Dawn Glanc’s in Wyoming and South Dakota
[Limestone climbing in the middle of nowhere. Pat Ormond photo]
In late May 2013, my husband Patrick Ormond and I headed out with our two dogs for a three-week limestone sport climbing trip. We were seeking European quality limestone here in the United States. We had to look no further than Ten Sleep, Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota. The two destinations seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but we knew that they were both hidden gems.
[Dawn Glanc climbing Babacool. Pat Ormond photo.]
Our first stop was Ten Sleep Canyon, Wyoming. We quickly drove through the bustling metropolis of Ten Sleep, population 260, to access the canyon. As we drove up the canyon, our jaws dropped. The quantity of Bighorn Dolomite formations were overwhelming. There was rock up the entire canyon, on both sides of the canyon, for as far as I could see. I knew then that the two days of driving would all be worth it. The weather did not quite cooperate with us in Ten Sleep. We had rain the first day and then dark threatening skies and cold temps the following days. My minimum temperature threshold for rock climbing was met a few times. Puffy coats and skirts were mandatory for me. Despite the terrible forecasts and less than ideal conditions, Pat and I managed to climb 7 days straight. The rock and the climbing were so incredible that we could not give up one of our days to resting. We were still sending even on day seven. On day 8 we made ourselves move on to South Dakota. It was hard to leave this mecca of climbing.
[Dawn Glanc back home in South Dakota. Pat Ormond photo.]
As we drove toward the Black Hills my psyche really grew. The Black Hills hold a special place in my heart, it is my climbing home. I moved to South Dakota in 1996, and I learned to rock and ice climb there. I matured as a climber in the hills, and I could not wait to get back to my climbing roots. Our first stop was the southern Black Hills so that our fingers could rest. We spent two days with one of my best climbing partners ever. It was great to get a personal tour from local legend Mr. Ron Yahne. Each day we climbed intriguing, high quality routes to challenge our crystal pinching abilities. It is amazing the way easy grades with minimal bolts can get one's attention. It was great to get lost in the sea of crystals and feel completely at home.
[One of the best climbing partners ever, Mr. Ron Yahne.]
After just a few days in the Southern Hills, Pat and I headed to the Northern Hills to continue our limestone quest and climb in Spearfish Canyon. The pocketed, stellar, blue streaked limestone was calling us. The rock in the canyon was abundant and climbing was unbelievable. The temperatures were perfect and we felt like rich kids in a candy store. The rain chased us out of Spearfish, so we headed to Victoria Canyon, outside of Rapid City, to climb steeper walls. The "VC" as it is known, was also mind blowing. Each day we climbed from morning to night, soaking in as much climbing as we could. Pat and I had three awesome weeks traveling and climbing through Cowboy country. We definitely found the quality limestone that we were looking for. Ten Sleep was amazing, but I feel that my love is still in the Black Hills. Its not just the vast amount of rock to climb in the hills that keeps me coming back. It is the people and the climbing community that I love. I will just have to find a way to head back to this place I hold so dear.
[Mike Cronin hand-drilling a new route in Custer State Park.]