The majority of our week long first summer trip was spent at Tensleep. After not going far for spring break, we were excited to see new places and get on some new stone. The climbing at Tensleep reminds me of both Sinks Canyon and Wild Iris at once. It combines many of the best qualities of the two areas. Routes that are long and well featured like those found at Sinks Canyon with the stone texture and solidity that I associate with Wild Iris. My new favorite pitch is "The Great White Behemoth" 5.12b on the Superratic. Sierra took this picture of me two moves before my foot slipped, messing up my redpoint attempt. I was going for a really good jug rail, and the climb eases up quite a bit after that. I was a lot closer to finishing the route than it might appear in the photo below.
A view from Dreamland.
We got back to Lander and I had one day to rest up before a trip into Devil's Kitchen with Brian. He had posted a photo of his newly acquired Jeep on Facebook. I immediately commented that I'd pay gas money if he'd take me into Devil's Kitchen with it. The Jeep did amazingly well on the trip in. I've never gotten in there so fast. Brian was quite impressed with his first views of Devil's Kitchen. Despite having seen many photos, and having some sense of the area, he hadn't quite realized the scale of the place.
So we went back down to our gear, but on the way back I noticed an untouched overhanging arete that looked fun. I thought it might be V6, but the top out looked good to warm up on. We took the pads up the talus to give it a go. Brian brushed and climbed out using a rail to the right at V2. I began trying the V6 line. It didn't take long to realize that it wasn't V6. The first move is probably V7, and eventually I got it. The second move is probably V8. I could hit the crimp, but couldn't keep it. Brian gave up on the line, the temps just kept going up, and bouldering down by the river began to seem more inviting. We decided to leave the arete undone and head down to "Paradise Found."
Almost snatching the crimp on the V8 move above a pad placed for practice. The problem starts sitting below my left foot with the big pad moved back so that dabbing isn't an issue. A slippery open project that will be much better in cool conditions.
Brian began working on "Paradise Found" and I began looking for a new line to do between his attempts. He was making quick progress, and so I was looking for something not too hard, and quick to clean. I noticed a few crimps leading out of a pit under the down climb for "Paradise Found." It cleaned up really quick. But it ended up being a somewhat intimidating problem.
We went up to the "Black Sea" area and did a couple lines each. I did a line that felt V6 just right of Black Sea, but I don't know the name of it yet. We also did some traversing that lead to a very dirty top out nearby. With that, we both felt worked and decided to call it a day. We crossed the creek, and decided to check out the boulders just above us on the north side. That's when we found this gorgeous piece of stone. The line out the roof looked classic. The holds all looked good. We had to at least give it a shot. We broke out the brushes, and it didn't take long to clean it up. I sat down pulled onto the first holds, and the entire flake I was grabbing flexed. We applied a bit of pressure to it, and the entire feature fell off leaving nothing in it's place. It wasn't going to have a sit start.
So we started trying from the lowest underclings at the lip of the roof. It ended up being much harder and climbing quite differently than we first envisioned. We couldn't just follow the crack with our feet under the roof. Brian's shoulder was still bothering him, and he decided to stop making attempts. I was close to giving up, but then I found a sequence that just might work. A sloper compression move that just barely let me set a poor heel hook and then shoot past all the small crack holds to a good hold with my right hand.The moves felt really hard, but I decided to put everything I had left into one last try. Somehow I sent it. Each move just barely happened in succession and I found myself topping out, quivering from the extreme exertion. I'm calling it V7 for now. The moves felt nails hard, and required both technique and tension that were far from straight forward. But I did send it at the end of a climbing day, and I usually don't send V7s when I'm tired, so maybe it isn't quite as hard as it felt. I'll have to see what other people think. Anyone seeing the boulder, would refer to it as the boulder with the big cross on it. Based on the cross, and how my strength returned for the final send attempt, I named the line "Resurrection."
There are still some lines to be done in the sector.
"It's committing though." I said.
Brian said "Let's do it." He put the Jeep in 4WD and hit the gas to climb the hill. Everything was going fine, and then 20 feet below the top the Jeep stopped moving and Brian had the peddle to the floor. We sat there not knowing what to do for a few moments. Brian put the Jeep into park, pulled the parking brake, and we both jumped out. Luckily the jeep didn't go anywhere, but there we were standing on the huge 30 degree hill, twenty feet from the top, and three hundred feet from the bottom, just looking at the Jeep. The sun was setting, and we were surrounded by so much space. The Jeep looked quite precarious, sitting on the steepest part of the hill, and it's hard to convey how epic the moment felt in both senses of the word. A scary situation in a dramatic environment.
We began discussing options. We could make phone calls home and have someone rescue us, leaving the Jeep to take care of later. I wasn't sure how a tow truck could reach the place, but maybe a 4WD enthusiast could winch it out somehow. We could hike 15 miles out through the reservation and hitchhike back to Lander. Brian didn't like that idea. We could look for Allen's Ranch, I had a vague notion of where it was.
But what I really wanted to do was to try to get ourselves out of the situation. We still had exactly two options. We could try to get the Jeep up, or we could try to get the Jeep down. Up would get us out of our situation faster, so I thought we should try that first. I said, "Let's get everything out of the Jeep so it's lighter and maybe then it will make it."
But Brian feared that just taking the Jeep out of park and releasing the brake without having his foot on the gas could cause the Jeep to start rolling backwards, picking up speed, maybe tumbling with him inside, until the Jeep hit the woods igniting the gas tank, leading to a terrifying fiery death for the Jeep, and himself.
"Well, let's stack rocks behind the back tires so it can't roll down as easy." I suggested.
"Do you think that will work?" asked Brian.
So we stacked up rocks behind the back tires, and then carefully removed everything we could from the Jeep, including the spare tire. "Alright, it's lighter now. Try to drive it up the hill. We'll leave the rocks behind the back tires." It took a while for Brian to commit to an attempt. I offered to hold open the door so he could jump out if the Jeep started rolling back. I almost offered to try myself, but then I remembered my family, and how much trouble I'd be in with Ashley if I died.
Eventually, Brian prepared himself to commit. I held open the door. He held down the brakes, put the Jeep into gear, took out the parking brake and gunned the engine. The engine didn't exactly roar, but it got pretty loud. The Jeep went forward two inches, and wouldn't go any farther. Brian put the Jeep back into park, pulled the parking brake and jumped out of the door that I was holding open. The jeep rolled back two inches into the rock piles and stopped.
"Alright we can't go up. We should try going down. It will be slow and scary, but if we take it slow we should be to reverse down the entire hill." I said.
"But what if the brakes give out?" asked Brian.
"I don't think the brakes will give out. Trucks don't just go up this hill, they go down it too, and their brakes don't give out. Brakes work just as well backwards as forwards don't they?" I asked.
I imagined the squeezing disks, and recalled all that I knew about friction, and hoped I wasn't overlooking anything important.
We moved the rocks from behind the back tires, and the Jeep didn't move. Brian got in the Jeep. Held down the brakes, did the terrifying step of putting the Jeep into reverse, and decided to leave the parking brake on. I was holding open the door, just in case things got out of control.
"Alright, slowly, slowly let off the brake." I said.
Brian did. The jeep tires started to roll. Brian hit the brakes hard, the Jeep slid a few inches and came to a stop.
"It's going to work! We'll just have to take it really slow." I assured Brian. For the next thirty minutes I did my best to talk Brian down. Both ways. If I had been in the driver, I'd have been terrified too. It was slow going, but we made it to the bottom of the hill, in reverse the whole way. Then we hiked back up the hill to get all our gear, including the spare tire.
A couple views of our things and the hillside.
So I wouldn't recommend driving up to the higher road, after the experience that we had. It worked on the last trip with Kyle, but we might have gotten lucky. Devil's Kitchen is more adventurous than the average bouldering area, and I doubt that the approach will ever be tame. Brian got some good photos and also did a nice write up about our day that you can check out on his blog, Mode of Passion.
Since the Devil's Kitchen day, we've been spending a lot of time at the Rock Shop. Many new problems have gone up, and I'll write a post about them soon.