This weekend I went out to Whiskey Gulch on Saturday with the vertigo climbing club which consisted of Fletcher, Christian, Shawn, Joey, a guy whose name escapes me right now, and myself. I was the only one who had been to whiskey before and ended up giving a short tour of the Wave, Cone Head, Hidden, and Optimism boulders. Fletcher and I worked every V8 in each area for a bit but were only successful on Lap Dances are so much Better When the Stripper is Crying at the wave boulder. Everyone else tried Lap Dances V4, Wave Runner V3, and the heinous V1 on the Cone Head boulder, with various amounts of success. Joey gave valiant efforts on the V8 slab at the Optimism area and even tried the Boogie Man V8.
Last Monday Leigh had mentioned an add for a cheap drill set up in the fliers section of the entrance at Spire. I checked it out and called the guy, Damon. He was a great guy just looking to get rid of some heavy gear. So I made a plan with him to go meet him up in Helena and buy it off of him. I managed to talk Adam, Joe, Brenda, and Loki (Adam’s Dog) along for the ride with the lure of going to Hellgate afterwords.
Since I’ve never been to Helena before we decided to grab lunch from someplace local after meeting Damon around 11:30. I hadn’t bothered to look at a map and neither did anyone else so we got lost trying to find downtown. Finally after many mentionings of “I have nooo idea where we are going” we found the walking park (analogous to Pearl St in Boulder, CO) to look for a place to eat. Literally everything in four blocks was closed save for a jewelry store, Pita Pit, an ice cream parlor, and a creperie. The other business aren’t even open on a Sunday… I know its the day of rest but what gives??? I mean com’on Helena Iwas just trying to find a non-fast food place to eat. Fortunately for us the creperie was fantastic!
After we found our way back to hwy 12 again we drove out to Hellgate Gulch by Canyon Ferry. I didn’t bring my camera but if you haven’t been there its worth a stop. The limestone there rivals the best rock I’ve seen at Natural Bridge. Its Rifle esq, all the holds face one direction and that direction isn’t necessarily the direction you want to go. But honestly the rock is bullet which is a term I would rarely use for rock in MT…. The only downside is that the angles are pretty vertical so if your not a tech-master you might not find it as intriguing as I did.
We “warmed up” on the hardest 5.8 I’ve ever tried next to Lea’s and then went to the Winter wall and I did a 10b and honestly the 2nd hardest onsight I’ve ever done at 11a. I don’t remember the names I’ll look them up when I go to Spire next or buy a guidebook.
After our sandbagged warm up Joe, Adam and I “walked*” up the hill to the infamous Inferno 12+, Bill Dockin’s hardest rated FA. It is an incredible looking tips crack up a perfect slab of blue rock where you are climbing the only imperfection on the wall. As with everything else in the gulch it is bolting in the bold ethic that reduces any unneeded bolts to zero. It starts out with 2 bolts of steaming to the base of the crack. Several bouldery sections of tips crack, separated by good rests, leads to the crux; A heady and hard two mover boulder problem that leaves you with a less than desired fall on non-confidence inspiring gear. The result of this aesthetic mix of hard free moves and crap gear have rebuked the likes of Jeff Ho, Frank Dusl, Joe Manlove, and probably many others. Sunday we added our names to the list of those who have failed to raise to the challenge left to us by Bill.
* the hill of talus that we turned and skied down at the end of our attempts on Inferno, there is nothing holding the hillside up…
I have to give Bill a lot of credit for being able to complete this line in his chosen style. Were this up to any of us now it would be bolted the whole way, I have no doubt. I would love to go back and find a way to put a top rope on this and figure out the crux moves in safety before contemplating making those moves above the gear again.
This weekend Full Gravity Day 11 will be returning to Spire Climbing Center on Saturday. There will be a youth competition in the morning and an adult competition in the afternoon followed by secret games they haven’t even told me about yet (and I work there!) and of course Finals!!! Some very very strong guys and galls will be coming from all across the Northern Rockies to compete and will be a great show to watch in the evening. Please come check it out, as all the proceeds for this comp, bake sale, and silent auction will be donated to Touch The Sky Inc. A Bozeman non-profit that provides opportunities for youth to be introduced to rock climbing, both inside and outside. This is our biggest fundraiser for the year and determines how many of our great programs we are able to fund throughout the next year.
For Information and to Register click Here. Register before Friday at midnight for $40 or at Spire the day of for $45.