Weekly Climbing Feasts

Hello again from Ten Sleep! After spending an alternately hot ‘n’ soggy or cold ‘n’ soggy spring in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, we’ve been back here in Wyoming for almost a month now. The summer season started out not-so-promising, with cold temps leaving my numb fingers torn apart. Dry, cold air means zero friction; you need a little bit of moisture to help keep hands tacky enough to stay on small holds, not to mention being able to feel them. Anyhow, the cold days left me with chunks of flesh ripped from my fingertips for a couple weeks, until the true arrival of summer more recently.

That happening prompted some quick sends of early-season projects on my part, allowing me to delve right into my long-term relationship with this summer’s biggest challenge. I’d actually tried this route out last year at the end of the season, and given it some good flails, with not too much success – some of the moves were just at the edge of my power limit, meaning I maybe did a couple of the moves only one time, total. This year, though, I’ve found that regardless of the outcome of the route (Send? No send? I don’t know…), at least I’m stronger, since I can do a bunch of the moves in ways I couldn’t last September (i.e., the right and realistic way a climber would who could actually have a hope of sending the route), and I can do many more moves in sequence already. Psyched about this!

But the real news for this year so far has been this season’s incarnation of après-climbing training days. Quick history: three seasons ago (2008), I tried to maintain training through the summer, failed because I got greedy about sending, and then regretted not training. Two seasons ago (2009), I trained on my own through the summer. Last year (2010), I almost always had company in training, but we stuck to the stuff for training inside the house – exercise bands, pull-up bar, hangboard, and body weight. Not so much for this summer…

This summer, the routine that’s established itself goes something like this: climb all day until everyone’s skin is thrashed (along with some muscles). Return to the casa, where I run off to do my hour/hour-and-a-half of weight training on the Bowflex while everyone else heads into the bouldering gym. After I’m done, I go out to the gym, where people are starting to get tired, and that’s when the real fun begins – CAMPUS TIME.

We spend an hour or two campusing around the gym like little kids in a playground, making up all sorts of footless challenges for one another as we monkey about. The falls are dramatic, the moves are ridiculous, and the fun factor is out of hand. It’s a hilarious time, totally captures what rock climbing and bouldering should pretty much always be about, in an ideal world – just pushing your own machine to do things you’re not sure it can do, and having an absolute and light-hearted blast while doing it.

It’s the start of a new week here in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, and I’m already looking forward to the end of the week’s campusing craziness, wondering who will show up this time to play. In the meantime, though, I’ve got days of good climbing on real rock ahead of me – and that’s pretty exciting, too.