Pamela Varco Onsights Lucille Offwidth

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Spot the line! Lucille takes on the gaping chimney and roof crack on Hassler’s Hatbox at Vedauwoo, Wyoming. Courtesy of George Bell/

Pamela Pack Varco has onsighted Lucille (5.12+) at Vedauwoo, Wyoming, making the first female ascent and likely fifth or sixth overall ascent of the legendary offwidth and squeeze chimney. Jay Anderson first led Lucille free in 1988 after years of effort; Craig Luebben did the second ascent and the first onsight.

Varco, who has been on an “extended honeymoon/offwidth odyssey for the last year and a half” with her husband, John Varco, said she had “decided to save Lucille for an onsight attempt due to its historic significance and the fact that I climbed my very first offwidth in Vedauwoo.”

In the last few years Pamela Varco has become perhaps the foremost female practitioner in the blue-collar world of offwidth cracks, despite injuries including a broken back and torn muscles (from offwidthing) that once kept her in bed for two months. In recent months she has led numerous 5.12 and harder offwidths, including Squat (5.12b), Go Spuds Go (5.12a/b), New World Order (5.12c), the Crack Whore (5.12b), Eight Ounces to Freedom (5.13a), and Spatial Relations (5.12c), which Varco called “by far the most technically difficult offwidth in Vedauwoo.”

How does Lucille compare? Varco said the route “seemed to suit me, but it was certainly the most physically demanding offwidth I have ever climbed.”

Date of Ascent: June 27, 2008

Sources: Pamela Pack Varco, John Varco,

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