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Game On! New Ice Route Climbed in Wyoming

This marks one of the earliest starts to steep mountain ice in the past few years

Photo by: Aaron Mulkey

Aaron Mulkey, Dane Steadman and Natalie Afonina have climbed a new three pitch ice/mixed route called Shooting Gallery in the Beartooth Mountains of Wyoming. It’s likely the first new winter route of the season.

“It took a full day to clean the route and bolt the sections that needed it,” said top American ice climber Mulkey. “It bacilly follows a 60-metre mixed corner to a small snow ledge and then the second pitch drives up a open book fold with ice down the spine of book fold into a roof and then you traverse out the side of the rood into another corner system.”

Mulkey is one of the most accomplished new-routers when it comes to recent winter development. “The next pitch typically has some ice in it as well but when we did it the ice had already melted since it does get some evening light,” he said.

“That pitch is really fun with some mellow dry tooling to the top. The whole route was 130 metres.”

Steadman said, “After an incredible summer of rock climbing on some of the great walls of the wild mountains of the western U.S., I’m back in Cody, and yesterday, Sept. 10, I climbed waterfall ice. That’s a full two and a half months earlier than my previous personal record. What an incredible place.”

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When it comes to the grade? “For the record, I hate giving grades to climbs as you will see in my Instagram posts,” said Mulkey in an interview with us in 2018 here.

“Many of these routes have not been repeated so I prefer to sandbag my ratings a bit until someone repeats them. At the end of the day I feel like ratings are more about peoples egos than the actual climb so I typically choose not to give them grades.”

During the same talk, we asked Mulkey how he keeps the new-route motivation so high?

He said: “I love chasing new routes, its really the main thing that keeps me going. The unknown factor is probably what I like the most, its hard to get worked up over a route or sandbagged when you have no idea what you’re going to get into. Its incredibly fulfilling to climb something that has never been climbed before. There are so many objectives I have looked at for years that need a lot of time and effort put into them to climb.

“In some cases It takes multiple days to put these routes up. You hike in a couple miles, then climb a few pitches and gain a few thousand feet elevation and then you get to your project. You really have to commit to the time and energy it takes to get these routes put up.

“There is a sick love/hate relationship with the whole process, but once I send the route all the suffering is forgotten. Then to see other people go and climb the routes I have put up is perhaps even more fulfilling.”

Watch Mulkey’s crazy “figure-five” at the Colorado Springs City Rock. While falling, he saves himself when his foot catches the ice tool.

The Funky Catch

Lead photo: Aaron Mulkey