Salt Lake is hot. Like really hot . . . hotter than "I've been sitting in the passenger seat of the car on the sunny side for 45 minutes in a down jacket hot". Hotter than the EP Remix of Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks featuring Hollywood Holt. Hotter than The Real House Wives of the OC meets Real House Wives of New Jersey meets Jersey Shore meets I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Hotter than (yes, it really is this hot) "Sorry I was staring honey but its Jess Yonker". So how does this place produce so many world class athletes? So many 100% jacked, tan, ready to crush, pebble smashers? Unless they've all coughed up several grand to front the expense of having the sweat glads removed from their hands, you plain and simply just aren't climbing here June to September. I hope in the coming months to decipher the answer to this mystery, but until said point I can't help but miss my beloved Montana. Her cool summers, abundance of alpine adventures, shady crags, and cold nights have all lead me to dedicate this post to my memories of climbing in the Gallatin Canyon of Southwest Montana.
When I first moved to Bozeman, a future self would look back and refer to his predecessor as a gumby. I knew as much about climbing as Mitt Romney knows about how to fix the economy. The local guide book for the area was outdated and out of print. Thankfully the MSU library had a copy which I was able to take notes from. Though, at this point in my climbing career whether or not I had a guide truly didn't matter; there were probably less than 10 climbs in all of Gallatin canyon I could lead, I had 3 cams, a rack of stoppers, and my only climbing partner preferred aid climbing. I remember my first trip to The Canyon was in late spring, 6 months into my climbing career. What "climb" my partner and I had chosen alludes me, all I remember was being terrified. Somewhere in one of the numerous choss filled gullies, a typical to Gallatin Canyon, I struggled up what felt as hard as 5.12 does now only to find a ledge with absolutely "nowhere" to build an anchor. In what would become a common theme to many of my adventures in the canyon, I was too scared to lead the next section of 5.5 death blocks. Slowly, over many days spent rehearsing the phrase "your gonna die", I found my place in The Canyon. The soaring fins of "boy, we'd really like to be granite" rock hold gem after gem. To most, this area would be dismissed as a crumbling pile . . . and most would be totally right to label the area as such. In one of my last days in the canyon, before moving to hell's kitchen, a massive block dislodged from a classic 5.10 nearly striking two belayers and dog. However, to my 19 year old self, the rock held the all the things a 19 years old dreams of: somewhere allowing me to accomplish incredible feats resulting in a flock of girls who'd be sooo excited to talk to me. In all honesty though, even comparing The Canyon to a babe magnet makes me feel uneasy. For someplace that has given me so much, belittling my indescribable connection to the flares, crimps, and non-existant gear is down right petty. There's a huge part of me that wants to spill the beans and the beta about all the amazing lines sandwiched between lichened covered faces and crumbling rock. My experiences on these lines have been so moving so empowering, resisting the desire to spread this joy is torture. Untimely, if I were to do so, I'd steal the very thing which cultivated my love for The Gally . . . the adventure.