OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_0452 DSC_0363 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHoly Cow is there a lot to update. About a week and a half has passed and so have five climbing destinations, countless burritos, immeasurable highway miles, frustration with guidebooks and roadmaps, sore fingers, open wounds and of course laughs and all around good times.
I suppose last we were in Louisville, headed towards Missouri. Well Missouri was great, we were taken out to sushi by Chris’s parents, spent two nights in a bed. An hour playing video games and a whole day bouldering on the wonderfully textured sandstone of Horseshoe canyon in Arkansas. By the end of the day we were totally worked with a tally of climbs ranging from easy v1-(a-supposed-but-very-soft)v6. (For those still learning the lingo, the v-scale designates bouldering ratings to give an idea of difficulty the scale goes all the way up to v-16 so in the scheme of things v6 is pretty moderate. After Arkansas bouldering and a soft bed, we were excited to be back on the road gunning it for none other than… Rock City, Kansas.
Hold your disbelief, right in the middle of America’s flattest, fattest, corniest and dullest state sit about fifty deer-turd shaped boulders, with some pretty good climbing. So after about four hours there we headed to our home away from home, Wal-Mart in Salina, Kansas. As it turns out, other than offering every modern convenience that materialism can desire Wal-Mart also offers great free camping. Fortunately we were only there one night and soon we were off to Wyoming. To go to the rock paradise of Vedauwoo.
Vedauwoo, is the promised land for a style of climbing known as off-width. A style known for pain, grimacing, bruises, blood, torn clothing, and lots of grunting. For reasons unknown I have always been attracted to this style of climbing, or so I thought. So was initially very excited when we pulled into the parking lot. We immediately headed to the crags, and first climb found a forgotten camalot, which I immediately added to my rack. Sweet snag and awesome start. Then we headed to the next climb. This one an off-width. It was my turn to lead the pitch so I started up. About fifteen minutes later I stood on top feeling like I was gonna puke, and watching with fascination as my skinned knees trickled a little blood. I belayed Matt up and we both agreed, climbing off-width is fun in the way being in a cage match with Mike Tyson and an angry grizzly bear is fun. But we had several days in Vedawoo so we decided to give another one a go the next day. I think the best way to sum this one up is by simply saying that when down safe and sound we went back to the car, got out the crash pad, put away the rack, napped and decided to go bouldering for the next few days. While very fun, the rock at Vedawoo is extremely sharp and after a day of bouldering our fingers felt as though we’d put them through a pencil sharpener. It was time for somewhere new.
So without further delay we headed to Ten Sleep Canyon. A town of 300 sure knows how to through a great 4th of July bash. With a hilarious mix of Cowboys and Climbers, Tensleep closed off its streets to host a dance party in which everyone from 80-8 and urban plastic-pulling climbers to good-ol’-boy cowboys got down to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson covers. The next day we were up early and headed to the limestone sport climbing. It was INCREDIBLE! Completely vertical, really delicate, thoughtful climbing on beautiful stone. I climbed harder than I had ever even previously attempted and did it very successfully. It was great, and we thoroughly tired ourselves out to head to our next destination, Devil’s Tower.
We had been told to arrive to Devil’s Tower fresh and relaxed, advice we decided to ignore and arrived tired, sore, and with much less skin than we started with. We got to Devil’s Tower around 2 started a route called Durrance at 4, and soon decided to bail. Weather was approaching and the climb was not as good as the 50 classics of North American Mountaineering would have you believe. We made some friends on route shared their camping beta and slept like rocks through the torrential storm. In the morning we were up to have another go. Going on almost 2 weeks of climbing every day our bodies were SORE. But we decided to hop on a routed that would have been a challenge even fresh. Well, challenge it was. Carol’s Crack one of the most aesthetic lines on one of the most aesthetic climbing areas in the world was really difficult. And though we got to te top of the hard pitch, the next two pitches proved to be more dangerous with loose rock and difficult protection. So though it meant no summit, we decided to bail. In the words of anonymous, “live to fight another day”.
We went to bed that night slightly cranky at how tired we were, but excited for the promised rest day. We woke up got in the car, headed to hot springs, called our families, and drove to Lander, Wyoming. Where I’m now sitting in a coffee shop preparing to head into the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range. Perhaps the most beautiful mountain range on earth. I’m completely stoked, we’ve got some incredible routes lined up. Including a traverse of the entire Cirque. Eleven Peaks, 19 Miles, and more vertical climbing than I can count on all my fingers and toes. Well so long for now. Updates to come once we’re out of the alpine.