Friday, September 11, 2009

Ten Sleep

Lately, I've had no interest in my usual Summer routine of going to Rifle every weekend, and obsessing over projects. With an entire world to explore, this seems extremely stale, and a bit pathetic. So this Summer, I've made a huge effort to visit new areas. Sometimes I'm disappointed by what I find, but most of the time I am pleasantly surprised.
For Labor Day Weekend, I ventured up to Wyoming and climbed at Ten Sleep. As always, I was impressed with the state's natural beauty, and the huge stretches of untouched land. Located about 60 miles west of Buffalo, Ten Sleep Canyon runs East to West with huge, tan limestone walls forming it's North and South rims. The climbing is reminiscent of Shelf Road, but the rock quality, movement and setting are all easily twice as good. Be prepared for slabs, and gently overhanging walls, peppered with very small pockets, sharp edges and highly technical movement.
Matt Kelly on Happiness is Slavery- 12bRoxanne Raymundo on EKV(Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle)- 12c

Although we only had three days, and only visited a handful of areas in the canyon, here's what we concluded...

1. On sunny days, it's difficult to warmup/climb on the South facing walls before noon. The only place we found was a small corner of the Super Erratic area.

2. Since it's such a large area, it's important to plan out what routes you want to try and what areas you want to go to.

3. It's easy to get lost on the approaches.

4. It's easy to get lost trying to find the right parking area. The guidebook fails to mention mileage or landmarks, and most of the area pictures are taken from the old road, not Highway 16, which leads to confusion.

5. Although the guidebook's quality system is helpful in determining what routes to try, sometimes it's better to simply climb on what looks good.

6. Bring finger tape!

If you come to Ten Sleep, be prepared to get lost and be confused. This is partly because it is such a huge area, and partly because the guide book is poorly written. If you are unsure about something, save yourself an hour of chaos and talk to somebody- you'll be glad you did. Here are some things the guide book failed to mention.

Camping can be found along the old, dirt road that parallels Highway 16. We stayed at the bottom of the canyon, by the river on our first night, but woke up and discovered that our site was surrounded by poison ivy and broken glass. The best camping we found was at the top of the canyon. There is NO running water, garbage pickup or bathroom facilities in the canyon.

The town of Ten Sleep is about 15 minutes west on highway 16 from the bottom of the canyon. It has NO grocery store, but offers a gas station/convenience store(their version of a grocery store), two bars(where you can purchase Bud or Coors beer to go), and houses around 400 people.

In general, Ten Sleep is a great place to climb- the routes are fun, the camping is free, and the area is beautiful. Just be aware that climbing in Ten Sleep is only half the experience.

Monday, August 24, 2009


In late July, I went home for a week to help my parents move and attend a wedding. While I was home I also caught up with some old friends, and did a little climbing at a "new" area called Equinox.
Most of the crag is represented in this picture.

Although I'm not sure about the story behind the crag's name, this little area, located near Mt. Vernon, is a great Summer sport climbing area that houses about 30 routes between 5.9 and 5.13+. Metamorphic in nature, the rock offers a sustained style of climbing with lots of square cut edges, and features that appear right where you need them. Enough with the description, here are some picutres(sorry about the date stamp- I took these with my parents' camera).

Paul Tomilson on a really nice 12+. Sorry, don't remember the name of the climb.

Jeff Parmenter on Baby on Board-13b. This is a super nice climb with increasingly diffcult moves to a very sharp and crimpy finish. Wish I had more time to finish. Oh well, I guess I will have to go back someday...

Here's Ben Gilkeson on Skip it or Clip it- 12c. This was probably the prettiest climb at the Equinox. This 80foot route goes up the cleanest part of the wall following a sequence of utterly perfect crimps and features. Really wish I had gotten on this thing!
Here's another picture of Ben on the same climb. Are those Dockers you are wearing?

Here's me on The Groove Tube Full-13a. Start with a great 12b, but before cutting right to the anchors, keep going up, and bust left around the arete, and over final roof. Like everything else at Equinox, I was really impressed with the quality of this line. So much fun!
Another picture of the same route.
Moving left around the arete. The next move is the crux, followed by a really engaging sequence to the top.

So that's Equinox. Thanks a bunch to Ben, Paul, Erich, Jeff, and Jake for showing me around. You guys are great!

Monday, July 13, 2009

4th of July Adventures

I hate the 4th of July. Ever since I hurt myself with a sparkler when I was 10, the holiday has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Not to mention the crazy, drunk, justified pyromaniacs that run around blowing up everything in the name of freedom. It feels like the entire nation's IQ drops about 30 points for a day, which makes me want to hide under the bed like all the dogs and cats until it's over. Being human, I chose to hide in Clear Creek instead. Lee and I headed to a boulder I recently "discovered", and climbed some virgin rock. We started with a really nice V3 that starts on a left facing feature, heads to a pocket and then ends up a high but easy rail. We didn't name any of this stuff- we are too lazy. We'll take suggestions...
Then we moved to a line to the right, and after a couple of tries figuring out the start, established a really amazing v4/5 highball. It starts on a big obvious jug, moves to a big sloper that juts out from the wall and follows a large lieback up and right to the top. Amazing!!!
We spent the rest of the day flailing on a low start to the above problem. It involves powerful liebacking, no feet, and a hard crimp move that brings you to the sloper of the V4. I will definitely be returning to finish this up in the Fall.
Now for the juicy stuff. Just to the right of the V4, there is a very hard project- possibly V14 or harder. A bulge, with perfect crimps, minimal feet and a nice landing. Around the corner are 2 or 3 more short(2-5 moves), but very hard problems on sculpted pinches and edges. I know I should have gotten some photos. You'll just have to take my word, these things look cool. Any takers???

I am constantly amazed that boulders like this are still being "discovered". Just when you think the Front Range is tapped, another little gem gets unearthed and the psyche continues. AMEN!

Here's a couple of abstract images of the Boulder fireworks show.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Everything But Climbing In Maple

Last week Lee and I went to Maple for a 9 day trip. For the most part we had great weather. Unfortunately, Lee's neck was severely tweaked for 4 days, which destroyed the morale during the middle of the trip.
Although she could barely look down, and sneezing nearly brought her to tears, she selflessly did the 25 minute hike to the Pipe Dream and belayed me. She eventually found a way to cope with the pain...
On our rest days we hiked to the top of the Pipe Dream and enjoyed the wildlife...
the view
and may have seen the future of Maple Canyon climbing.
This cave is in the right fork, about 100 feet off the ground. From our perspective, it looks about twice as big as the Pipe Dream. For some reason, Lee was terrified by the formation.
Actually, a grasshopper caught her off gaurd.

On another rest day, we checked out the Morman Miracle Pageant in Manti, Utah. Basically, the LDS puts on a huge, week-long theater production depicting the story of the Book of Morman.
They set up about 4000 folding chairs on the temple lawn...
get all the actors in costume by 8pm so they can walk around an interact with the crowd...
and start the show at 9:30pm...
As you can see, the production involves hundreds of actors. It's actually quite entertaining, but I have to admit that I was totally confused by the story. It was hard to keep track of all the charachters, feuding tribes and what point within 2500BC-1830Ad they existed.

Of course, the event had it's critics. This guy is a christian, who was telling all the Mormans that they were going to hell. Needless to say, he had some people worked up, but for the most part, they politely debated with him until the show started.
Sorry there aren't more climbing pictures, but honestly, the nonclimbing activities were way more interesting on this trip. Oh yeah, I sent the Wyoming Sheep Shagger and Lee did her first 12b within 24 hours on our last day of the trip. Gotta love the high pressure, last minute send. It's always sweeter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm Back!

Danny Robertson on Achilles

To anyone still looking at this blog...

I haven't been feeling very creative, or motivated lately. However, I am going to start making an effort to update my blog, with a little something every week.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Sinks Canyon. I love that place. Lander is nice, the camping is free, the canyon is beautiful, and the climbing is damn fun. Lots of steep, technical routes with amazing pockets(some more natural than others) and edges right where you need them. I will definitely be going back there this Summer. I will try to post some pictures later.

Last weekend, I went to Rifle. Love that place too. This year will be my 9th season! My relationship with the canyon has changed a lot since I first moved to Boulder in 2002. Blinding obsession has been replaced with a mature, warm, calm passion for the canyon. Thankfully, new routes are going up all the time. Last weekend, I did a new route that Danny Robertson put up last Summer called Achilles. Originally rated 14a, this route follows the lip of a huge overhang on the opposite side of the canyon from the Arsenal. The route follows a stunning line, and features lots of steep climbing, a bit of traversing, and a very cool arete finish. After fumbling on it for a few days, I gleaned some very useful beta from Steve Hong, that allowed me to put it all together. Steve Hong also redpointed the route just before me. Nice work!!!

Danny Robertson on Achilles

After thinking about it and reading the latest TNB article my honest opinion is that this route is a soft 13d. Not nearly as soft as The Bride of Frankenstein, but definitely easier than Living In Fear, or Simply Read. Either way, it's a super fun route, and a great addition to Rifle. Thanks for all your hard work Danny!

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