America’s Independence Day

The weather has been amazing the last week and a half around Bozeman. It hasn’t rained in a week and the warm weather is finally getting rid of some of the snow still left from our cold spring and huge amounts of snowfall from the winter. With All the nice weather its been hard not to go outside and do anything. I had planned to go on a road trip down to Maple Canyon with Dave Reuss, but due to unfortunate injury, Dave had to back out. Kelsey Sather told me that she would be heading down to Ten Sleep for a while and that I could tag along. Unfortunately I was planning on leaving earlier than them and had to drive my own car down.

This is where things get interesting. I didn’t have Kelsey’s phone number until the day we were supposed to leave and crazy enough we both had our phones off at alternating times so I packed my car quickly to escape the incoming thunderstorm sunday afternoon and headed down by myself, confidant I would run into Kelsey or someone else I knew when I got there. In my haste I ended up forgetting several key Items I would not find out about ’till later: my 6 gallon water container, a lighter for my stove, and bug spray.

Despite this my fortunes were high arriving in Ten Sleep. As I was driving up the canyon towards the camping I happened to drive by someone who looked a lot like my friend Adam Fruh, then I drove past someone I didn’t know right away and then I drove past someone I knew instantly: Adam’s girlfriend, Rose Marks. I slowed down and at the next pull out I turned around to meet them. Adam and Rose and their friend Forest happily let me join up with them and lead me to another group of Bozemanites down for the Holiday at the top of the canyon. Sadly we didn’t meet up with Kelsey, but our group consisted of 11 people in all, I was overjoyed at my luck to meet up with Casey, Kyler, Ty, Andrew and Zana, Rose and Adam, Forest, Sam, and Eric. I knew about half of the people there, and the rest were just like the ones I already knew: some of the most fun and spontaneous people I know.

Being the 4th of July in Ten Sleep, if you go to the west side of the canyon to climb the mornings are pretty slow. The sun bakes the cliffs until about 2pm so there isn’t much point in getting up early. We all spent a nice morning in camp and tried to figure out where we could all go and climb hard (made more difficult by the amount of variety in our climbing from 5.11 to 5.13+ project level). In the end Adam made the decision to go to the French Cattle Ranch, an area known for its hard projects and beautiful orange and blue limestone. Wanting to conserve parking spaces and not really wanting to walk we pilled 9 people plus gear into “snowflake” Kyler’s white mini-van and drove a half mile to the parking lot where we exited one at a time so as not flip the van parked precariously halfway into a ditch just before the already full main pullout for the upper canyon climbs, knowing full well we looked like a circus bus with a mind boggling number of clowns inside.

After the very hot and humid approach we split ways to divide and conquer the sectors warm ups. As we spread out fortune shined on me again, and I meet Peder and Jessica working on Private Halfenheimer (14a). Peder gave me the beta on one of the projects Adam and I wanted to try, Sky Pilot (13d) which makes up the first half of Private Halfenheimer.

Adam and I warmed up on Tutu Man (5.9 +++/5.10d ?) a great crack corner climb on the left extreme of the Sector D’or et Bleu and then meet up with the rest of the crew at the Back 40 with its many long 5.11s. The Bozeman crew took over the wall and one of us was on every route at one point. We might be from small town but we make up for it by the number of people who show up to go climbing, Bozeman might start to challenge Boulder for dominance of the annoying out of stater’s soon but at least we know how to carpool and are friendly to other people… but I digress.

After a quick lunch we moved back over the Grasshopper and Shinto walls in full project mode. I put up the draws on Kielbasa (12c), my second onsight at that grade, for Kyler, Casey, Sam, and Eric to try. While Adam, Andrew and Forest worked on Pussytoes, a classic 12d and the easiest line at the D’or et Bleu Wall. After a short rest Adam and I started to work on Sky Pilot. Adam worked the bottom ground up with the beta I was given from Peder and got to the top of the crux on his best go. After watching Adam, I managed to snag the bottom crux first go only to fall one move higher, then proceeded to fall only one more time before I got to the start of the extension. I gave it one more go before my fingers had had enough, but I still only two hung the route, after making a very sloppy attempt at the bottom crux.

No one else managed to send either Pussytoes with its viscous starting boulder problem or Kielbasa with its unrelenting consistency (with two moderate rests in 70 feet). Rose managed to send Wyoming Flower Child (11d/12a) and also rip a sizable hole in her index finger on Center El Shinto (12a/b). When we were sufficiently all tuckered out we retired to a great 4th of July campfire complete with sparklers and fireworks, and I went to bed early even though the next day was going to be “restfull” I was developing a head cold gifted to me by one of the angel campers I had the week before at Spire.

The next day we went to the Psychoactive Wall and the Godfather Boulder. Again we conquered the wall but this time there was no one else in sight to stop us from running train on Suck the Nipple (5.11+), Gloom (5.11-), …. At the end of the day Sam took a picture of all of us as a group before he, Andrew, Zuzana, Eric, Ty, Casey, and Kyler left the canyon.

The next day Rose, Adam, Forest and me meet up with a friend we made at the campfire two nights previous Dustin, from New Paltz, NY, home of the ‘gunks, and headed out to the Valhalla wall to warm up and try Cocaine Rodeo (5.12a). We got to Cocaine Rodeo just before the sun moved over the cliffs and put everything into shade and it was still a little too hot for good climbing, but that didn’t deter Dustin. After getting the beta for the starting boulder problem, he took it to the top putting draws up, flashing his 2nd 5.12! Forest sent first go as well and that started the send train, where Adam and I took a lap to finish our warm up and Rose went last managed to send as well. Nice Job Team!

Next we took a tour of all the cliffs between Valhalla and D’Or Et Bleu. Supperatic was packed when we passed and we braised for lots of people out at the French Cattle Ranch, but to our surprise there was only a few people at the Back 40 when we got there. So Rose, Forest and Dustin started to work on Center El Shinto (12a/b), while Adam and I went to try and finish up Sky Pilot.

On my first attempt I reached the end of the boulder problem and fell making the match move before the 4th clip (of 8). Adam fell just lower going for the big reach move using the flagging beta he came up with the first day. Then I gave it my 2nd and what we thought was going to be my best attempt before the stress on your fingers became too much. I got through the boulder problem and then to the first jug without too much trouble, but I hadn’t accounted for how much the route builds in difficulty if not for pump. I barely, and I mean I thought I was going to fall going to the stance just before the last bouldery section. Then I made it to the last move and for some reason messed my foot placement and didn’t have the strength left to readjust and fell going for the clipping hold at the chains. Duh!

So after a few minutes hanging around depumping, I redid the move and then came down. On his 2nd go for the day Adam looked much smoother than first try but couldn’t decide on which way to do the last move of the crux and fell after wasting to much time at that spot. I wasn’t ready to try again so we walked over to see how everyone else was doing on Center El Shinto. Rose had made a good attempt and fell close to the chains but Dustin had managed to do the same thing I did and fell after clipping the last bolt. Forest was pretty much done and decided to top rope the line to clean it. They then followed us back over for Adam and my last attempt and to try TuTu Man. my 3rd go was crap, mentally I wasn’t ready to try it again and give it my all. So I lowered down, gave my self a pep-talk, re-chalked, and then sent!!! Its always great to send a project, the relief, and the joy you feel are amazing. This time I realized how similar it felt to a lot of other projects; needless to say I’ve been smiling since then.

Adam’s last go was his best as well. he made it through the crux to the move to clip the 4th draw and then fell. He immediately got back on and took it almost to the top before unexpectedly having a foot pop at the 2nd to last move. I’m sure if he was able to put one more day of tries into it he will send as well. Unfortunately both Rose and Forest had to work the next day back in Bozeman and it was getting late in the day.

When I returned back to camp, I was approached by a short but energetic old man, who introduced himself as Charley K. Charley is one of the biggest bolters at Ten Sleep, having established moderates (5.12 – and under) since 1998! After talking for a bit about bears on the old road and where we had climbed I had to thank him for all the work he’s done and the money he’s donated to the canyon in the form of bolts and hangers. If you ever see an eccentric older guy (older to me I should say) try to thank him for his work and let him know your honest opinion of his routes, he loves it, especially if you’re as psyched on them as he is!

In other news the great weather has let me head out a bunch with various people, here are a few photos of the last two weeks climbing around Bozeman. Thanks for reading as always, hope you enjoy the pictures.

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