Having been the first woman to make the climb as a guest in 1983, I had been exposed to publicity, although all that attention wasn't something I really liked. Consequently, when I was voted in as the first woman member in 1997, I was better prepared to deal with the media. There was a lot of attention.
I had been climbing continuously except for two years, each time after one of my sons was born. I was pretty familiar with all of the people and the club traditions. I think I was a good fit and I think the Club members felt so also. Many of them commented on this and congratulated me, saying they were pleased to add a woman who fit well into the Club's culture. I was a little surprised by the reactions I got from the wives and daughters of some of the members. They congratulated me and thanked me for breaking the all-male tradition without breaking the club's spirit and culture. Several of them told me "We knew someone would have to do it, and we are glad it was you. You've really fit in."
By that time two other women had climbed as guests, Peggy Parr and Cindy Bowles, and attitudes had changed. Elsewhere, a lot of women who were trying to break into all-male circles were quite aggressive, very pushy. I think the club dreaded that and the members were happy to gradually work me into the mix over time.
There was a fair amount of snow that year, but nothing too burdensome. Ed Kirches was close behind me on the second day as I was leading the climbers. Ed kept telling me to "Slow down, slow down," so I guess my pace was a bit too ambitious.
We had a tradition of playing games on the summit to pass the time and I enjoyed them. Especially "Hearts," which can be a game of ruthlessness and spite. I loved beating the others, particularly Phil Pierce and Mike Reeder, who were such great sports.
Of course, one of the great highlights was the fireworks show. By then, the club had traded out the old school business of lighting the shells by hand and was using a electrical system where a single person sets off the fireworks. I got to be the "lighter" and set off all of the fireworks shells! Sixty-shells, welcome in the New Year -- that's quite a thrill.