Staff Trip Report: Ten Sleep Canyon, Wyoming
Trip Report: Ten Sleep Canyon, Wyoming
BY: Derek Humphrey, New Haven Store Manager
We had survived the two and half day journey from New Haven, CT to Ten Sleep, WY. Lauren, Meghan, myself, and our two dogs, Luka and Maggie, all stuffed into a Chevy Malibu with our climbing and camping gear, plus food for at least two of the four weeks.
As we wound our way up into the Bighorns, watching moose tracking off quickly, the anticipation was high and the need to be free of the vehicle was higher still. We had been able to reach our friends, who were up at Valhalla on the Drugs and Sex wall, and we decided to pass camp and hike up to see the massive playground that is Ten Sleep Canyon.
We hiked around and built up the psych, cheering our friends on their climbs and projects, and letting the dogs blow off some pent up energy. We had planned on getting into camp with some light left to set up the tents, but as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. We hiked out as the sun was setting over the cliff line, and realized that on this trip it would be easier to make as few plans as possible and take things as they came. Our friends cooked for us (thanks guys) as we set up tents, laid out sleeping bags, fed the dogs, hung out trading bottles of whiskey, wine, and stories, a refreshing luxury that would be the modus operandi of our Western experience.
Despite our attempts to find shaded spots for our tents it was difficult stay in the tent much past 8am. Maggie, our 7-month-old Rhodesian/Lab mix, was quite ready to stare Lauren or I in the face and push the tent with her nose until we unzipped the door. I was more than happy to roll out of the bag to join her and escape the rising temperature (Meghan and Lauren were always able to sleep a little longer). Outside of the tent the mornings were cool enough for pants and a hoodie, a huge and preferable difference from the CT summer we had been experiencing only a few days prior
Things certainly warmed up in the canyon and to avoid climbing on blisteringly hot, and inevitably greasy rock, we lounged about camp until 1:00 almost every day, drinking coffee, adding eggs to leftovers for breakfast, reading, and doing yoga to ready ourselves for the day.
All the relaxing aside, once we stepped out of the car and hit the trail, it was go time. Arriving at the cliff around 1:30pm was perfect because the cliffs that we mainly hit were east facing so the sun was traversing behind them as we hiked in. Our first day we went to warm up in the Antarctica area, starting with a short climb covered in buckets, pockets, and easy to read moves called Moon Unit’s Secret Shinto Ride, 5.10-. Tucked into an alcove looking out over the canyon floor it was an excellent climb to get used to the style of rock, Bighorn Dolomite, a type of limestone.
We moved onto another, Captain Tombstoner, 9+/10-, a super fun offwidth crack/flake that you could either jam your body into or layback and cruise. A route caught my eye a little farther down in the Metropolis area that I had to try: Jesus Christ Super Jew 10d/11b (11b if you do the extension). I love crack climbing, though I’m not that practiced in it, so I thrutched (painfully jammed, stabbed, and genuinely made an ugly go of it), figured out the moves, and gave it a good shot with only 2 takes. The view was well worth the struggle and the bruised hands.
The days blend. We climb two, rest one, climb two, rest, climb three. Acid Mother Temple, Architects on Acid, Crossbow Chaos Theory, Eurotrash Girls, Insane Hound Posse, The Cows Ate My Hammock, Some Boys Never Learn, Thor, Beer Bong (phenomenal!), Cocaine Rodeo (we watched Meghan and friends do this beautiful, consistent 12a) and more. All super solid, pocketed limestone routes, with confidence inspiring bolting, clean falls, and arm shaking, sewing machine leg thrill. Nights we spent at camp, eating well, sharing stories, and dreaming about new routes to try the next day. I recommend anyone who loves climbing to take the time to cruise into Ten Sleep, try their hand at any number of routes, spend rest days at 2nd Street Coffee house and lounging in the clean, cold water of Ten Sleep Creek, and enjoying the bars with the locals. Give yourself some time as the routes can be pumpy, tendon stretching, and getting your endurance up will take a few days.
The beautiful and open scenery, relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and easily accessible camping all supplement the incredible climbing.
You will slip into the lifestyle and you will not want to leave. We didn’t. The girls might have shed a tear, the dogs stared out the window as we left for Bozeman, MT, then Redfish Lake, Idaho, and finally Maple Creek Canyon, all the while probably wondering if wherever we stopped next would be home. I was wondering that myself.
As much as I learned in school, and as much as I have learned through my working life, I have found nothing that teaches me more about myself ,and about life, than travel. Climbing is all about the process, being in the moment, and shedding the mental baggage that slow us down and make us move inefficiently. Travel shares this. The immersion in the process is what brings so much clarity to many facets of life. I enjoy clarity, and next summer, I will have more, along with whiskey by the fire, bare feet on cool earth, delicious camp meals, and tired hands. I can’t wait.