This past weekend I went to Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming with my friend Duncan. It has been 3 months since I have been sport climbing and to boot, Duncan and I had never done sport climbing together before. The trip started out with a traditional brewery stop for dinner. Oh yeah, by the way – that’s definitely been a tradition on the way to and from the crag. Our goal is to stop at a different brewery each time.
Due to this delicious tasting beverage, my partner and I did not leave Fort Collins until 8:30 p.m. Yeah – a 6 hour drive ahead of us put us in Ten Sleep Canyon around 2:30 in the morning. I cannot say I was awake for much of the drive. Kudos to Duncan for staying up, driving through the night, and being an awesome driver without a faithful co-pilot. I’ll do better next time. I swear! Until then, you win the weekend warrior award on this one. Once we finally set up our tents and crawled into a horizontal position, the morning greeted us almost immediately. When I exited my tent, I was ecstatic to see this in front of me:
After making breakfast and preparing for the day, we got a true sport climber start when we hit the trail: 11 a.m. The hiking in Ten Sleep is one of the most beautiful areas I have been to. The hillsides were aflame with various colours and aromas and the soft trail wound and unwound itself in and out of switchbacks and underneath a canopy of luscious trees.
When we started climbing on Saturday, the cloud began to get dark. The sky began to spit at us as we sat at the base of our first climb, debating whether to go on or not. Ultimately, we decided the splotchy parts of blue sky would prevail over the meandering dull gray clouds. The first climb we did looked like it had a gnarly overhang move and was dubbed Giddyup Grasshopper, 5.10c, 60 feet. Oof, was it sharp. I had forgotten what sport climbing was like on my fingertips, especially sharp limestone. To the right of Giddyup was our next choice: Dust, Wind, Dude, 5.11a, 75 feet. Duncan hopped up to lead it and proclaimed that it was a lot of fun. I readied myself to clean the route and prepared myself for another hard overhanging move.
I wasn’t even 5 moves into the climb and Duncan called out my name, “Hey Shay, you should uhh… you know, expedite the process.” I looked at him; short of me growing wings and flying my way to the top, there was no way I could possibly go quicker. He knew this but as we looked at the clouds, Zeus let us know of his might and anger. The minute I reached the ground, Duncan pulled the rope, wrapped the rope bag around it and all of Zeus’ kingdom let loose. Lightening was so close it didn’t even look like a strike, just a bright flash surrounding the mountain side. Our dogs freaked out as thunder followed not milliseconds behind the succession of bright lights. Our timing off of the wall couldn’t have been more perfect. From there, we booked it. Hail and sharp rain chased us down the trail, causing us to slip in the mud, break for a few seconds where the trail seemed dry, and yell at our furry companions to keep going.
We made it to the car, loaded up the animals, threw in our packs, and opened some PBRs. Well, the first thing Duncan did was open a PBR while I quickly unloaded my pack to make sure my camera was still in good standing with being dry. A Canadian woman knocked on our window and asked us if we had seen 4 women up at the base of the wall. We told her no and she informed us Ten Sleep had a tornado warning on broadcast. Duncan’s first question: “The bars are still open right?” Laughing, she quickly nodded.
By that time, the storm had cleared up and we decided to go back to the wall with our new found friends who were also from Fort Collins.
This climb is probably one of my favourite 12b routes I’ve ever done. It’s slightly overhung the entire way and requires endurance through a huge pump. Needless to say, by this time, my fingers were toast. The rough limestone had literally gobbled up the skin on my fingers, munched it to nothingness, and spit it back out for me to try to reuse at will. To boot, we had also entered the land of hard.
Duncan decided he wanted to lead Walk the Dog, 12b, to which I told him I would clean for him. I have never had a reason to have a “Never To Do Again” list, but after the unpleasant and painful moves on Walk the Dog, the list was begun. I would go as far to describe the climb as heinously detestable. Duncan shared these sentiments. Our fingers and the crispy, cool air pulled us down off the wall and back to the lake. Besides, I wanted to see if there was a chance of a sunrise for some picture taking opportunities.
Realizing we had both come unprepared for sub 40 degree weather, we built a fire, fixed dinner, and shared stories with Sam and Ethan that caused the still woods to stir with our laughter.
The next day (after waking up freezing), we went to the Circus Wall area. I led a super heady 10b while Duncan led a gorgeous 12a that wasn’t listed in the book. Congratulations to Duncan for onsighting his first 12 ever! Honestly, I thought the 12a was less of a head game than the 10b. The 12a is on my list of favourite 12s ever, even though it regurgitated my finger pads. Maybe I should keep up with a moderate amount of sport climbing practice so I don’t get so worked on sharp rock in the future.
What’s in the future?
In a few hours I will leave to go camp in Breckenridge, Colorado to participate in an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament called Lungbuster. My furry child even gets to tag along, which is one of her favourite things to do. She has learned she can trot her little dog frisbee over to anyone on the field and they will pretty much always throw it for her. As far as my ability is concerned, I am thinkin’ I am in pretty good shape for running at that altitude; so hopefully I won’t bust-a-lung. However, the lady situation is most likely savage again. What’s a tournament without being savage?!
For the weekend of July 4th, I have a few options. I could go to ND and climb in Spearfish Canyon, go back to Ten Sleep Canyon with a few people from Boulder and climb with a guy named Jesse from OR and meet one of my favourite photographers Elodie Saracco, go to another UF Tournament in Washington state called Potlach, or just loose myself backpacking through the mountains of Colorado. Such hard decisions to make. Although, Ten Sleep is incredibly enticing…
© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/