Climbing in Shoshone Canyon outside Cody, Wyoming!

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That. Was. Awesome.  YES!!!  The three-exclamation-point rule applies here (one exclamation point = three exclamation points).  AJ, Emily, and I drove down to Cody from Billings and stopped at the local DQ for lunch at almost 1100 hrs sharp.  Then, once we had taken care of the essentials, it was off to The Island!  You park off to the side of the road before the first of three tunnels and walk through the first two tunnels with all of your gear.  Then, in Shoshone Canyon, you find a beautiful spot in which to enjoy all the wonders of outdoor sport climbing on granite!  Granite!!!  I attempted a 5.7 and a 5.4 (which I almost sent).

So, the 5.7 was a hard 5.7, but I managed to get probably 1/4 of the way up it before I got pumped and had AJ dirt me.  Flash pump.  I was wearing my Solutions, and boy, was I glad I had the stickier, more flexible rubber going on!  My Skwamas might have done even better (that’s something to try next time).  The Solutions worked like magic on that granite, though!

The 5.4 named “South Ridge”.  I was doing well on it, and then began to get tired.  The hand- and footholds on the granite were amazing.  This route was all jugs of one sort or another, and it meandered quite a bit.  I was 2/3 of the way up the route when I didn’t think I had an ounce more of energy in me.  My calves were pumped, my forearms were pumped, everything was pumped!  I told AJ to dirt me, but he replied that he couldn’t lower me from where I was.  I was too far to the left and it would’ve shredded my rope in addition to being very unsafe.  Something, like a switch, kicked into gear and I just moved.  (The photo featured with this post shows me about to turn it on!)  The movement was fluid, hold-after-hold, just moving up and up, up and to the right, until I finally reached a wide shelf to stand on.  I looked up and the anchors were only 10′ above me.  I had nothing left, though.  I truly didn’t.  How I got to where I was is a blissful mystery – I couldn’t tell you how I did that if my life depended on it.  I had AJ dirt me and on the way down, I was so pumped that I could hardly hang onto the rope as he lowered me.  AJ said later, “That’s how you should feel after every one.”  I landed in a sagebrush taller than I was, and it was quite the task to get me back on my feet.  Everything burned, oh, so badly!!!  AJ untied my figure-eight knot for me because my forearms were granite themselves and I couldn’t really grip anything with any strength at all.  Emily and AJ were so proud of me.  AJ said, “You just turned it on and started climbing – bam, bam, bam – hitting those holds!”  I don’t know where it came from, but I can tell you it felt awesome.  That right there – that motion, that movement across the rock – that was what I’ve been looking for.  It was pure and without the interference of over-analysis or hesitation.  That is now incorporated into my new “normal”, the expanded version, as it should be.  I learned for myself right there and then that it can’t be planned or forced.  It has to come on its own, in its own time, for its own sake, and it only stays as long as it wants to.  Those few moments, or few minutes, or however long that span of time was, were beyond words for me.  Everything just clicked.  Everything just worked.  Nothing had changed but my mind.  I was completely immersed and totally lost in it.  I just wish I had the words for it, to describe it.  There are no words that do it justice.  That was so extraordinary, and “extraordinary” is such a lame, weak word for the experience!!!

Emily sent the 5.7 (called “Jesus Loves Me”) and she worked for it!  I admire Emily’s drive and determination.  She doesn’t quit.  She won’t give up.  She has a right wrist injury right now that she’s been careful with all week long so that she could give it her all on this Cody trip.  She was incredible!  I’m so proud of her!  She is a strong woman, for sure.  It is humbling for me.  I am honored to be her friend!  AJ and I taught her to lead belay with her ATC.  I worked with her on the PBUS (pull, brake, under, slide) movement until she had it down pretty well.  She’s also super intelligent and catches on fast!  I love her attitude!

AJ did some cool moves on a few routes that we haven’t looked up the names for yet.  The  last one of the day was definitely something I wish I had on my GoPro!  I was lead belaying for him, though, which is way more important, and an honor for me as well.  I feel honored to be in these people’s presence, to be with them, to share these experiences with them.  I respect them and their wisdom, which they so freely share.  AJ’s moves were fantastic!  It was a truly great ending to an awesome day!!!  My climbing partners definitely make my life so much better!!!

So.  The GoPro Session 4.  I looked at the footage this morning on my computer and it rocks!  I got some good footage, and AJ took some good photos while he was up on top of the crag and I was belaying Emily on another 5.8 down below.  There are some great, goofy ones in there, hahaha!  The sound was great on it, as was the video.  Good investment all around.  I highly recommend it!  I think the GoPro Session 5 is out now.

Our Cody trip gets five stars from me!!!  Now we’ll see how Spire in Bozeman works out today!!!  Updates forthcoming…

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