A Quick Trip to Cody, Wyoming for Ice Climbing

Back in the fall season, I scored some cheap tickets for a flight to Denver, and made plans to connect with my buddy Jon Jugenheimer for a week of ice climbing in Cody, Wyoming. February 1st came fast, and before i knew it I was waiting at the Denver airport to be picked up, only to drive straight through the night to Wyoming. We made it to our motel room right around 2:30am MT, or 4:30am EST, which was the time I was still on!

Joining us for the first few days was Dave Rone, who is an old school crusher, and still as strong as ever. With the sun on our backs, we climbed the three pitches of Main Vein.

Jon and I got a full nights rest that evening, which was helpful, as the next day we linked up with Aaron Mulkey, a pro athlete who calls Cody home, and has a history of developing hard mixed routes and searching out FAs in the nooks and crannies of the South Fork. I have an appreciation for anyone who can take long hikes in search of new adventures, so I was psyched to spend the day getting after it with him.

The four of us made our way, with a long approach taking us to the base of Bitches Brew. Of course we made a few stops along the way for photos. Even though I wanted this to be more of a climbing trip than a work trip, I know a good photo op when I see it.

We climbed the approach pitch to the money section of Bitches Brew, and it was an awesome looking pillar, with some nearby drips that Aaron had been developing as mixed routes. I decided to put the tools away for the afternoon and focused mostly on getting some media content, a sacrifice that I have to make sometimes with what I do, but that’s part of the gig. Now that I’ve been to this area and seen the goods, I’m excited to come back, so this just feeds the fire.

The next day it was just Jon and I, and we climbed Moonrise and High on Boulder. Temps were getting a bit colder, but oddly enough at the top of the climbs it was noticeably warmer than at the base! There was some kind of odd temperature inversion going on. High on Boulder was an awesome pitch of ice! We encountered another party as were finishing up, so instead of going for another lap, we retreated back to town.

The temps dropped out the next day, and it was below zero when we woke up. Hoping for a temperature inversion again, we convinced ourselves that it would be warmer up high, so we loaded up and set our sights on Icefest. We had seen it from the road with binoculars, and the start looked a bit spicy to say the least. About a 90 minute approach hike took us to the base, where we could see what we were in for.

 Photo by @wilkinsonvisual - www.wilkinsonvisual.com

Jon led off, but things didn’t work in our favor this day. The temps hadn’t warmed at all, so the ice was brittle and our hands were cold. Upon reaching a section of steep, rotten ice, we decided it wasn’t worth trying to climb on, so we bailed.

The next day we drove out of the South Fork in search of warmer temps for climbing hard, but we ended up just going for a drive that day. The temperature never really went above freezing.

It was so cold in fact, that the next day we couldn’t get our vehicle to start. We spent the entire day trying to get it running with no luck until late in the afternoon. At that point we called it– Jon split for Bozeman while I packed up for my flight out the next morning back to Kentucky! In all it was a short trip, but gave me just enough of a taste to make me want to come back and explore more climbing out there! As with the Tetons, the approaches are long, but the climbing and position are well worth it.