were some double-takes and high fives as they got to know Miss D.


Here is what Scott had to say about Dagny in a follow-up email….

I’m still enjoying the post–Third Flatiron glow. That climb is always a treat, Allen was an excellent climbing team member, and Dagny was simply awesome. What a cool, calm, and collected person. When she reached the first belay stance after focusing completely on her climbing, she got clipped into the anchor, turned around, looked over the trees more than 400 feet straight down, broke into a grin and said, “Whoa! That’s so creepy!” And when the wind blew so hard on the last rappel and the ropes tangled enough to stop her 35 feet above the ground for a few minutes while Mark got them sorted out, what was her response? “Wow, there is the most interesting spider on the rock!”……Mark and I agreed after that it was the perfect way to spend the day. In fact, last Sunday is one of my top ten most memorable climbing days.

Yes, you read that correctly. As she rapelled down from the top of the Third, her rope jammed. As she dangled 35 to 40 feet in the air (at one point, having to climb up the rope using her arm strength), rather than panicking, she spent the time observing a spider.

When I spoke to her the next day, she admitted that she’d had a few nerves, particularly when she got to the first pitch and looked down. Did you want to turn around, I asked her. Nope, not a bit, she answered firmly.

Here are a couple videos in which she documents her experience. The first is at the top of the Flatiron. The second is after the group had rappelled down and she had accomplished this amazing feat.



I don’t know what to say about this remarkable girl. One thing I know is that as she faces obstacles in her life, she will be able to look back at this accomplishment and say, “I climbed the Third Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado, when I was 11 years old. If I could do that, I’m pretty sure I can do just about anything.”

And she would be right.

This post linked to Grand Social.

12 thoughts on “Dagny and the Third

  1. Gosh…what an awesome experience for her and what an awesome young woman. She will have this experience to look back on for the rest of her life. I love the email. Congrats to Dagny!

  2. Dagny is so fun and it is pretty cool to have an Uncle who will try anything and then document the experience. Special thanks to Mark and Scott for making the climb possible.

  3. There is nothing like grandchildren they are all unique and special. We have 8 grand and two great grand. I remark often how these babies can be raised in the same family and each is so different.

  4. I love seeing girls being adventurous and being their age – not being old before their time or behaving like princesses – she has a great future ahead of her I’m sure.

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