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.