...Or: 10 Reasons to Visit Ten Sleep Next Season

Positive energy was the name of the game in Wyoming's Ten Sleep Canyon this summer. With more traffic than ever before, it might have turned out differently, but somehow it seemed as though nearly every climber who came here this summer got caught up in the buoyant wave of exactly what rock climbing should be about: having fun, no matter how “seriously” you take it.

Following is a roundup of the most exciting area developments and happenings from this summer, all of which I witnessed personally or heard about first hand. As a disclaimer, I certainly wasn’t privy to every exciting send or event that happened in the canyon this season, so I apologize in advance for leaving anything or anyone out.

1. Strong women sending. Never before has Ten Sleep Canyon witnessed such an onslaught of strong female climbers. Colette McInerney, Ana Junker, Jenn Fleming, Nicola Korvin and Paige Claassen, among others, all left their marks on the canyon with impressive sends in the 5.12+ to 5.13 grade range.

Strong woman Colette McInerney.

2. Nori Nozumi and Alisa Hughes. I could’ve included these two in No. 1, but they warrant their own category. Both arrived not really considering themselves sport climbers, with no 5.12 ascents to their names…yet. By the end of the season, Nori, a boulderer who showed up with no gear or rope (I loaned her draws and a rope for the summer), had far surpassed her goal to climb 5.12a. She redpointed Esplanada (5.12d) and onsighted Cocaine Rodeo (12a), as well as sending two additional 12bs and three 12as. Similarly, Alisa, who had a goal of climbing 11a on this trip, redpointed five 5.12s up to 5.12c (Left El Shinto).

Nori Nozumi, exceeding expectations.

3. New climbing area. Longtime canyon climber Mike Snyder started bolting Downtown, down-canyon from the popular Mondo area, early on in the year. When the drill dust settled, a new crag had been born, with more than 20 climbs ranging from 5.10b to 5.13+. Aaron Huey, JB Haab and Charlie Kardaleff were among the other contributors to making this new sector a reality.

4. New route development. In addition to the above, Dave Hume, Lenore Sparks, Joey Kinder, Nick Martino, and Kevin Wilkinson were among the others who added to the canyon’s route offerings this season, including several new 5.13s and 5.14s as well as easier climbs.

Joey Kinder, representing with the technique.

5. Strong kids. I watched Boulder’s Stefan Lavender cruise Dances With Cows (13a) his second go, and I was also impressed by his positive attitude and his supportive belayer (Dad!). Also visiting the canyon was 15-year-old Kerrek Stinson from nearby Cody, who (with little prior sport climbing experience) onsighted Heart, Balls, and Swagger (13c), Crown Prince Abdullah (12d), and The Burden of Immortality (12d/13a), also redpointing He Biggum (13d) in a handful of attempts. (Stinson also sent four 5.13s up to 13d in Lander in a handful of tries, and then went back to bouldering in Cody to get the first ascent of a longstanding problem, Dope is Chrome (V13), along a bunch of V12s. Whew…quite a summer for him).

6. Bozeman climbers—wow. They are STRONG! I’ve never seen so many peeps who can throw down 5.13+ so quickly who aren’t from Boulder or Salt Lake City. It’s not a big city (about 40,000 people). I’m impressed. I wish I knew all of their names to list, but I don’t. Suffice it to say, watch out for the Bozeman climbing crowd.

7. Growing local climbing community. More folks from Ten Sleep and Worland had a presence at the crags this year, which was awesome to see. They should be out there enjoying this incredible climbing area right in their backyard.

The communal community.

8. Great climbing partners. Finding myself partnerless due to Kevin’s lengthy wait for a visa, I drew upon the climbing community to help me out, and I wasn’t disappointed—I spent the summer trusting my life mainly to Danny Spollen, Liz Arce, Lawrence Hughes, Gitta Lubke, Todd Clark, and Nori Nozumi, with a special guest appearance by a random guy from Italy who belayed me on one of my best sends of the summer.

9. Training sessions like never before. Every other summer at my house, I experienced a bit of childish resentment as I watched everyone else eat and drink while I trained after climbing. Not so this summer—nearly everyone who stayed here (more than 30 people, all told) trained with me at some point. One night, 10 climbers trained with me after climbing—such a totally motivating experience.

10. Acceptance and non-exclusivity. Ten Sleep really came into its own as a place for sport climbers of all abilities to gather and share the passion for climbing in a supportive and positive environment.

Hope to see you out there next season!