The magical skies of Wyoming guided us on our drive to Ten Sleep. Pulling over just outside of Yellowstone National Park to setup camp, we experienced some of the coolest clouds and colors to date.
The morning came fast. Waking slowly, I peeled my sleepy eyes open, rolled to my left and swung my arm around E. We had driven six hours or so the day prior, which landed us just outside of Yellowstone; such an incredible place and often too busy to linger. Thankfully, we were able to cruise through the park the night before, making our morning drive much easier: no stop-and-go traffic to curb our excitement for dolomite climbing in Ten Sleep.
Ten Sleep is the quintessential small town. It’s cozy and compact Main Street leads outdoor enthusiasts and other travelers past a bakery & café, general store, hardware store, restaurant, saloon, bank, gas station and motel. Although most of the other small businesses have dwindled, these special spots and the people that frequent them keep the community afloat. Beyond the traditional activities, like hunting and fishing, rock climbers have chiseled out a spot in Ten Sleep, contributing to the small Wyoming town in a very big way.
Amazing rock canyons and building-sized boulders lined the highway. From afar, some of the rock looked like kitty litter: crumbly, crappy, and no good for climbing. We learned quickly that this wasn’t the case and in fact, the rock is some of the best we’ve climbed on, boasting a huge amount of stone and a wide variation in the style of climbing.
Valhalla, Mondo Beyondo, and French Cattle Ranch were the first few places we climbed at. All were excellent and all were unique. We enjoyed some very awesome routes with great friends. Ben made the long trip from Salt Lake City, Pat and Peter trekked over from Ketchum, Pat’s friend, Sam, flew in from Portland, Conrad drove over from Boise, and Steve, once again, made the trip down from Helena. We also met two new friends, Dave and his dog, Moab, both traveling from Maryland in hopes of making a cool west coast town their home.
In such little time, we climbed so many routes and made even more great memories. Some notable and favorite* climbs of the trip: Beer Bong – 10b, Bikini Girls and Machine Guns – 11b*, Cocaine Rodeo – 12a, Wu-Tangs Wild Shinto Ride – 12a*, Wyoming Flower Child – 11d*, Dope Shinto – 12a, Santa’s Little Prowler – 10d* and Slightly Toasted Cracker – 11d*.
Pat and Sam both dialed in and sent their first 12a’s, Ben got three 12a redpoints: Cocaine Rodeo, Dope Shinto, and Wu-Tangs Wild Shinto Ride, I snagged my first ever back-to-back flashes of two 12a’s: Dope Shinto and Wu-Tang’s, and as usual, ‘downgrader’ Davis crushed every route we did! Bah!
By the end of our trip, our mouths hurt from smiling too much, our bellies hurt from laughing too much, and our bodies ached from all of the excellent climbing we did.
To end our journey, we were greeted by an incredible light show. The sky was thick with smoke and the vibrant colors from the setting sun were unforgettable. The magical skies of Idaho welcomed us home after driving into the sun for ten-plus hours without air conditioning…