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.

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