AMBLING UP ALLENSPUR: Paradise Valley rock crags gaining popularity with climbers

Hunter D'Antuono
 Allenspur, a series of rocky crags rising out of the pines off of East River Road near the Carter’s Bridge fishing access, is just about everything for which a Livingston-area rock climber can wish.
 A number of routes are bolted up multiple facets of the rock pillars, offering climbers of varying skills levels something to grip their fingers and toes into. 
 “The accessibility is the best part of it,” said climber Ryan Rock of Livingston. “I worked till six today, and I can still get out and climb.”  
 Even a partial climb up a wall is rewarded with a vista of the Yellowstone River snaking through the Paradise Valley’s emerald fields of alfalfa, as the ambering light of evening strikes the Absarokas. 
 “You cannot beat the views up here,” Rock said. 
 Allenspur’s popularity with climbers has surged in recent years, said seasoned Livingston climber and Allenspur-regular Eric Kozera.  
 “You used to never see anyone up here even a couple of years ago,” Kozera said. 
 Kozera climbs here two to three times a week, also because of the proximity, accessibility and the view. 
 “It’s easy to feel feel like a hero here,” he said looking out over the valley.
 Kozera and Rock had to stake out spots between a couple of other parties, even on a Monday night. 
 One catch to an after-work-climb at Allenspur this time of year is the heat. The pillars, located a westward slope, bake in the direct rays of the setting sun. A big jug of water comes in handy. 
 Climbing is as much, if not more, of a mind game, as opposed to one of sheer strength. 
 The Livingston climbers said muscles will take climbers quite a long way, but faith in one’s own power is paramount. With experience comes technical prowess – the ability to “read the rock” and find even the tiniest purchases for a toe or a few fingers in what to the average person looks like a smooth slab. 
 Not unlike geckos, the pair clung to the pillar’s vertical surfaces with a seemingly flagrant disregard for gravity.
 While the rocks of Allenspur are on Bureau of Land Management land, private property must be crossed to reach them. The newest owners of the property between East River Road and the cliffs were gracious enough to permit climbers access, so long as they use the parking at the fishing access, Kozera said. 
 A well-established trail of steep, gravely switchbacks leads to the base of the pillars. A headlamp is advisable for the return trip to the car, as twilight provides the most comfortable temperatures for tough climbing. 
 “It’s always worth it,” said Kozera of an Allenspur climb, with a spreading smile. “Catch a sunset, drink a beer, yeah.”