Photo courtesy of Drew Smith

Photo Courtesy of Steven Herbert

Josie McKee

Hometown: Lander, WY

Activities: Rock Climbing, Bigwall, Alpine Climbing




Josie’s love for climbing began with the intense fear she felt on day one, as a kid in the gym. Gradually this fear morphed to intrigue (and still sometimes fear) of big walls and wild places. Her drive for climbing large routes began in Yosemite, where she lived and worked on the Yosemite Search & Rescue team. Climbing in “The Valley”, Josie developed the skills for Patagonian spires, Himalayan expeditions, first ascents and speed records. She recently moved to Lander, Wyoming to challenge herself on steep limestone and explore the peaks of the Wind River Range. She works as the Executive Director of the Central Wyoming Climbers’ Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports climbing in the Lander area and the International Climbers’ Festival. She also coaches mental skills and leads rescue trainings for climbers.

Climbing Resume:

  • Rope solo “The Nose” of El Capitan, VI 5.9 C2, in one day (23.5 hrs)
  • The “Tour de Ditch”, 7 grade V and VI Yosemite bigwalls in 7 days.
  • “The Afanassieff”, 5000’ 30° 6a+, Cerro Chalten (Fitz Roy), Argentina
  • “Hook, Line & Sinker”, V 5.12, Mt Hooker, WY
  • First ascents in 5 countries, up to 5.12

Adventure Resume:

  • Tioga “Triathlon” (solo adventure): Biked from Tuolumne meadows to Saddlebag lake (10 miles) over Tioga Pass, climbed up the North Ridge and down the West Ridge of Mt Conness (12,589’), swam saddlebag lake (1.5 miles), biked back to Tuolumne: 11 hrs.
  • Surfing, not a specific quantifiable accomplishment, just finding the flow in perfectly executing each turn down a glassy wave!

Photo Courtesy of Drew Smith

How to Overcome Climbing Fears

Professional athletes, guides, and panelists shared their strategies and insight in workshops and discussions. We compiled the best tips so you can improve your mental game too.

Written by Josie McKee


Photo Courtesy of Drew Smith

Photo Courtesy of JP Melville

Favorite Gear Picks

Edelweiss Performance Unicore 9.2mm, 70M

"Most supple rope on the market that actually lasts! Often I feel like you have to choose one or the other. This thing is a sporty workhorse."

Nalgene Kitchen Storage Food Containers, 16 oz. 

"I take this thing out with me everywhere from cragging to expeditions. It's completely leak proof, so you can even put soup in it. The wide-mouth design makes it easy to eat out of. In the winter I just glue closed cell foam to the outside to make it insulated. Sounds funny to love a piece of "tupperware" so much, but I hate bars and I like saving real food for when I need energy the most."

Grivel Mountain Runner Comp 5L

"I love to do long runs and this vest has everything you need for water and snacks, plus it's comfortable."

Sterling HollowBlock2 13.5"

"As far as prussiks go you can use anything, however the HollowBlock2 is simply the best. It lays flat, slides easier, and catches better. I prefer it to any other prussik material. I have it on my glacier travel kit, as well as to rappel with."

Edelweiss Sloop Footstep

"When big walling and jumaring you want the least amount of stuff on your harness as possible, but you also want it to be easy to use and durable.
I love the Sloop Footstep because they're light and easy, but quick to adjust. Jumar away!"