Thursday, July 7

WYO Love

Wyoming is bad-ass. Undoubtably my second favorite state (due to my outstanding degree of Colorado pride), this vast and varied place is home to some of the country's greatest climbing and retains a palpable wild west feel that beckons even the squarest of city folk to sport a 10 gallon hat and tip back a red-white-and-blue Budweiser. I love it up here.
I could think of no better venue to celebrate the birthday of our great U.S. of A. than Tensleep, Wyoming. Joined by a slew of national (read: mostly Colorado) climbers and hundreds of hard working Wyomingans, this quite mountain town lights up for the 4th of July, in a multi-day celebration including a Rodeo, parade, fire-works, music and food. Amongst a majority crowd of blue-jeans, belt buckles and tough attitudes you'll find a handful of chalked hands and worn approach shoes. I'd heard plenty of wild stories about this amazing festival over the years, and maybe it's just the American lager talking, but it's everything they claimed it is.... we had a great time.... Monday proved to be a painful rest day, but thankfully we were back at it on Tuesday, excited to get some climbing in.
Wildflowers in FULL effect
Quite a bit of development all across the range of difficulty has sprouted up in the last few years at Tensleep, and I was egger to sink my teeth into a few of the fresh, pocketed test-pieces. The Sector D'or et Bleu had caught my eye years before when I first visited this canyon, and thanks to the recent efforts of locals Alli Rainey, Kevin Wilkinson and visiting James Litz and Joey Kinder, this wall is home to a number of new hard routes. After warming up on the incredible 5.12 offerings of the Shinto wall, I shuffled over beneath the business. My buddy Mike Williams had been tearing up the canyon, and fresh after sending 'Doomsday' 14a, he urged me to give it an honest onsight attempt.

I left the ground with a handful of draws and little expectation. It begins with a brutal, shouldery boulder problem before transitioning into some more resistance crimp and pocket pulling. A healthy rest stands between you and the finishing crux on barely-there pockets to the chains. After emerging through the heinous start, I tried to climb with accuracy through the midsection, leaving energy for some harder movement - which eventually came just below the chains. I am very pleased with my onsight to say the least, and although I must admit that Doomsday definitely felt soft for 14a - it still stands as my hardest onsight to date. Next I moved my attention to a new route that Litz established - a gnarly boulder problem through monos and edges.... weary of such small grips I decided to try it's little brother, 'Halfenheimer' 14a, which begins with the awesome boulder problem featured on 'Sky-Pilot' 13+, and exits shortly after for a bunch of new climbing. After rehearsing the bottom and hanging draws, I tied in and fought to the top - fingers exhausted from the day. Very psyched!
Sector D'or Et Bleu, Doomsday is just left of the hanging rope
Wednesday we went to the incredible Superratic wall, which houses some of Tensleep's most impressive, and hardest climbs. I had heard that 'F'd in the A' 14a was one of the best outings in the canyon, and was hoping to give it a solid flash attempt. Thankfully Alli and Kevin were there and no strangers to the route. They sprayed me down thoroughly as I warmed up. The route is generally consistent throughout, highlighted by hard moves between better than average holds. Some movement is balancey, other is simply powerful. This climb suited me best of the three I tried - more power endurance than bouldery - with few rests and not so tweeky holds. I tried to climb skillfully, and combine Kevin's powerful beta with Alli's short person beta. Thankfully I succeeded in flashing this killer route - super excited! Alli took some butt-shot video of my flash that should show up on her awesome blog in the next few days. I finished the day on 'Kyberspace' 13a/b and 'Tatonka' 13a.
It was tough to leave behind such a rad crew of folks, and an emerging potential of new routes, but something tells me I'll be back. Now we've made it to Lander, Wy, one of my long time favorite hang-outs. We're tucked into homeboy BJ Tilden's place with some rad friends and psyched for the International Climbers Festival! I'll be doing a slide-show including slides from the last year (the Red, Vegas, Smith and the North-West, etc.) this Saturday, 7pm at the High-school here in Lander. I'll also be teaching a redpoint clinic on Saturday and Sunday up at the amazing Wild Iris. Hopefully somewhere in-between I'll have a chance to get out climbing too!