We drove into the South Fork on January 26. This long valley sits on a beautiful high desert plateau and is bordered on both sides by steep cliffs up to several hundred feet high. It is mostly uninhabited except for a few large ranches.
We parked the bus at the end of the South Fork road close to the ranger station.
The valley is obviously a prime location for impressive ice climbs: steep rock bands and lots of water seeps from the slopes above. In addition, it receives very little snow, so approaches are comparatively easy (though somewhat long and steep), and avalanche danger is not an issue most of the time.
We drove around that afternoon, checking out the climbs... there weren't any! The weather was extremely dry and wayyyyy too warm. As expected, the ice conditions were horrible! We looked at Bozo's revenge, about the only real climb we could find, and planned to climb it the next day. Not so however, as it rained all night and the temperatures got even warmer (52 degrees F at 2AM!). Since the forecast was not for any significant change in the next several days, we gave up on ice climbing in Cody (for this time at least).
Hoping to find better conditions in Montana, we left for Billings at the end of the day.
What we did see in the valley is a lot of wildlife: antelope, elk, and big horn sheep. We did not, fortunately, meet the local Grizzly bear!
|The South Fork valley, looking NE (180 degree panorama).|
|A ranch at the end of the road.|
|We are really roughing it...|
|Bozo's Revenge, the rare climb fat enough to have survived the warm weather.|
|This wall would normally have 5 distinct WI5 lines.|
|Herd of antelopes.|
|Do not stress the sheep!|
|They don't look particularly stressed to me... It may not seem like it, but these are wild sheep.|