Indian Creek! What is IC? It is hard, sunny, sandy pure crack climbing. You won’t find jugs, crimps or normal hand holds at the Creek. Never ending splitters of all sizes guaranteed to have at least one stretch of your worst size. There are off-with pods, threatening fist cracks and my personal nemesis the ever dreaded finger stacks. We had a small crew of three for this trip with quite the assortment of body types and hand sizes. From Lizzy’s tiny fingers to Lucasz’s immense height. I sat in the middle with average proportions but evidently smaller that normal hands for a guy. This was funny though because even my pinky has a bigger diameter than Lizzy’s biggest finger, excluding her thumb. Here hands were so small that she would often have to jam up to her elbows on my “hand” cracks.
Lucasz was the only person that we could recruit to come and visit IC. To many a crack climbing Mecca just has too much crack climbing. The climbing was a new style to all of us and we had a big learning curve with the smooth and parallel cracks. The climbs were relentless between 80 and 160 feet in length and usually dead vertical. Our first day held one of my most memorable climbs. Big Guy, one of the easier offwidths at the Creek was to be my training for future punishment in the big sizes. I had my full assortment of large cams that I had been collecting for such a challenge. The climbing was super strenuous once I got out of the fist jams. I was able to get really good hand stacks but without having a knee in it was impossible to make progress. After 50 feet of struggling I gave in and hung on the rope the effort instantly overwhelmed me and I hung there for 20 minutes fighting the urge to hurl. About 5 feet of struggling later I was able to get my knee in but got it promptly got it stuck and had to hang on a cam and wiggle it out. After putting my left knee in the crack I was able to work through the hand stacks into the hand fist stacks and eventually got to the anchor. What an experience I had no idea how much effort offwidths take!
Indian creek offers all sizes of cracks from super thin tips jamming to the gaping offwidths. A person’s hand size can greatly affect the difficulty of a climb. Lizzy would climb most of the small cracks, I would get the hand cracks and Lucasz tackled many large hand climbs. Above Lizzy warms up for her attempt of Digital Readout. This super thin climb, featured below, ranks in at around 12b making it the hardest thing Lizzy has ever lead!! She cruised the initial thin fingers section before getting super pumped and losing a ton of skin on the off fingers middle. It’s funny to say that the middle is off fingers for her since it is yellow alien/TCU with a few bigger pods in the grey alien range which were perfect finger locks for me. The start, that Lizzy cruised, started at blue alien, and widened to green alien at the first roof. This was my crux and I was lunging between pinky locks to get off the ground. It was quite intense until I could get the first foot hold and finally get my fingers into the crack at the roof. I need to go back and try and lead it and I know Lizzy would love to redpoint it with a bit more skin.After watching Paralleljams for Return 2 Sender and cruising around MP.com we made a tick list and tried to do a bunch of the classics. On my birthday, the 23rd, I got on Think Pink. It was an easy corner up to a steep hand crack. Or at least I thought it was a hand crack from the video I had seen of Jim Donini climbing it. He climbed it easily and made it look super fun and secure. Well he sure sand bagged me as I got up to the steep section to find that my #2 camalots were quite tipped out and I would be placing tight #3′s. This made it too small for fist jams so I had a long battle with lots of grunting while learning how to do steep cupped hands. I managed to send first go and it was super nice when the top section narrowed back down to #2′s. I was really pumped and it was another big fight!
Lucasz flew up the climb on TR and came back later in the trip and lead it first try! Damn those big hands!!
We took a half rest day to get food and water in Moab and then headed out to Way Rambo. Below Lizzy is starting up Slice and Dice. This climb is super hard for us big handed folks who have to finger stack in the sharp crack. She cruised up the initial moves but a blood blister under a toe prevented any more thin foot jams so she had to back off. I am sure that next time Lizzy will fly up this.
At the Cat Wall I ended up donating a bunch of skin and blood to Johnny Cat. This beautiful off fingers (.5 camalot) has feet for three quarters of the route and has a nice rest in the middle. I learned how to do ring locks and got within 10 feet of the anchors on my onsight. This last section has five or six hard moves on bad off finger locks with only the crack for feet. You are unable to place gear but luckily get a good foot for clipping the chains. After a few efforts I was able to get through the last feet to the chains. After a rest I gave it another lead go but was stopped short at the top again. While I was not nearly as pumped as my onsight go I was unable to get my locks to stick. I later realized my hands were out of sequence which due to the slight offset of the crack made left jams very difficult.After the Cat Wall got too hot we went to the Reservoir wall where I lead the new wider Slot Machine and Pente. Slot Machine was quite an endurance test at 160 feet and it was super tiring. Lizzy made it through the first half of Pente before running out of gear and having me finish the lead. It was fun but not quite as classic as I expected. I thought the Incredible Hand crack, which we had lead the day prior was much more fun.
After taking a much needed rest day we headed to Broken Tooth. There were a ton of cars in the parking lot but they were all at the Fin which is quite close. We had a great day and shared the main three splitters with a two guys from Colorado, Hayden and Johan. First I lead Rock Lobster which was super cruiser until the last 20 feet where it turned from thin hands into the dreaded finger stacks. Unable to trust my feet I took on the gear before finally trusting the gear and punching it to the anchors. While Lizzy and Lucasz top roped Rock Lobster Hayden gave me a ride on their TR of Polygrip.Polygrip, seen in the photo above is a 3 part climb with a no hands rest after the first part. I was able to do it first try on TR and it was super fun. A section of offset poddy thin hands leads to the rest followed by an excellent perfect fingers corner. There is a bad rest before the crux off fingers roof. Once over the roof you luckily get a nice rest pod and then with a few more moves an almost no hands rest before the final spring to the anchors. I tried to lead this climb later in the day but ran out gas before the roof. The roof proved much more difficult to do on lead. Lucasz lead an unnamed long hand crack to the left of the main wall. It was pretty weird and had an exciting layback finish. We finished the day by Top roping the Inflictor. No one was able to climb it clean due to a tricky crux and a pumpy finish that was off fingers for Lizzy. On our last day we went to two different crags to tick our last few climbs we wanted to do. Above I am onsighting Scarface which was super fun. A few hard moves off the ground led to thin hands which became perfect hands where I am in the picture.
Lizzy red pointed Scarface, above, and then we moved to Battle of the Bulge Buttress so she could try Swedin-Ringle again. She did well on her onsight go making it 15 feet below the anchors. On our last day she did a bit better besting her high point by one more cam! I was able to TR the route clean first try and then did it again mock lead style placing gear. I think next time I will try to lead it! Swedin-Ringle is in both of the photos below. We also did a bunch of other climbs besides the ones featured in the pictures. Highlights were Disco Machine Gun, Supercrack, and Way Rambo. Everyone learned a ton and we want to go back for sure. I struggled a bunch with my lead head. I was really pushing my physical limit trad climbing 5.11 and 11+ and was scared to try anything 5.12 trad. After doing a bunch of 5.12 cracks clean on TR I knew that I had the power and the skill and that if I could increase my endurance to place the gear I should try to lead 5.12 next time we go to the creek!
For more pictures go to Picasa online.