Monday, June 28

and so it ends..

It's funny how, no matter how long you're away, like a tape-deck you simply press play and the same old home-town song starts right up again the moment you return. It's like you never left.. I mean come on, the Whole Foods renovation project even looks the EXACT same! I'll admit that something has definitely changed however, and it's making my underarms perspire at a shocking rate- it's freaking HOT. But before I warm heartily passed the 'Welcome to Colorful Colorado!' sign I did have a couple brilliant climbing days at Wyoming's (once) best kept secret- Tensleep.
Myself on 'Hellion' 13c way back in '08!! Andy Mann photo.
I say (once) cause unlike two years ago when I first visited, now you can expect to see others, and at that, you might not get a parking spot on the weekends. The place has certainly blown up, and for good reason- it's wicked. I wanted to take Paige straight to the goods, so we started at the beautiful Sector D'or et Bleu / Grasshopper wall, home to many of Tensleeps classic pocket cranking vertical 5.13s. I had managed a quick ascent of perhaps Tensleeps most coveted hard route, 'Sky Pilot' 13+, on my previous trip, but had yet to sample the other numerous routes on the wall. I began with 'Rosy Pussytoes' 13b, feeling confident from the ground, but then BOOM! immediate-gnarly-crux-bitch-slap. I needed a second try to put this bouldery thing down. Next I moved to 'Super Mama' 13a, on a striking section of bright orange limestone with a recently added direct start. I *barely* managed to onsight this thing, holy crap it's sandbag!! WHOA. Next door is one of the best on the wall- 'Blue Light Special' 13b, unfortunately that pretty blue color is the result of running water, and this route, albeit dry, was filthy. I took a burn just brushing and chalking holds, and dispatched 2nd try- sustained, brilliant crimping for days.. excellent climb. Paige onsighted a burly 12d called 'Esplanada' and I followed suit, finishing off a great day at Tensleep.
Moonlight above Tensleep Canyon

The next day we returned to check out 'Sugar Mama' 13c, a short-lived, but powerful climb to the left of 'Super Mama' that was also filthy. After cleaning it up a bit and chalking some grips, I fired it second try. We then wandered over to another wall I had briefly checked out previous- the Superratic, home to some world class limestone and some of the canyons hardest. My intention was to try one of Kevin Wilkinson's new routes next to the amazing 'Hellion' 13c, but I couldn't help myself but to drop my rope in front of the recently opened, 'He Biggum Fucked' 14a. This route is a total stunner- gorgeous. Long, thuggy movement between good pockets with poor feet characterize the climb, which ascends a golden bulge of near perfect stone. I sussed the sequential beta on my first try, and fell in the final crux on my second... feeling a bit worn down, I contemplated saving it for another day- but couldn't seem to keep my eyes off it, and went for a third burn- which thankfully resulted in success. Stoked! I loved this climb.. one of my favorites of the trip, and unfortunately it would be one of my last..

The following day we moseyed on down to Thermopolis for a dip in the hot springs and unexpectedly, a wicked hot rod show. The crowds were hilarious, we got our AMERICA on for sure. Shit, I wore my tank top and even drank a beer in the park- it was a thorough rest day. We were planning on spending a couple more days cragging, but the pockets finally caught up to me and on our next day on I felt some soreness arrive after a strenuous mono. Paige talked sense into me (once again) and convinced me to rest. In three tries she skillfully dispatched 'Hellion' 13c, and so we decided to call it good and bail- and so it ends... six and a half weeks later, we're back in the 'Rado.. after a killer road trip that took us through almost exclusively new (to us) terrain and across nearly 5,000 miles of highway. We had a BALL meeting dozens of awesome individuals, exploring the great North-West and getting some hard rock climbs done. Thanks again to everyone who helped us out, pointed us in the right direction, sprayed us down and put us up- this community kicks ass.
the daily routine back in Terrebonne..
ahhh. Smith. Awesome. Ben Moon Photo

The soreness in my hand dissolved in a day or two, and I've been climbing ever since we got back. We escaped to the cool temps of Estes Park almost immediately, where I've been spending my days high above the valley at Wizards Gate, repeating killer routes I established last year as well as adding some new ones (BOLTING! YES!). It always feels good to come home, but I'll admit I miss the road already- thankfully it won't be long until I'm off again!
Alpine sport climbing on 'Cloak & Dagger' 13c at Wizards Gate. Andy Mann Photo

Stay tuned at SPORTIVA LIVE as well for some bonus photos and stories from our recent trip.