Alli Rainey will climb in just about any conditions, she just loves rocks and finding her way up them. However, the recent heat wave that swept though the U.S., including Wyoming, sent her heading to the high country to escape the unseasonably high temperatures.
Today, I’m resting, writing, recovering and contemplating climbing in Ten Sleep Canyon tomorrow. All morning long, I’ve been visualizing the canyon route I want to take down. If I can send it this season, that would allow me to focus even more on new and different things, like this high-country climbing area. I’m so stoked that we finally motivated to come on up here and camp and climb; it’s been talked about for years, literally, but never acted upon until a few weeks back.
What made it happen this season?
First of all, the intrepid Mike “Milky” Williams (of Astroglide fame) had to show up from West Virginia toting his massive psych and murderous canine (who pretends to be a sweet li’l southern gal when she’s not terrorizing local wildlife). Having summarily destroyed most of Ten Sleep Canyon’s test-piece outings last summer, Milky was on the prowl for new territory to trample and devour. He sharpened his steel talons and his drill bit and went on the warpath early on…returning back to basecamp with photos aplenty, followed by numerous excited email status reports from his mountainous lair as he attempted to lure the rest of this summer’s faux-family into ditching the canyon and fleeing into the mountains.
My husband, Kevin Wilkinson, was all ears, easily drawn in by Milky’s sweet siren song of steep, clean dolomite crags just awaiting loads of climber love. Kev also had lost the fever for canyon climbing, having completed what he wants to climb and bolt within its noble depths, particularly at the summer-season areas. He was in search of something newer (to him) and more awe-inspiring as well. Leave it to Milky to provide the fodder necessary to reignite Kev’s fire for dolomite climbing. Add to this mix a marvelous mélange of other similarly minded folk, including our super-stoked housemates, newlyweds David and Christine Sjӧquist, plus Alabaman Billy Brown, and we had the perfect mishmash of personalities and climbing zeal to bounce on up to the high country to begin finishing what was started way back in 1988.
The weather helped force our hands, too. We’re experiencing a scathing, scorching, skin-shredding, searing, shriveling heat wave of gargantuan proportions. I did think maybe I was fooling myself and making light of how hot it was in previous years, as people are wont to do at times, but then I got my electricity bill for June. Holy moly! It was the biggest electricity bill I’ve ever had, more than double last June’s and surpassing July AND August 2011, due to how many days we had the evaporative cooler running to try to keep the house at a reasonable and comfortable temperature. I’m not talking super-cold, either; it’s not A/C, just an old clunker of a cooler. This means that the canyon climbing temps are nasty-hot compared to the norm; when it’s 105 in town, it’s 90 at the crag. That’s just too hot even in the shade for smallish-sandpapery-hold climbing to sound like superb fun for us, not when we know how good it CAN be and have the time to wait for the heat to dissipate, you know?
It’s a great getaway for us this summer, even though I myself am still hot in pursuit to snag a couple sends of canyon routes that have long bouted me. Having another area to focus on is helping to keep me from getting too single-track minded about them. New climbs provide me with a healthy balance of less-thrashing challenges to keep my climbing-brain interested and excited about the whole shebang as I test myself on unmapped (to me) territory.
Still, though, after two awesome days of climbing here, I find myself sitting in the camper this morning conjuring up new battle plans to try to take down my enduring canyon foes. I feel these couple routes everywhere I go these days, no matter where I am and what I do. They linger at the edges of my consciousness always – and it’s not really a bad thing, I don’t think. Obsessive? A bit, sure. Okay, yeah, maybe more than a bit. But as I realized the other day when I was engaging with the canyon route that I’m in active pursuit of trying to sew back together right now (after one-hanging it more than 10 times last summer), it is still an awesome route (F’ed in the A, 5.14a).
No matter how many times I try it, and no matter how many times I get bouted on it, I’ll still want to send F’ed in the A, because of that fact – it is an awesome route. The sequences and movements are stellar, and I appreciate that every single time I’m on it. Plus, this route pushes me to my limit, and I love that experience in climbing more than anything, even if it means literally hundreds of failures in order to achieve success. I’ll flee to the high country for ego-salving candy (read: easier routes to send), but I’ll be back in the canyon with regularity to finish off my longstanding rivals as well, no matter how long it takes me to do so. Wish me luck!