The Wind River Range

“Remote” backcountry place popular with climbers, backpackers, and fisherfolk.

I write “remote” in quotes because there were easily over 100 cars in the Big Sandy Trailhead parking lot when I arrived. A bit shocking after an hour spent driving in on “Am I in the right place?” kind of dirt roads.

The Trip: Drive (8 Hrs) > hike (5 Hrs) >camp (4 days) > climb 1,000+’ faces (x2) > hike out (4 hrs) > Drive home

On Distances

My climbing partner is a sponsored athlete for a smartwatch company. Her watch measured all kinds of cool metrics, from atmospheric pressure to total fitness recovery level. But she didn’t even turn it on to measure the GPS track in or out.

So I can’t offer you much except to say, both in & out, it felt pretty far.

Final pass.

In Quick

The purpose of our visit was to climb some peaks, so we packed in two ropes, a load of protection, shoes & harnesses in addition to all of our camping gear and food for five days. Water, luckily, is abundant in the range, so we filled up and used filtration at natural streams. Still, as you can see from the photo above, the packs were heavy and the trail was long.

We arrived right at sunset, just as the winds shifted and decided to bring us a thick blanket of wildfire smoke. Sadly, it seems this will be the new normal for the American West in summer. We dealt with it last year. We deal with it today. Our children, I fear, will know nothing else.

But in the near past

We camped, we climbed (perfect weather), we rested, and we climbed again. Under mutual agreement, tired & satisfied with our winnings, we left a day early.

Be Mindful Of The Story You Are Telling Yourself

I sit here now, trying to find the story of this trip. A thru-line; a gimmick. An angle to take. I could describe the climbs, certainly — but trip reports in the purest sense bore me to death. We rocked up; we climbed. At times it was scary. We wandered left-to-right across massive rock faces, almost totally lost. At times silly. I carried a loose rock from belay to belay. Often frustrating. We drank strong whisky to animate us for the last pitch. On the summit, a dram more.

Scenes my partner and I have both lived plenty of times.

But the truth may be there is no lesson in this trip. No epic story. No lightning-bright moment of profundity. Just some climbs, a beautiful place, and a good friend. Some golden moments spent in the present, without worry.

This makes for bad content, of course.

But perhaps a good life.

The dirt and plants growing out of the crack is a sure sign this isn’t often climbed. “I think we’re lost!”

Pingora Peak in the background (right)
Cowboy & horse at Big Sandy Lake

In Closing

When your biggest concern for the day is “which meal am I gonna eat?” life is pretty good.

Be well,

Dan

Castleton Tower — North Chimney

Rock climbing is going through some changes these days, with the explosive rise of indoor climbing gyms, joining the Olympics as a competition sport, and the popularity of bouldering. It’s easy to be confused when someone tells you they’re a ‘climber’ — this could entail any number of different activities.

At its most basic, climbing involves using gymnastic ability to reach places generally considered inaccessible by humans. And there is nothing that fits this definition better than a desert tower.

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The Museum of Broken Relationships

Snowy day in CO. Cozy, inside, plenty of time to write. Taking a trip back in time today…

The Museum of Broken Relationships is dedicated to objects. Objects as symbols of love lost, and hearts broken. 

What reminds you of your former lovers?

I visited this museum in Zagreb, Croatia, four years ago. It was on the list of tourist activities at the hostel, and at the moment, I wasn’t too far from the end of my own college relationship. And so, with such things on the mind, one dreary Zagreb December morning, my traveling companion and I set off to visit this strange little museum.

It turned out to be one of the more powerful experiences of my young life.

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The Last Good Day

“There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.”

— John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

You could feel it coming.

As the Coronavirus crisis was mounting in the US, we were in Southeastern Utah, near Moab, rock climbing the impressive desert towers that dot the area.

My climbing partner was a Swedish woman, Anna, a full-time climber who lived on the road. A “dirtbag”, we say in the climbing community. Without a permanent home, remote desert was about the most socially-distanced she could be.

I had a home; but amidst the mounting anxiety, I’ll admit: I wanted to escape. Lockdowns had not yet begun in the USA. But I read the news everyday. Italy closed. France closed. That omnipresent graph, always growing. It was coming.

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