Story of how Ten Sleep got it's Indian Name

What to expect on your climbing trip

The town of Ten Sleep is currently in a dormant period, the exact opposite of the climbing in Ten Sleep. The housing boom seemed to cause quite a bit of damage. There’s two run-down looking main street blocks with some eateries and ice cream. Ten Sleep is a paradise for those looking for piece and quiet, and climbing with a very laid-back attitude. We wrote a non-climbing piece about the vibe in Ten Sleep in 2013 if you’re curious.

Read on for tips about where to stay, eat, find wifi, and more.

How long will it take to get to Ten Sleep?

The real answer is: it doesn’t matter, it’s worth the trip if you’re into sport climbing

  • Billings, MT: 3 hours
  • Jackson Hole, WY: 5 hours
  • Salt Lake City, UT: 7 hours
  • Denver, CO: 7 hours

Ten Sleep Driving Directions

Climbing & Grades

Ten Sleep canyon is filled with miles and miles of dolomite, which is similar to limestone. The rock options are, slabish steep, mostly steep, quite steep, to sometimes a bit overhanging (ie, 15 degrees overhang is the max). There are millions of pockets. Some are HUGE, some are very tiny, most are sharp. It seemed like the inverse of sport climbing at Smith Rocks.

The climbing grades seem easier than traditional crags (ie nearby Lander’s Wild Iris) and on par for “newer” crags. There are minimal climbs 5.8 and under. A number of 5.9 climbs are spread out among the many walls. You will be in heaven if you climb 5.10 and higher. There are a ridiculous amount of 5.11’s, 5.12’s and higher grades. If bolting continues as such, this crag could easily have the highest concentration of really hard climbs.

Overall, Ten Sleep has more delicate hand and footholds which means it’s often more balancy climbing. There are basically no jugs or foot ledges, although there are many pockets and small holds. The better you are at working small footholds, the easier you will find climbing at Ten Sleep.

The sharpness will eat your fingers and likely your shoes. Bring your calloused fingers and salve, and an extra pair of climbing shoes.

Bolting

Ten Sleep is generously bolted. Even some trad climbs have bolts. You can come to Ten Sleep, whether you lead 5.8 – 5.12 and have the same-spaced bolts, which is awesome for pushing your grade-level without extra runout fears.

That said, most the first bolts are pretty high, the guide book says they were made for stick clips (they’re manageable, but committing).

New bolting is currently banned as of July 19, 2019. Aaron Huey (@tensleepcanyon) reports:

As a result of the mass manufacturing debacle in Ten Sleep and the increase in impacts there, the US Forest Service will be enforcing regulations that prohibit both the manufacturing and bolting of new climbing routes in Ten Sleep Canyon.

If any individual or group is manufacturing or creating new routes with any permanent hardware including bolts, glue, manufactured hand holds; or is modifying routes through chipping or drilling new or existing holds, they will be subject to criminal fines, to include money for restitution to the impacted area.

The @bighornclimbers (BCC) has stated that they, the USFS, and the climbing community are moving forward with a plan to implement a “Dolomite Development Guideline” to which route developers must adhere to once the Climbing Management Plan is in place… The USFS has stated that the moratorium “WILL BE LIFTED upon the completion of the management plan.”

Length of Walls

There are long walls and short walls though typically the climbs are closer to a full rope (much longer than Lander’s Wild Iris climbs). A 60m rope will mostly suffice although to get all the classics you’ll need a 70m.

Weather

It’s Wyoming, which means hot for many months and then ‘effin cold and snowy. Fortunately, you can always find shady walls (and much more so in the afternoon). This means you can climb in summer and fall, but the road is closed in winter and spring.

Bonus: Since the canyon is fairly high elevation (up to 7500 feet) it’s a lot cooler than the majority of Wyoming. Climbing in July/August is totally possible in the shade. September/October are great if it doesn’t snow on you. May/June are usually wonderful.

Approach

The approaches are comically short, you could be climbing in less than 5 min from your car (park head in, not parallel!). Most walls take 10-15 minutes to get to, and if you’re willing to walk 30 minutes you will be rewarded with endless amounts of climbing and seclusion.

Attitude

Everybody is incredibly friendly, no matter what grades you climb. I was impressed with how supportive and encouraging neighboring climbers were. Perhaps this is partly because of the remoteness and knowing everybody here is definitely here to climb, or just the Old West vibe rubbing off (locals in town will wave to you when you drive by), or by the lack of seriousness imposed by the route names, you can’t help but smile and laugh.

Controversy – Manufactured Holds

Quick summary: Louie Anderson has put up hundreds of routes and many of them include chipped and glued holds. Subsequently, about 30 of these manufactured climbs have had their bolts chopped, and another 30 climbs have a red padlock installed on the first bolt. In 2019 the climbing community has been having many lively discussions about these going-ons.

If you’d like to dive into the controversy proper I recommend this Reddit post this Rock and Ice article, and this Climbing magazine article. Also, these articles from MtnThought are really good to get a sense of the Ten Sleep community (and their reaction to climbers and Louie Anderson): Bolts and Bullets and Home (a long but worthy read). Aaron Huey also posts updates (and summaries) of the current situation on his Ten Sleep Climbing Facebook page.

As of June 2019, this public flare-up has resulted in a [temporary] bolting ban.

The Best Ten Sleep Guide Book

Aaron Huey is the definitive Ten Sleep guidebook author. He’s just published his 10th edition in 2019. The older guidebooks still work wonderfully if you happen to own one (we own the 2011 edition, “Lies and Propaganda from Ten Sleep Canyon”). BUT, climbs are going up so fast, the newer guidebooks will include a lot of updates.

You can find the 2019 edition locally at nearly any business in Ten Sleep.

ten sleep 2019 guidebook
The 2019 guidebook is holographic foil wrapped with a silver gilded edge. 3D glasses are included.

Since 2016, Aaron’s guidebooks are 100% not-for-profit. All author royalties head to organizations that will replace aging anchors, build sustainable trails and belay areas, provide seasonal port-o-potties, and who will be working with land managers to develop a climbing management plan for the area.

ten sleep guidebooks
Over 20 years worth of Aaron’s guidebooks! Photo from Kickstarter.

Each guidebook is absurd. The descriptions are helpful for humor, history, essence, and number of bolts. Mostly they don’t describe climbing beta. One of the most entertaining guidebooks I’ve ever read, and I have to give Arron Huey a ton of credit for helping cultivate the most ludicrous climbing vibe around, which helps make Ten Sleep so much fun.

It seems like you can still buy the $25 Black & White Fundraiser Edition (2016) online: https://bighornclimbers.org/guidebook/.

You can still buy the 2015 Holy Ten Sleep directly from the publisher: http://extremeangles.com/?product=holy-ten-sleep-electric-koolaide-3-d-acid-test

Controversial Rakkup Online/App Guidebook

Our bias is towards buying the guidebook listed above where 100% of the profits go back to the Ten Sleep community. That said, the Rakkup guidebook is likely the most comprehensive guidebook (800 routes) as it includes many controversial manufactured routes that are not included in Aaron Huey’s guidebooks and similarly, that Mountain Project has decided to remove. The concern is that including these manufactured routes normalizes them and allows them to occur more often.

On Rakkup’s site, they mention, “Ten Sleep has been the site of some egregious route manufacturing recently and sporadically throughout the years. In order to provide each Rakkup user with the best and most accurate information, each route in the canyon will be included regardless of how it was developed.”

In 2019, you can rent the Ten Sleep guidebook for 2-months for $7.99 or buy it for $15.99 which includes a year of updates. It’s available at: https://rakkup.com/guidebooks/ten-sleep-rock-climbing/

Controversial Guidebook – Ten Sleep Climbing (2019)

In 2019 a guidebook was put out by Louie Anderson (owner of the Rock Ranch) called Ten Sleep Climbing. This guidebook is extremely controversial as many of the climbs in the guidebook were put up by Louie and include chipped and glued holds. Subsequently, about 30 of these manufactured climbs have had their bolts chopped, and another 30 climbs have a red padlock installed on the first bolt. There are estimates that at least 140 routes with manufactured holds are featured in this guide book.

The wall featured on the cover of this guide book, Funky Town, is allegedly filled with 27 manufactured routes, many of them now removed or padlocked.

You can buy this guidebook at the Rock Ranch.

Note: Due to the controversy, buying this book will likely imply that you support manufactured routes.

Where can you camp in Ten Sleep?

Along Old 16 Hwy. Stay on the low side of the canyon for easy access to town and pulloffs that only fit a couple of cars, stay on the upper side if you want more dirtbag immersion. There is also camping before the highway splits on the north side, at the fish hatchery. Free.

Map of camping in Ten Sleep

Ten Sleep Brewing Co has camping in their field, fast wifi at the brewery, $3 showers, some outlets, porta-poties outside, bathrooms inside when the brewery is open (daily until 9pm). Food trucks and live music on weekends. $4 per person (camping)

Ten Sleep Rock Ranch, has many camping options and cabins. They have wifi and outlets in the common area, a community refrigerator, microwave, and potable water, and full restrooms with toilets, sinks, mirrors, and outlets in bathhouse, $2 showers. $5 per person (camping), $65-95 (cabins)

Forest Service Camping, includes primitive toilets and water. Usually open June – August. Leigh Creek Campground is at the bottom of the canyon. Sitting Bull Campground and Lakeview Campgrounds are just off U.S. 16 at the top of the canyon. $13-15 per night per car/spot.

Ten Sleep RV Park. Showers included ($7 if you’re not staying), wifi, hook-ups, dump station, all the amenities you’d except for a camping/RV park. $23-$150 (camping – up to 8 person cabins)

Deer Haven Lodge, no camping but there are many different types of rooms available.

Showers

Pay showers can be found at the Rock Ranch ($2), Ten Sleep Brewing Co ($3), Ten Sleep Broek RV Park ($7), or Deer Haven.

Please don’t shower in the town Splash Pad or the town park public restrooms. Please avoid bathing in the river as it’s used for many things (and definitely avoid putting any soaps and shampoos, etc in it).

Grocery Stores

Ten Sleep does not have a grocery store, so stock up on your way into town.

Worland, about 25 miles away has Blair’s Market and Jon’s IGA. There’s also a specialty health store called Bee Healthy on the west end of Worland.

Where to eat in Ten Sleep?

Map of restaurants and amenities in ten sleep

Ten Sleep Brewing Co

  • Local beer
  • Food trucks and live music on weekends
  • Camping in the back

Sleepy Coyote Cafe (opened mid-2019)

  • Beer and mixed drinks
  • Burgers and salads
  • Open 11am – 10pm

Ten Sleep Saloon & Restaurant

Comfortable saloon, lots of wood, and dead animals, super friendly staff

  • Pizza and burgers a plenty, and some many fried appetizers to choose from
  • Hours: Open everyday, cooks go home at 9, but the bar stays open til you stop buying
  • The menu for Ten Sleep Saloon and Restaurant front and back
  • Some years they serve breakfast, some years they don’t

Crazy Woman Cafe

  • Pretty cheap prices ($4-$14), the food matches your typical Traditional American breakfast joint, it’s hearty and greasy.
  • Has wifi
  • Hours: Breakfast is 7am-3pm everyday but Tuesday
  • Dinner is 5pm-9pm Thurs-Sun
  • Breakfast menu front and back (from summer 2013)

Dirty Sally’s Ice Cream and Souvenir Shop

  • Old Fashioned Malts and Hard Ice Cream
  • Lots of local Wyoming hand-crafted products and souvenirs
  • Has wifi

Big Horn Bar

Imagine a stereotypical biker bar. 

  • Very dark place (minimal windows that seem to be blacked out)
  • Hours: We saw them open earlier than 3pm, but closed at 9pm like everybody else in town

2nd Street Bakery

Sadly, they closed many years ago. Sleepy Coyote Cafe & Bar has taken over the space.

Next closest town

Worland a mere 25 miles miles west, Thermopolis is one of the biggest towns around, 1 hour southwest (it also has free hot springs!)

Notable Events in Ten Sleep

Where to Find Wifi in Ten Sleep

Cheapest (no obligation to buy coffee/food) option is the Library. The wifi is on even if they’re not open. It’s also the school library so they have longer hours during school season (open til 5pm after late Aug). Summer hours are 8-1 Mon-Fri and 9-1 on Sat, closed Sunday.

Ten Sleep Brewery has fast wifi and so does the Ten Sleep Rock Ranch. Wifi is included in your stay.

Additionally, Dirty Sally’sThe Saloon, Coyote Cafe, and the Crazy Women Cafe have wifi, but they don’t feel as welcoming to a work session.

Cell Service in Ten Sleep?

In town, AT&T and Sprint had a couple of bars (no reason to believe that Verizon would differ). There is no hope of service in the canyon for any provider.

Other resources

 

If you want to know something else that isn’t listed here, write in the comments and we’ll rack our brain! Or if you have any updates, definitely let us know!

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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We’re @weighmyrack

 

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