Monday, November 28, 2011

Sinks Canyon Climbing, After the Fire

It took us a little while to get back to Sinks Canyon after the fire. Since the fire two weeks ago, we had a really cold weekend, and then we took a trip to Colorado for Thanksgiving. We returned to perfect weather in Wyoming, and decided to take advantage of it yesterday. The cause of the fire in Sinks hasn't been determined yet, but I can report on the damages.

I'll begin with the bad news. At least a couple, really good, dolomite boulder problems were destroyed by the fire. The Back Pocket Boulder sustained the worst damage. Key holds on "Double Clutch" V4 are now missing, because a nearby tree caught fire and a large flake exfoliated off of the problem. The V7 traverse from Back Pocket to Double Clutch was also destroyed. It's hard to say if the lines will go again. If they do, they'll be much more difficult.
On the brighter side, the cliff was barely affected. An obscure route or two could have been damaged near burned trees, but the popular walls appeared unscathed.
The hillside is an even better solar collector, now that it's blackened. Our day felt quite warm for 45 degrees. T-shirts all day. Incredible conditions for late November, or anytime of year really. We spent the end of the day at the Addiction Wall. Once the sun started going down, the cliff cooled off, and Ashley used the improved friction to make a clean toprope ascent of "Public Enemy."
I managed to struggle through the crux bottom half, but wasn't able to de-pump at the "rest" and fell off the easier second half.
The happiest coincidence, I noticed, was that the large juniper below the Addiction Wall didn't catch fire. It came close, as you can see on the lower branches above. If it had gone up in flames, "Pretty Hate Machine," "The Gathering," and "Dogs of War" would have all been destroyed.

Tony on the spared route, "Pretty Hate Machine."
The fire could have been much worse. If you visit during the next few months, expect a blackened hillside, the lingering smell of smoke, and great climbing. Have fun out there!

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