Worried About That Gag and Dog Collar in Your Closet? Let Me Show You Something…



As I was shopping for knee-pads, I realized: I might have a problem. It was clear that I had developed an unhealthy appetite and here I was, about to feed it. The pads would allow me to wear lighter clothing and so carry on climbing wide cracks into the heat of Summer.


I fondled one of the expensive pads. It was real leather and neoprene. Clearly, the expensive pad was superior, but it would get destroyed just as fast as the cheap ones. My poor technique limited the pad’s lifetime, sure. However, the nature of my needs did too.


Because, there is a beautiful variety of wide-crack climbing. I refer to the art practiced by people like Luebben, Scarpelli, Randall, Jackson, etc., involving maneuvers like Levittaion, the Kick-Through, and the Hand/Fist Stack. The technique involves only limited insertion of the practitioner’s anatomy into the gap in the rock during any one maneuver. The movement is improbable, powerful and gymnastic.



I am incapable of such feats, and furthermore, they are not what I want. I’ll admit, I am after something to fill the hole left by separation from (relatively) easy access to ice. I want a fight. Just like some people cannot feel loved until they have had their bottom spanked, I am only truly happy with climbing when I have done something unlovely, daunting, and bloody.

It isn’t that I don’t enjoy a technical or purely physical challenge, it’s just that I want the stuff just beyond. I want to have to hold it together and be stopped, if I am stopped, by the total exhaustion of everything at my disposal.


The kind of wide crack that delivers for me, does not abide expensive knee pads. It is too abusive. You have to climb into it, and the whole trip resembles nothing more than an edentulous dog trying to chew up a bone. It is not pretty. Perhaps it is even obscene. I just can’t help it, though.


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2 thoughts on “Worried About That Gag and Dog Collar in Your Closet? Let Me Show You Something…

  1. Lukic says:

    Do you have any approach beta for leaning tree in Clarks Fork? I saw that you posted some pictures on line.


    • keithnoback says:

      Head out of Cody like you are going to Cooke City. Pretend that you can get there via HWY 212.
      Follow 212 as it climbs up the west side of the Clarks Fork valley. As you look uphill to the West, you will eventually catch sight of three prominent granite summits. On the road, almost directly below those towers, is a pair of turnouts, one on each side of the road. These are the only paired turn outs on the road. Park in one of them and walk to the end of the guard rail in the turn out on the E side of the road. Usually, you can pick up a boot track there. If not, trend downhill and skier’s right and descend the right side of the first streambed that you reach until you reach a meadow (note power lines overhead). Bear left through the meadow and slightly downhill until you get to a large drainage. Descend the right bank of the drainage (steep) to the Clarks Fork.
      Walk downstream, and cross to the far bank whenever it looks feasible. All this is faith-based. You cannot see the climbs or even the river until you are almost upon them. On the plus-side, if you get lost, walk downhill. You will cliff out eventually, and when you do go left and you will hit the drainage eventually.
      P.S. – Bring snowshoes, even if there is a boot track.
      P.P.S. – Confirm the approach beta with Mr. Mulkey if you can. Aaron’s directions are sometimes vague, but usually helpful if you give him something to work with.
      P.P.P.S. – Lost Dutchmen is worth it, even the postholing.

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