I just got back from Ten Sleep Canyon for the 4th and not last time this season. This time I went down with Fletcher to show him the area and get some really good directions for the MSU Vertigo fall trip that is planned for next weekend. I had wanted this to be my last hard training road trip for September and it didn’t disappoint.
Fletcher and I left Friday afternoon and rolled in late that night. Surprisingly the upper campsites along the river were almost empty, just us and a group from Billings. I had planned on going to the Supperatic to try either the Hellion or The Incredible Horsecock. So we took our time slept in and slowly rolled out to the crag. When we got there we found Peder , Jessica, and their two dogs Berkeley and Maverick (also from Bozeman) warming up. We followed them over to Big Yellow Butterflies 11b and 10a on the right side of the wall. As they left to try their projects He Biggum 13d and Walk The Dawg 12c respectively, our attention got distracted by a route called Black Slabbath, just because of the name we had to try it even though it says 12+? in the guidebook. I managed to onsight it and Fletcher gave a good try with some refined beta but was bouted by a large reach in the crux. Both Peder and I think it’s closer to 12b but I could see it being 12c for a shorted person.
When Fletcher and I walked over to take a look at the Hellion and The Incredible Horsecock we saw a bright green fixed line running from the anchor through the draws – a no go… Peder informed us it was Andrew Burr’s while I quietly cursed pro climbers and photographers under my breath the aforementioned group slunked up the trail. While slowly getting my rope and shoes ready for an attempt at putting up the draws I overheard mutterings of being very hungover but the group seemed agreeable. As soon as he saw I was getting ready to attempt the Horsecock, Andrew asked if they were in our way and started putting on his ascending gear. Sooner than I was fully ready he was already halfway up the route and ready to take pictures. As I picked my way through the opening moves the rest of the Black Diamond crew started up the Hellion and Andrew started taking pictures like a mad man. He would turn towards me and then back to the guy on the Hellion snapping away a machine gun rate. Even though the two routes are only about 4 feet apart in some spots he seemed to be getting independent shots of the two of us, amazingly.
When all of us got back to the ground, Andrew introduced himself and grabbed my contact info. And then after a few pleasantries him and the two Black Diamond Athletes (I am making a presumption here, but they were decked in only BD gear) headed off to the French Cattle Ranch. I then gave Fletcher a belay on the short (only 6 bolts) 13a Tetonka, an easy starting climb to in your face V7 for 4 moves and back into 12a slab the rest of the way. The crux dumbfounded both Fletcher and me until my way down while cleaning it. Meanwhile Peder managed to silently send He Biggum. Peder has to be one of the quietest climbers I’ve ever seen!
While I was resting for another attempt at The Incredible Horsecock. Jessica gave a few goes at Walk The Dawg, which went from a very hangdoged TR to a clean TR burn and then maybe two lead attempts at most before she sent! Walk the Dawg is characterised by classic Ten Sleep small holds on a just under vertical slab requiring a lot of finger strength and technique. Feeling the pressure in the air, I gave another go on my project. I did all the moves this time and made a huge link from the crux to the top of the climb.
While we all endured another painfully boring rest period, of low motivation to try anything. So I gave Peder a spray down on what we had tried on Tetonka and he gave it his all managing to flash the route even with the incomplete beta I had provided him! A long while later I put a few more burns into the Incredible Horsecock and never made it past the crux reach 3 bolts into the climb. After about 3 from the ground attempts at the move I had had enough for the day and headed back down to camp.
The next day we got started only about an hour earlier than the day before letting ourselves sleep in to let the route go more into the shade before attempting it again. This time we warmed up at the Ex- Girlfriend Enclave of Hate wall. No Surprise it was in full sun the whole time we got there so we just did Positive ID a 120ft monster of a warm up and then a short 6 bolt 11c affair called the Bitch Flake of Death before retreating into the shade of the Supperatic wall. We finished our warm up on the Great White Behemoth 12b which now sports a surprise at the anchors for you. I wont ruin the surprise but it gave both of us a good laugh – only in Ten Sleep would you find something like that.
My first go of the day I felt really good and didn’t slip on the mono (start of the difficulties) at all but still didn’t manage to catch the crux, which revolves around a huge move off of a 1/2 pad three finger pocket crimp to a small 1/4 pad crimp and really scrunchy feet (for me at least) at the 3rd bolt. So I did the move from a hang and then lowered. I knew that I would have to take my time getting to the crux and be both well chalked so not as to slip off the crimp after deadpointing to it and fresh enough to be able to pull up and lock off my left arm pretty low. I waited for a while dealt with my continually self-twisting rope and then just kind of did the move. I had arrived doing the bottom pretty much perfect but had messed up a little bit in clipping the 3rd quickdraw but just as I was staring down the impossible distance to the next hold I just took a breath and pulled up, lifting my left foot off just as I had done many times before, then I pulled up more and then pushed off my right foot really hard and reached for all I had. I latched the crux hold in a full crimp position instead of openhanded and having to kip into a closed position, which had never happened before. I knew the next two moves could spit me off but I couldn’t waste my time and I was immediately off like a race horse sprinting up and up.
About 4 moves later I found myself a bit confused as to where I was. I couldn’t really remember where to go which place my foot needed to be or how good the next handhold was. I slowed for a second and then just kept moving confident that if I just moved efficiently and intuitively I could make it to the rest and then to the top. Within the next 5 moves I had regained my sense of where the holds were and I relaxed as I entered the crux traverse into the rest. Sitting there switching foot positions to shake my right and left hand I was trying to accurately judge my recovery, because the next two bolts are the hardest after the crux of the route down at the 3rd quickdraw.
After a few shakes I started moving again because I was starting to get tired from all the moving back and forth to shake each individual hand. Thankfully the next series of moves felt the easiest I had encountered them yet as I had almost pumped off of the rounded crimps on my last time this high up. I was rather pumped but kept moving quickly knowing the clipping jugs were just a few moves away and with them the security of clipping the chains as the anchor I used was a bit runnout from the last bolt.
Instantly I was smiling and happy. This was different from when I did Sky Pilot I haddent felt like that was the hardest thing I had climbed but I did feel immense satisfaction with completing the route because of all the trouble it had caused me on that one move down low. It was a kind of calm pleasure instead of an excited energy that I have felt in the past. Part of what I like about trying projects at whatever level I have been climbing at throughout the years is the different emotions that you feel after each attempt and after each send. I have started to understand my process, mentally, with trying a project and how to overcome/understand the inevitable cycle of improvement and setback, but there is always something new to feel and add to the continuum that is my experience rock climbing.
I’ve got to say that I consider the trip a success not because I sent the Incredible Horsecock but because of how my fitness seemed to be overall. Training the summer has been a bit hectic at times for me but it has paid off well, and I can only hope that It will be enough for the World Cup in two weeks. I’m feeling more prepared for it now than I was for SCS Open Nationals, but its obvious my competition has been training too (Ian Dory’s win at the Nor’easter this weekend, he qualified 13th at Nationals in April for the World Cup). Bring it on, I can’t wait no matter what happens.