Valentine’s Day Excursion

On some winter days in Laramie, you just feel like this:

Abe, longing for summer

Abe, longing for summer

So that’s why I take advantage of the warmer winter days we are given. On Valentine’s Day this year, Matt had to be in Colorado for a portion of the avalanche safety course he was taking through the University of Wyoming, so I defiantly set off with (aka was kindly invited by) climbers and UWyo students Andrew and Phil to climb at Guernsey State Park. Normally climbing in February at Guernsey wouldn’t be an option, but due to the relatively warm weather we’ve had as of late, the drive was snow-free and being outside, so long as it was in the sun, was comfortable. Phil wrote about this trip among other excursions on his climbing blog, which you can read here.

The view of Guernsey Reservoir from our climbing spot

The view of Guernsey Reservoir from our climbing spot

Guernsey State Park features Guernsey Reservoir, and attracts many boaters, fishers, swimmers, campers, and picnickers during the summer months. Matt and I actually drove through the park on our move out to Laramie from North Carolina, as it lies just west of Nebraska and north of Cheyenne, though still in southeastern Wyoming. As I recall, we simply stretched our legs, found some bolts in a sandstone cliff (indicators of the existence of sport climbing routes), avoided cacti and rattlesnakes, remarked on how it was a little hot, and got going again.

The relatively short cliffs at Guernsey can be both sandstone and limestone, depending on where you are in the park. The area in which we climbed, which I believe is officially named the Red Clove Wall, was mostly sandstone with a little band of limestone at the top of some of the climbing routes. Cliff swallows have built their nests along the less climbed areas of the rock walls. These bird nests resemble giant wasps’ nests, assembled with mud in a corner of a cliff face with a sizable hole for entry and exit – you can see pictures of their nests in Yellowstone National Park here.

The approach, with Guernsey Reservoir in the distance

The approach, with Guernsey Reservoir in the distance

We seemed to be the only people enjoying the park on Valentine’s Day, so the climbing area was nice and quiet, and we had our pick of routes. There isn’t a guidebook for the area; a guidebook is a book containing helpful and essential information on climbing areas such as any rules that may exist (for example, Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t allow dogs), how to get there (driving and hiking), where to park, how difficult certain routes are, their location, how much sun they get and what time of year or day is optimal for climbing them, what gear certain routes require, etc. Without a guidebook, we relied on Andrew’s expertise, which he gleaned from a previous trip to the area. We climbed several moderate routes, maybe some 5.9s and 5.10s, and then got on some harder routes, 5.11 to possible 5.12.

Some of the first bolts, rather than having a hanger through which to clip your quickdraw, consisted of a bolt and a couple of rusty chain links. This resulted in some sketchy happenings…

Yeah, don't fall on that.

Yeah, don’t fall on that.

For reference, this is what a quickdraw through a normal bolt and hanger looks like:

From theartoflifeandclimbing.com

From theartoflifeandclimbing.com

Though the rock itself was not great quality and the climbing required constant awareness of the possibility of loose rock (yay for helmets!), all the routes we did were actually quite fun, not to mention scenic.

Phil taking a little rest while leading

Phil taking a little rest while leading a route

Andrew being too strong for his own good

Andrew being too strong for his own good while pulling a roof

Phil on the same route, chalking up his hands before pulling the roof move

Phil on the same route, chalking up his hands before pulling the roof move

We ate some CLIF bars and trail mix, got a little lost trying to find the car, stepped on some cacti (no? just me?), and drove back home to Laramie, all the while remaining vigilant for road obstacles such as pronghorn and deer.

The moral of the story: climbing > boyfriends. Okay, okay – I’m only slightly kidding.

Phil, thinking about how awesome climbing is, and how much dating sucks

Phil, thinking about how awesome climbing is, and how much dating sucks

Love to all!