Learning to Fly

World-renowned climber Steph Davis will be sharing her story of transformation at Back of Beyond Books 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 9.

Her book “Learning to Fly” documents the change in her life after her former husband and climbing partner, Dean Potter, made a controversial climb on Delicate Arch in Arches National Park in 2006.

In quick succession the two lost income-providing sponsors and then their marriage.

“When my marriage and my career unraveled simultaneously, I found myself slipping into a downward spiral of anxiety, fear and loss of faith as my world fell apart around me,” Davis said.

Davis then chose to do the one thing a climber avoids: she learned how to fall.

“Learning to Fly” is a memoir about adventure, transformation, fear, love, letting go and learning how to fly.

“It’s not so surprising that on the day of my fifth wedding anniversary I would be crouched in the open door of an airplane, thirteen thousand feet above the Colorado plains, about to jump out. That coincidence of timing really wasn’t,” Davis wrote.

Davis’ world revolved around climbing. Years earlier she dropped out of law school to live in a truck with her dog and migrated from one climbing area to another.

“I became a professional climber and eventually married my longtime climbing partner,” she said. “It was a life of pure adventure, and nothing about it was safe.”

Davis was the first person to BASE climb the north face of Castleton Tower, also known as Castle Rock in Castle Valley outside of Moab. She was the first woman to summit Torre Egger in Patagonia, and the first person to climb it in a day.

Climbing changed when she no longer climbed with her husband.

“Climbing became an intensely solo and bizarrely emotionless experience, without a rope and without a partner, a practice of ultimate self reliance with death consequence,” she said. “In an effort to feel something, I plunged into free fall, learning to skydive from airplanes.”

Davis is now an avid BASE jumper and wingsuit pilot. She is one of just a few people in the world, and the only woman, to be combining free soloing (climbing without ropes) with BASE jumping (skydiving from a cliff), and has made a specialty of climbing and jumping desert towers in the Utah desert.

She was the first person to fly a wingsuit from the Long’s Peak Diamond.

Davis said that as she learned to skydive, she discovered a new community of personalities and immersed herself in wingsuit flight and base jumping.

“I grew from a beginner skydiver to a competent base jumper, rediscovered my joy in climbing and unexpectedly found new love – learning once again that letting go is the meaning of life,” Davis said.