Old Guard

I’m behind on posting, but not for lack of adventure.  A week ago I was in Jackson, WY- fighting a nasty cold, loving some time with my lovely lady, and catching up with one of my Denali partners via a foot of Freshiez off of WYO 22.

Getting our fix at the Teton Ice Park.

Getting our fix at the Teton Ice Park.

Top of Glory, reasonable name...

Bryan @ Top of Glory, reasonable name…

"No officer, we are not hitch-hiking."

“No officer, we are not hitch-hiking.”

This weekend I’m in Bozeman for much of the same.  Despite not ice climbing much this year, this afternoon I was able to tick a line that has inspired me since my second ever trip to Hyalite in 2009. The Sceptre gets WI5 in the guidebook, but at this point in the season it climbs like a stiff grade 4.  I felt really fortunate to share the beautiful weather yesterday with two wonderful climbers (one of whom I had known only by reputation)- thanks to Marko and Echo for being such strong and inspiring partners.

Sceptre is in fat...

Sceptre is in fat. (Photo: Echo Oak)

Top out stoke.

Top out stoke. (Photo Echo Oak)

Burning laps.

Echo, burning laps.

The Scepter is adjacent to The Mummy II, which makes for a nice warmup.  The title though relates to one of the coolest parts of my Saturday.  I’m warming up on top-rope in the foreground, but in the back you can see The Sceptre- with someone else climbing on it.  I had noticed two older gentlemen and a younger guy approach the climb before I left the ground and I assumed the younger guy would lead it.  I should have known better- there is an old guard in Hyalite, guys who have lived and climbed here for over 40 years.  They are responsible for most of the established climbs, most of the mentorship, and most of the special energy and spirit that this place has.

In good company.

In good company.

I had only heard of Pat Callis from guidebook descriptions, but those guidebook descriptions credit him with first ascents as early as 1973.  Pat was out climbing yesterday, I’m guessing he is in his mid-60s, and leading The Sceptre as confidently as most people his age discuss bond investments or board a flight to Paris.  He was also mentoring the younger man in his party, as I’m sure Pat has done for countless other Montana climbers.  I found the climbing challenging and wasn’t entirely sure I’d finish things cleanly.  Climbing is a beautiful equalizer, and also equally accessible- if you want to do it, take care of your body, and are humble enough to learn- there are very few limits on what you can accomplish.  The climbing community in Montana is riddled with the old guard, and I’m privileged to be around them.

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