July 22, 2015
"Where?" was the most common response from people whenever Jamie and I mentioned our 4th of July road trip destination. Ten Sleep, Wyoming is a little town of ~300 people about 60 miles from Buffalo. A few miles outside of town lies Ten Sleep Canyon, boasting over 400 bolted sport routes on amazing pocketed and flaked limestone; the perfect place to spend an extended holiday weekend.
Looking forward to a week of camping and climbing we packed up the truck, loaded the dogs, and started our seven hour drive.
Somewhere between I-80 and Kemmerer we lost cell phone reception for what turned out to be most of the trip. Luckily Jamie had printed google map directions but it turns out that you have to be paying attention to road signs when you don't have GPS turn by turn directions... Three hours into our drive we found ourselves off course but next to Fontenelle Reservoir where we stopped to stretch our legs and let the dogs play in the water.
Eventually we arrived at our camp near the mouth of the canyon. Jamie and I prefer "dispersed camping" (camping outside of a normal campground) and we managed to find a beautiful secluded spot with a river just a short stroll away.
After setting up camp we spent the rest of the day relaxing in the water and building our patented rock walled pool.
For our first day of climbing we intended to visit "Circus Wall" so we packed up our gear and hit the road. Often finding the crag is the most difficult part of climbing; the directions consisted of the following: "Best access from the 5th pullout (on the right)". Shortly after parking in what we hoped to be the 5th pullout another car parked next to us but before we could ask them if this was the correct place they yelled out our names! Surprised, it took us a second to realize these were climbing friends from home! What are the odds of running into people you know, 7+ hours away, looking for the exact same crag?
After a "what are you doing here?" and some hellos we all determined that we were in the right place and started our hike up to the wall. It turns out that the 4th of July weekend is a popular time to be climbing in Ten Sleep and the bottom of Circus Wall was packed so we decided to warm up on some short 5.10a's at Raven Wall.
After enjoying the shaded climbing at Raven Wall for an hour or so the sun started to peak over the cliff and we decided to move farther up the canyon in search of more shade.
After climbing some amazing routes we decided to call it a day and started hiking back to the cars; at least that was the plan until we rounded the corner and found "Wall of Denial" deserted. We'd scoped out "Death Flake from HELL" on the way in and couldn't pass it up.
For our next climbing adventures we hit up "Lower and Upper Psychoactive" walls in "Leigh Creek".
Eventually our fingers started to complain about the thrashing they'd taken on the sharp pocketed rock, forcing us to take a break and eat lunch and cool off in the water at Meadow Lark Lake.
After a few hours of relaxation we paid a visit to "Hound Dog Crag" on our way down the canyon.
Our friends had to head back home so we were now on our own and while we had intended to do some light climbing, mother nature had other plans.
We made the most of being rained out, I started and finished reading "The Martian" while Jamie studied for her GRE (nerd!) and played with the hounds.
The next day brought slightly better weather although the cliffs were still shrouded in clouds. We packed up camp and headed up the canyon one last time.
One route I really wanted to do was "Beer Bong". The route starts out with a steep pocket section and wraps up with an exposed stemming finish. Other climbers recommended turning to face the canyon during the stem but unfortunately the clouds obscured the view so we'll have to try it again next time. Shucks.
Ten Sleep was some of the best climbing I've ever experienced and I can't wait until we can make another visit.