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Summer exploration: climbing Vedauwoo

Rachel Bower, 90th Force Support Squadron Aquatics Center lifeguard recreation assistant, ties a figure-8 knot prior to climbing in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, June 14, 2015. Bower was part of a rock climbing trip hosted by F.E.Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Rachel Bower, 90th Force Support Squadron Aquatics Center lifeguard recreational assistant, ties a figure-8 knot prior to climbing in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyo., June 14, 2015. Bower was part of a rock climbing trip hosted by F.E.Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Rachel Bower, 90th Force Support Squadron Aquatics Center lifeguard recreation assistant, climbs the Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, June 14, 2015. Bower was part of a rock climbing trip hosted by F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Rachel Bower, 90th Force Support Squadron Aquatics Center lifeguard recreational assistant, climbs Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyo., June 14, 2015. Bower was part of a rock climbing trip hosted by F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Senior Airman Roman Chavez, 90th Munitions Squadron special weapons technician, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., climbs the Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, June 14, 2015. Fall Wall juts 60 feet in the air, and is a popular rock climbing location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Senior Airman Roman Chavez, 90th Munitions Squadron special weapons technician, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., climbs Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyo., June 14, 2015. Fall Wall juts 60 feet in the air, and is a popular rock climbing location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Senior Airman Roman Chavez, 90th Munitions Squadron special weapons technician, climbs the Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, June 14, 2015. Chavez accompanied other climbers in a group organized by F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Senior Airman Roman Chavez, 90th Munitions Squadron special weapons technician, climbs Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyo., June 14, 2015. Chavez accompanied other climbers in a group organized by F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Cheyenne Homkes, a martial arts instructor in Cheyenne, Wyo., climbs the Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of the Medicine Bow National Forest, June 14, 2015. F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation hosted the rock climbing trip, and they host many other outdoor trips throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Cheyenne Homkes, a martial arts instructor in Cheyenne, Wyo., climbs Fall Wall in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of the Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyo., June 14, 2015. F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s Outdoor Recreation hosted the rock climbing trip, and they host many other outdoor trips throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

A group of climbers on an F.E. Warren Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation trip pose for a photo in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyo., June 14, 2015. For all the participants, this was their first time rock climbing outdoors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

A group of climbers on an F.E. Warren Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation trip pose for a photo in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyo., June 14, 2015. For all the participants, this was their first time rock climbing outdoors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Editor's note: This feature is the first of an ongoing series to highlight various activities Airmen can explore in the local area.

The 90th Missile Wing's Outdoor Recreation office hosted a trip for first-time climbers at the Vedauwoo Recreation Area of Medicine Bow National Forest, a popular climbing site 40 minutes west of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., June 14, 2015. The trip showcased one of many opportunities Airmen have to explore their local surroundings.

After a 10-minute hike that involved scrambling over large boulders, the climbers approached the rock formation known as Fall Wall, a daunting 60-foot cliff formation.

"It looks like it's going to be a fun challenge," said Senior Airman Roman Chavez, 90th Munitions Squadron special weapons technician, staring eagerly at the obstacle he was about to climb.

Three new climbers faced the cliff, prepared to do something they had not done before.

"I'm really excited, I've never experienced outdoor climbing before," said Rachel Bower, 90th Force Support Squadron Aquatics Center lifeguard recreational assistant and water safety instructor. "This one looks very difficult, I'm pumped. I'm ready for it."

An experienced instructor led the group through the proper climbing procedures and encouraged them all the way.

"I'll get people, they'll come in, and they'll immediately say, I can't do that," said Keith Henderson, climbing guide, describing a common reaction for new climbers.

Henderson has more than 12 years of climbing experience and is on his second season of leading and guiding rock climbing trips in Southeastern Wyo.

Henderson said, new climbers will often tell themselves that they can't do it, but with some encouragement and guidance on some moves to make while on the wall, they will top out the climb before they know it. He encourages any climbers with trepidation to "give it a shot."

"It's a sense of relief," Henderson said. "[Climbers] start off with a challenge that [they] don't think [they] can do. And they challenge themselves on the next harder climb, and people go away with a great sense of satisfaction."

For many, climbing is a stress reliever, he said. When an individual is climbing and they find themselves clinging on a small hold 80 feet in the air their only focus is on accomplishing that climb, at that moment nothing else matters.

All the participants accomplished the climb to the top and each expressed a sense of relief and accomplishment.

There are numerous granite rock formations scattered across the Vedauwoo landscape offering new challenges beckoning to be explored by climbers. 

"It's away from the city, away from technology, and it's beautiful, it's captivating," Bower said. "That's why I love the outdoors. I'm trying everything I can this summer, and this was one of the things on my list."

Vedauwoo is located west of Cheyenne on Interstate 80, accessible via exit 329.
For more information on organizing a rock climbing trip to Vedauwoo, contact Outdoor Recreation at 307-773-2988.