Ten Sleep: the first-time user’s instant addiction

Yesterday was our finale at Ten Sleep…for this trip.  I was so tired from not sleeping and being exhausted from Saturday that I know I need to work on my approach stamina!  We went to the Lower Psychoactive Wall yesterday after we un-camped and bade farewell to the Ten Sleep Brewery animals – the friendly dog, the soft cat, and the free-range chickens.  The approach to Lower Psychoactive was shorter, but just as brutal as that I had experienced on Saturday.  I know that some of you reading this are thinking that these approaches aren’t brutal in the least.  Please remember that this is coming from my perspective at my physical fitness level currently.  I plan on not making these as brutal by following my plans to get into the best shape of my life, but that takes time.  Anyway, we did this cool creek crossing on rocks and logs over Leigh Creek on this approach.  Awesome!  I didn’t even fall in!!!  When we reached the crag, AJ and James led the 5.6 called “Short 1” and set up a toprope for me.  I made two attempts initially and got that flash pump – yes, the dreaded flash pump.  I was also dizzy, so I untied and rested for a long while, getting some sugar and water and salt into my system.  After the dizziness wore off, I felt woozy.  I had found a good spot to sit where I could hand onto a tree sitting on the rock beside it and I stayed there while I recovered and AJ and James climbed around the corner of the crag with Emily taking photos and checking in on me here and there.  Emily had some salty crackers that she gave me to eat, which were a life saver!  AJ and James came and attempted the 5.11 named “Little Smokey Does Super Mama” and it was impressive to watch!

They took a break from their route so that AJ could belay me on my final attempt of the trip on the route I had been working.  It was amazing.  I didn’t send it, but I felt that rhythm of movement that I so covet – that combination of intense focus and almost automatic physical movement, the shifting of balance from one side to the other, reaching with a hand then stepping up with a foot movement that my body knows how to do if I just allow it to…  I was completely satisfied!  Sending the route wasn’t the ultimate goal for me.  Turning it on as far as the movement across the rock goes was, and that I did, so I was incredibly happy!  It was bliss in my little corner of earthly heaven, this beautiful spot in the steep of the Ten Sleep Canyon in the Eastern Bighorn Mountains…  I had given it my all and it felt overwhelming in its power.  Upon untying after my last attempt, I was dizzy again, so I resumed my position on the rock with the tree next to it while AJ and James finished up their last route of the trip (which was tremendous, by the way!).

As we made our way down to the truck, it began to rain and we got to the truck just in time to throw ourselves and everything else in the cab of the truck so it wouldn’t get wet. I had already agreed up on the crag that Emily should drive because I just wasn’t up to the task.  I hadn’t slept last night and I was so exhausted that I couldn’t really focus very well.  I would never endanger my friends or myself by driving in that condition!!!  We stopped at the gas station in Ten Sleep to straighten things out in order to make the trip home tolerable for everyone and it ended up raining all the way from the state line to Laurel!

We dropped Emily off first, then AJ and James.  I am so appreciative of my friends!  Truly.  Few people would have the patience to put up with my much poorer fitness level with a smile, but my climbing buddies all did it, and they do it for me on a regular basis.  AJ, Emily, and James, you guys are my heroes.  I don’t mean that in a corny or facetious way, either.  I mean that very sincerely.  You guys enrich my life and make these climbing experiences possible for me – you make a whole new life possible for me – and I thank you for it, for I can never repay you.  I look forward to our future adventures together!!!

Long story short, Ten Sleep is a first-time user’s instant addiction.  There’s no other way to put it.  The limestone there is sharp, the routes are long, and the approaches are a force to be reckoned with.  It’s all so awe-inspiring, though, and for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and climbing real rock, it’s a paradise!!!  There’s something for everyone there, and I plan on returning many more times in the future in better shape (now that I know what I’m up against) so that I can focus on the crags and not the approaches next time!

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