Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ten Sleep and Devil's Tower

In my last post, I shared what happened in Lander. That was only a part of what happened in Wyoming. After we left Lander on Monday, July 12th, we headed northeast to an area called Ten Sleep. Before this trip, I had never heard of this place. So when Calvin suggested that we go there I had to look in to it more. I read that it had 200 foot Dolomite walls lining this canyon and filled with sport climbs. My first thought was, "great, more sport climbing." Its not that I don't like sport climbing, but would prefer to sink my hands and fingers into cracks and place gear on lead. All of the climbing that we did in Lander was sport climbing on similar rock. I was kind of in need of something different. But I decided to endure this hardship and go there and try to enjoy myself.
Ten Sleep

The drive to Ten Sleep was filled with boredom, laughter, and a lot of sweating. You see, my A/C decided it didn't want to work as well as it should. Therefore, we had to drive there with the windows down. That was a bit unpleasant, but we made it to Ten Sleep without too much trouble. As we began to drive into the canyon, Calvin, who was driving ahead of me, pulls over. I pull besides him and find out whats up. Him and Brad can't decide where to climb. We then keep going down the road. This happens at least five more times before we decide to go get a campsite before climbing. We set up close to some friends we had met in Lander, Jaques (aka Jack) and Kuva. (I think that is how their names are spelled.) Jaques is from Quebec and Kuva is from Australia. After securing a spot we headed out to the Mondo area. There we hiked up the the Valhalla wall and looked around. The first route we did was a 10c with an 11c extension. I was the first to go. I didn't know if i would do the 11c part when i left the ground, but when i got to the first set of chains I decided to continue up. It got hard very fast. I had to sit and look and the holds while resting on the rope. After a few tries, I made it to the chains. After Calvin and Brad went up I decided to give it another go. I managed to redpoint it.

After that, Calvin wanted to do a route called Cocaine Rodeo just down the bluff line a little ways. So we headed over to is. It is a 12a, 100 foot route. Calvin went first. He worked out some of the moves and made it to the top. Then it was my turn. The route didn't look too hard, but I knew I would have to give it my all and climb well to get the onsight. I started climbing. I easily made it through to the first rest. Then I climbed a crux section to another rest. I began thinking that I might be able to onsight this thing. I pull through a small roof section and on to the thin vertical section. I make it to the last bolt and I am starting to get pumped. I pull up rope to clip and I feel like I am about to fall so I drop the rope and regain my composure. This is gonna be a hard clip. I once again pull rope up to clip and as the rope nears the carabiner's gate, I fall. I felt like I was never going to stop. When I finally stopped, I had managed to take about a 30 foot fall. It was totally clean, but was probably the longest fall I have taken to date. Once I realized I was alright, I began yelling with excitement. That was the best I have ever climbed. Even with the fall, I was super stoked at my efforts. If I wasn't so tired, I would have tried the route a second time to try for the redpoint, but I was finished for the day. Or so I had thought. Torrie managed to get me to try the 11c to the left. I was worn out enough that I didn't get that route clean.

That night, we hung out at camp. Kuva came over and began talking with us. Her and Calvin then began discussing religion. It was a good talk, but not much really came of it, or at least not that we know of. The next morning, Brad and I headed into town to grab some breakfast. We ate at the Crazy Woman Cafe. The breakfast was great, but a little on the heavy side. Now I was lacking motivation to climb. Still, Brad, Torrie and I went to the Circus Wall and met up with Kuva and Jaques. We sat around looking at a 5.9 that they had put draws on. Finally I decide to climb it. It was a stellar route, but I was tired. After that we sat around some more. After about an hour or so, I gave a 10b to the right a try. It was really good. We lacked motivation that day. After those two pitches we decided to head to the car and get ready to leave for Devil's Tower. Finally, I will be able to place some trad gear. After packing everything up, we headed off to the tower.
Johnny waiting to leave Ten Sleep
Johnny happy to see Devil's Tower

We arrived at the tower in the evening. It was too late to climb anything so we walked around the tower and then went to camp. We met up with a former on the road missionary named will who works as a climbing ranger there. That night, we got to hang out with him, another climbing ranger, a guide there, and a young lady that works at the Devil's Tower Lodge. We were camping at the Lodge. The next day, Calvin, Will, and Torrie were going to climb El Matador and another route. This left Brad and I to find something to climb. We settled on climbing New Wave 5.10a into Assembly Line 5.9. New Wave goes up two pitches then Assembly Line starts just to the left of where New Wave finishes. This is a popular way to summit the Tower. The first pitch of New wave is at its hardest 5.7. Its a rather simple pitch. The second pitch, is where the business is. It continues up the same dihedral using hand jams, finger locks, and some face moves. Then you come to an area where the crack disappears. Here you have a very balancy move protected by a bolt. This is the crux. My first try at it wound up with me climbing back to a stance before fully committing to the move. I did it without any problems, but it is a bit unnerving. After that move, it stays a bit harder in some thin hand jams and finger locks. Then you come to the last 20 feet which is just a beautiful and simple hand crack leading to the Teacher's Lounge ledge. As I was bringing Brad up on this pitch, I hear something fall off of my harness and begin to fall down the wall. At first I didn't know what it was, but when I saw the green cord trailing the object I knew what it was; it was Johnny Bravo.
Brad nearing the top of New Wave. Johnny fell to a ledge to the left of Brad in this picture.

If you remember from a few posts back, Johnny accompanied me on this trip. He has proven to be good entertainment while driving. Because of his loyalty, I decided to take him up Devil's Tower. At the base I had tied him to my harness with the cord. While belaying Brad, I guess Johnny thought he had had enough climbing for the day and wanted to try base jumping. He only forgot to pack a chute. He ended up taking a 200 foot fall before stopping on a ledge 25 feet from the ground. This made me sad. I was all psyched on getting a summit picture with him. A party below us ended up rescuing him from the ledge and taking him to the Kiosk in the parking lot.

After sitting on the ledge for at least 30 minutes chillin out in the sun, we decided to continue up the route. Now we were about to start the first pitch of Assembly Line. It is a 130-150 foot pitch. It starts off with a technical finger crack then turning into a thin hands/ hand crack. Normally 5.9 crack isn't much of a problem for me, but when it is 110 feet of the same thing, my feet and legs get very tired. I had never had to jam my feet this much on a climb. I ended having to rest on a few pieces of gear before getting into the offwidth section near the top, which had many rests and was much easier. After what felt like a long time, I made it to the anchors. Then I started to bring Brad up. He ended up getting pumped and tired quickly so he started French Freeing most of the route. To those who don't know what French Freeing is, it is when you just pull on the gear to ascent, much like aid climbing, but without the aiders. After a long time he made it to the anchors. We now only had one more pitch until the top. I took off up the pitch. I ended up running a lot of it out since it was easier and I would be making this a very long pitch. I get near the top and set and anchor. I then yell down to Brad that I am off belay. After telling him that he is on belay and that he can climb, I never hear a response. After about 1o minutes I finally feel him starting to climb. It turns out that he couldn't hear me. Finally, we made it to the top. I ended up calling my mom from the top. It was fun. We managed to find our way back to the ground safely. Then we met back up with Calvin and Torrie so that we could go get some burgers. They were just what we needed.
On the top of Devil's Tower.

The next day, Torrie and Brad opted out of climbing due to being worn out. So Calvin and I played on a route called Mr. Clean. This was an even better line than what we had done the day before. We only did the first pitch which goes at 11a. For a full 200 feet you go up a finger/ thin hand crack. Calvin was going to try it on lead, but after taking a few falls at the crux, he went piece by piece up the route so we could set up a top rope on it. I almost got the route clean on TR, but near the top, my calves started to give out and I had to have Calvin take on me. Once I had done it, he went up in on TR. That was all the climbing we did that day, at least on the tower. We went back to camp, cleaned up, and got ready to give a talk to a group of boys that Calvin was asked to speak to. We gave a demonstration on climbing and Calvin talked about serving God.

Johnny Bravo trying fire spinning after his failed attempt at BASE jumping.

Right after that, we hiked up the hill to make a spoof bouldering video. Torrie and Brad had found some crappy rock earlier in the day and wanted to make a video where holds were exploding left and right. Well they got their wish. We probably broke about 50 or more holds in a matter of two hours. It was quite a bit of fun. That night, we ended up slightly going crazy at the camp ground. We also managed to come back to find a bull was roaming though the yard. At one point when I was walking out of the bathroom, the bull got to within a few feet of me. I must admit that he scared me, a lot.
The Lodge's camping area complete with a great view and a bull?

That was our last night together. In the morning I headed back to the Denver area and they made their way back to Oregon. It was quite the trip. I enjoyed all of it. I can't wait to go back to Wyoming and sample some more of its climbing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The International Climber's Festival

The second leg of my trip involved going to the International Climber's Festival in Lander, WY. The main reason for me going there was that the Solid Rock Climbers for Christ National Conference was being held at the same time and place. We did this on purpose so that we could have a presence there and do an outreach for the event. We were going to do this by feeding the climbers burritos.

I arrived in Lander on Wednesday afternoon. After registering for the festival, I made my way to the park to hopefully meet up with Calvin and his crew. They were no where to be found. So I set up my tent next to what I hoped was theirs and proceeded to be bored for a few hours. The coolest part about Lander was that you can camp in the city park for free for up to three days. Where else in the US can you do that? After a while, it was time to go to the first event of the festival, a talk by Arno Ilgner. Those who have never heard of him, he wrote a book called the "Rock Warrior's Way." It deals with the mental aspect of climbing. He then gave a presentation on applying those principles to climbing. After an hour, the presentation ended and I found Calvin at the presentation. We then went to grab some food and begin preparing for the week.
Lander City Park

The first day, our crew went to Wild Iris to climb. It is at a higher elevation than Lander so it was cooler up there. After climbing a few warm ups, Calvin and I met up with Paige and Jonathan who were climbing a route named, Hot Tamale Baby 11d. I took a go at it, but was stumped by the reachy crux on pockets. Calvin then gave it a go. After a few falls, he made it up to the top. I then got on to figure out the moves. It was hard. After that, I went over to a 10a sport route that Brad and Torrie had left draws on. I was planning on getting them back. I start climbing. The beginning is a bolted crack. I get about 10 feet up, and while trying to get in position to clip the bolt, I slip out of the crack and hit the ground. Luckily I felt my hand slipping so I was prepared to hit the ground. After the fall, the people next to us though I had taken a harder fall than I had taken and expected me to be hurt. I was not hurt at all. My ankle felt a little tender, but was fine. I then got back on the climb and managed to make it to the crux. There I had trouble reading the route and had to rest on the rope. I managed to get through the crux and make it to the top. After that, I figured I was done for the day. But Chris, Torrie, and Brad managed to get me to climb another 5.9. Then the other Brad came with Heather and they were planning on getting on a 12b called Rising From the Plains. I then gave that route a go on top rope. It starts off with a very thin and technical slab. It then goes into a roof with larger holds. I made it all the way through the slab before coming off. Then when I got to the roof I had some troubles with the reaches. As I neared the top, my finger, which I had injured this past spring at Smith Rock, started to bother me. Therefore, I decided to stop climbing and end the day.
Heather on Rising from the Plains

The next day, Torrie and I went back to Wild Iris to film and photograph Paige and Jonathan. I was basically sent along to help set up the fixed line for Torrie to hang on. After meeting up with them, Torrie and I headed to the top of the bluff and began to set up our line. It was quite a challenged getting up there. We had to do some easy 5th class climbing and finding cracks to build and anchor proved difficult. After finally building the anchor we rapped down and Torrie began to get his camera gear ready to shoot. He ended up hanging on that rope for a few hours while Paige and Jonathan climbed multiple routes in the area. After he was done shooting, I jugged up the rope and took down the anchor. Then I had to climb back down the way we went up. It was much scarier going down. I was waiting for a hold to break. If that would have happened, I would have had a nasty fall. Luckily, that didn't happen. After that, we got one more climb in and then headed back to town for the evening.

On Saturday, we showered then got to hear from Steve Hughes (one of the board members and an expert on evangelism in today's society). After that, we began to prepare for the burrito feed. We had to chop veggies and get the beans ready. After one cut finger and a massive blister, the preparation was done. We then headed to the park to get ready to serve the people. The feed went well. Many hungry climbers showed up and enjoyed the massive burritos. After the burrito feed, Torrie and I headed to the showing of films from the Telluride film festival. The films were very good. Even the one on trout fishing in Kamchaka. My favorite was on Alex Honnold free-soloing Moonlight Buttress and The Regular Northwest Face on Half Dome.

Sunday we were blessed to hear from Paige Claassen speak about her life as a climber and Christian. After that we headed up to Sinks Canyon for one more day of climbing in the Lander area. I was not very motivated to climb, so only got in a few pitches. Then we went to a former climber and member of Solid Rock's house to shower. It was nice getting to get cleaned up and to get to know someone. That was our last day in Lander. The next morning we would get some work done on the internet and then head to Ten Sleep.

I will soon have a post up about Ten Sleep and Devil's Tower. In that post you will hear about whippers, Australians, Johnny Bravo, and a bull.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beginning of the Road Trip

This past weekend, I began my month long road trip. My first destination was Springfield, MO. I can never get enough of that place. After a quick three and a half hours, I arrived. I met up with my friend Dave and we headed to Chick-Fil-A for supper. After that, Dave and I stopped by Nate's to see what he was up to. When we arrived, Nate and his wife Sarah were preparing to go to a party with some other climbers. We were invited. At this party, Dave and I had our second supper, California Rolls. After eating too much and laughing just the right amount, we headed back to Dave's to sleep off all the food we had just eaten.

The next morning, Nate and I got up early to head to Arkansas to climb. We decided to do a route called Darkness at Noon (10b). It is a super fun route that starts in the back of a cave. Neither of us had done it before and we figured it would be dry. I got to lead the first pitch. Yes, this is a multi-pitch route. Unfortunately, it is only a multi-pitch out of a need to reduce rope drag. The first pitch is 35 feet of over hanging hand crack in a dihedral. It is pretty stout. It took me 5 minutes just to figure out how to get on the stinking thing. But once I figured out how to start the route, the rest came fairly easily. I then reached the anchors and brought Nate up. Nate then led the second pitch. It traverses along the roof of the cave. Luckily there is a small foot rail to use the entire length of the pitch. The crux of this pitch is squeezing down and through a narrow opening. It isn't that hard, but is just very awkward. The third pitch is a typical Arkansas roof route. Easy jug climbing to a roof, awkward move pulling the roof, then jugs to the top. I wish I would have remembered my camera. This climb would have made for some fun pictures. After that we did a few more climbs then headed back to Springfield. The rest of the weekend wasn't as exciting. I got to hang out with Dave and Kayla. I also was able to go to Center City Church (formerly Nu Brew). Overall, a great weekend.
Johnny Bravo showing me which way to go

Then Monday came. This was the day that I was not looking forward to. I had a 770 mile trek across the plains to make. If you have never driven across Kansas or any other plains state, do it. Then never do it again. I managed to stay awake and busy by singing for most of the drive. I think thats why my throat is a little sore today.
Johnny excited to be entering Colorado. He doesn't know that the mountains are still a few hours away.

After 11-12 hours of drive time, I arrived in Lakewood and hung out with my friends Jarrod and Renee. When I arrived, they said that we were going to go to a free concert at Red Rocks amphitheater. But, we would have to walk so we could avoid paying for parking. After a nice hike, we arrived. The place was packed and the Denver Symphony was finishing up the first half of the concert. We marched our way to the top of the place to watch the second half. It was a great show. I tried to get some good pictures, but the light was fading too quickly and I couldn't hold the camera still enough to get any good pics, but here are a few that turned out.

Red Rocks Amphitheater with the Denver Symphony playing.

Today, I am relaxing, planning, and getting ready for the craziness to begin tomorrow. For tomorrow, I drive to Lander to attend the SRCFC National Conference and the International Climbers Festival simultaneously. After that, a short trip up to Devil's Tower. There is a lot of climbing planned over the next two weeks. I cannot wait. After that, I am coming back to the Front Range to hook up with friends, climb, and just have fun.