Turkey Day in Indian Creek

26 12 2009

Back in March, Lizzy and I decided the next time we went to the Creek we wanted to go with friends. Our trip had been awesome, but there is something about spending time with good company in such a beautiful place like Indian Creek. Over the week of Thanksgiving, we climbed with many people and ran into others multiple times throughout the week. To make logistics possible, I drove out with Konstantin and Lin while Lizzy drove from the bay with Sarah Kate.

The trip went amazingly well for me from the first climb to the last and I am very happy with how far my climbing has come in the last year and a half. I was able to redpoint many of the climbs I had top roped my first trip to Indian creek in 2008 and sent a ton of other four star routes.

Luke is getting quite pumped on Mad Dog. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Unlike March, where we focused on easy routes and exploring new areas, this trip was about sending projects and pushing ourselves to failure. When toying with the edge of your fitness and mental space, failure can actually be very important. In a trend that I have been working on recently, I fell on gear and kept trying as hard as I could until the end. I saw fitness gains and had my most productive trip thus far. I climbed at least one route that I wanted each day and some day saw two or three exciting sends.

Luke is really excited the crack is finally getting bigger. Photo by Andre Kiryanov


Luke poses under Pit Bull Terror. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Its interesting to figure out what feels hard especially as you go through the many different sizes. A harder finger crack can be quite powerful but feel much more secure than ringlocks of the same grade. The list below is of all the routes 5.11 and harder I did over this trip. I wanted to write this down and put an order to the climbs to note what felt harder so I can look back upon this in the future.  The grades in IC are totally subjective due to people’s fitness, skill set and the size of their hands. When you break into 5.11 and above the routes will demand odd size jamming and can often be quite continuous which requires good endurance and the ability to recover.

  1. Three Strikes You’re Out 5.11a/b Onsight
  2. Our Piece of the Real Estate 5.11a/b Redpoint
  3. Twitch 5.11b – TR Flash
  4. Mantel Illness 5.11b Flash
  5. Pit Bull Terror 5.11b/c  Redpoint
  6. Sicilian 5.11c Onsight
  7. Bachelor Party 5.11c Onsight
  8. Johnny Cat 5.11c Redpoint
  9. King Cat 5.11c   Two hangs
  10. Coyne Crack 5.11c/d Flash
  11. Mad Dog 5.11c/d Flash
  12. Layaway Plan 5.11d TR Flash
  13. Way Rambo 5.11d/12a Repoint
  14. Annunaki 5.11d/12a Onsight/Flash
  15. Quarter of a Man 5.11d/12a One hang
  16. Swedin-Ringle 5.12a Redpoint
  17. Cat Burglar 5.12a/b Redpoint
  18. Way of the Gun 5.12b/c – TR hangdog
  19. Digital Readout 5.12 b/c Redpoint

Luke gives Pit Bull Terror another burn. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

The two hardest routes were both finger cracks, which is fitting since that is my favorite/strongest size. It is fun to learn more about finger stacks (about a .75 camalot for me) and learn to do thin hands. I ranged from pumped on Coyne Crack, to very pumped on Mad Dog, to terminally pumped on Quarter of a Man.  Most of the trip I was able to manage my pump and really only ran out of juice on Quarter of a Man. Since I did so well I know that I will have to start trying harder cracks in the future. On this trip, Digital Readout seemed much harder than the other routes I tried and the only route I actually felt improvement on. For me the difficulty came from the poor feet and the insecure jams at the end rather than the pump of the climb. I found Cat Burglar to be easier but more pumpy since there is no midway rest. I could have done it first try if not for the pump factor. Digital Readout, on the other hand, required me to really pull hard, trust my feet, and commit.

Luke feels a bit beat up after Pit Bull Terror Photo by Andre Kiryanov

On the mental side of things I had a really good trip. On Johnny Cat I have to gun for the anchors to get through the bad size. There was a moment where I looked down at the cams below my feet and just smiled. I took falls on gear twice, both unexpectedly and the falls were clean. I still need to figure out how to push my self when the climbing is hard or insecure since I was a bit worried about falling before I finally peeled on Quarter of a Man and this lead to much wasted energy.

Enjoy the Photos!

- Luke

Sarah Kate onsights Soulfire

Lizzy enjoys some red Camalot hand jams on her redpoint of Soulfire Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Lizzy slots a cam near the finish of Soulfire Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke warms up on Long Island Iced Tea. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke makes a few final hard moves on Annunaki Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke has the anchors in sight on his flash of Annunaki Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke on his way to an terminal pump on Quarter of a Man.

Andre redpointing Mantel Illness

Andre gets ready for some cruxy face climbing on Mantel Illness

Leah finds a pre-crux rest on Mantel Illness

Lizzy starts up Way of the Gun

Lizzy gets ready to pull the roof on Way of the Gun.

Konstantin pulls the roof on King Cat.

Lizzy works through a hard section of green Camalots on Mad Dog.





Holiday News update!

14 12 2009

Things have been a bit slow here at DreamInVertical over the last month or so. Life has been exceptionally busy and the climbing trips have been plentiful.

We are pretty behind on trip reports and hopefully many will get finished over this holiday season. I finally completed writing my reflections and trip report from my first attempt on Freerider and, thanks to editing from Lizzy, it just went live. It’s a bit long, but hopefully a good read.  As the year comes to an end, Lizzy just finished up her first quarter of grad school and I am in the process of changing jobs and moving to the Sunnyvale/Palo Alto area.  Things are chaotic and I expect to get back to a more normal schedule come January  or February.

Luke enjoys a lap on Gunsmoke.  Photo thanks to RockGrrl

Back in November Lizzy and I attended the 1st annual #jtreetweetup. It was very cool to meet the many people that we chatted with online and help show them around Joshua Tree. Hopefully Lizzy or I will be writing a post from the trip soon. The highlight for Lizzy was a send of Gunsmoke! This has been a long time project and she has gotten quite close in the past. This trip she aced both cruxes and had enough endurance to finish it off. I was psyched to do a bit of exploring around the park in the mornings before meeting up with the Tweetup crew and found a new project. The Acid Crack features powerful thin fingerlocks to a core intensive face climbing section once the crack pinches down to tips. I worked the line twice on top rope and was able to figure out all but once section. This climb is steep and my style and I look forward to going back to it once I get a bit stronger.

Lizzy on Gunsmoke

Over Thanksgiving break Lizzy and I went out to Indian Creek with a bunch friends. We meet up with people from all over and had a blast with amazing weather. Lizzy just finished her post and  I will be writing about our trip soon too, since we both climbed exceptionally well. Definitely check out some of our photos here or even better ones from our friend Andre.

One highlight of the trip for me was seeing Matt Segal and Jason Kruk working on a new route at Battle of the Bugle. On our last day while driving past Battle of the Bulge we saw a few camera men above the project. We pulled over and saw Matt climb the last 15 feet or so and clip the chains for the first ascent. It was awesome to watch these guys work on this climb over the many days we were at the Battle of the Bulge. This new age line uses tricky face sequence to connect thin cracks with infrequent gear.

Like A Prayer by Renan Ozturk

On a final note, we have added a few new pages to DreamInVertical. First came our Gear Review section to allow people to more easily find our Sweet Gear reviews. As well the new Multi-Pitch Route Beta page has links to topos and trip reports from many of the classic multipitch and alpine routes we have done. This page is a work in progress so feel free to leave comments if there is something missing or some additional beta that could be added to future trip reports.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season,

Luke





A Week of Splitters in Indian Creek

8 12 2009

There are many things that are awesome about Stanford. One of these many awesome-tastic features is the fact that we get an entire week off for Thanksgiving. At Caltech, we only got Thursday and Friday off, and most professors considered it a normal week of school when scheduling work for the week. We decided to take advantage of this awesome opportunity to head to Indian Creek for a week of excellent desert splitters.

Day -1 (Friday): Travel Day

Sarah Kate and I set off from Palo Alto around 2pm. After getting stuck in some traffic and losing over 2 hours because of a little snow over Donner Pass, we made it to Winnemucca, NV at around 11pm and passed out in a Motel 6. Meanwhile, Luke, Konstantin, and Lindsey had left San Diego around 6pm and were driving through the night so they could get some climbing in on Saturday.

Day 0 (Saturday): Travel Day / Cat Wall

Sarah Kate and I rolled out of bed at 5:45am and were on I-80 heading east by 5:55am. It was good that the speed limit was 75mph, because we had a lot of distance to cover to make it to the Creek by dinner time.

Meanwhile, the San Diego crew was just rolling in to Moab when we were leaving Winnemucca. Even if Sarah Kate and I had driven through the night, we would not have been in Moab yet. We were glad we stopped to sleep. Luke, Konstantin, and Lindsey drove out to the Creek, set up camp, and headed to the Cat Wall to get some pitches in. Luke sent Johnny Cat (5.11+), one of his former projects, as a warm-up. They also got on Mad Dog (5.11+) and Pitbull Terror (5.11). Luke took a (rare) lead fall on gear when a foothold broke unexpectedly on Pitbull Terror.

Luke flashes Mad Dog (5.11+). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

After a rushed water fill-up/gas fill-up/grocery trip in town, Sarah Kate and I managed to make it out to the Creek Pasture by about 7pm to find a crackling fire and three hungry climbers. We had excellent beer sausages for dinner. Sarah Kate and I were again happy that we had stopped to sleep on our drive out based on how tired the crazy drive-through-the-night folks were already.

Luke about to whip on Pitbull Terror (5.11). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Day 1 (Sunday): Optimator / Battle of the Bulge

From our previous trips to the Creek, Luke and I have learned that it’s good to start slow. Manage skin, get used to climbing splitters, get comfortable with your cam sizes. We had decided that Optimator was a good place to go for Sarah Kate’s and my first day. There was one sweet route there for Sarah Kate and Lindsey to try to onsight and me to get some revenge on – Soulfire (5.11-). I’d pumped out just before the anchor before…

Lizzy watches Luke on Long Island Iced Tea (5.10+). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

We got on Lady Pillar (5.10-) and Long Island Iced Tea (5.10+) for warm-ups. Sarah Kate, Luke, and I headed over to Soulfire, while Konstantin racked up for Annunaki (5.12-). Sarah Kate onsighted Soulfire, a great start for her Indian Creek trip! Then I got my revenge redpoint, feeling relaxed and unpumped the whole time, which really helped my confidence for the trip. Lindsey also onsighted the route (she hadn’t watched either of us climb it).

Lizzy sends Soulfire (5.11-). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Meanwhile, Konstantin took some falls on Annunaki, but made it to the anchor. After watching me on Soulfire, Luke headed back over for a flash attempt, which was successful, for Luke’s hardest Indian Creek flash!

Lindsey onsights Soulfire (5.11-). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke and I walked over to the base of Optimator (5.13-) and found two dudes toproping it, which was pretty awesome. Optimator is definitely a route I’d like to get on eventually, although I know I’m nowhere near ready for it yet (long very tight hands and stacks). It was cool to watch someone on it, though.

Luke sends Annunaki (5.12-). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

After sending Soulfire, I was pretty much out of motivation for routes at Optimator and Luke and Sarah Kate agreed to go with me to Battle of the Bulge so I could get on Swedin-Ringle (5.12-), which, as you may remember, was one of my projects on both of our previous Indian Creek trips. It was a very low stress situation, since I still had plenty of days to send, so even though I fell, I felt much stronger and actually climbed through all the moves to the anchor (rather than cam-jugging the last couple feet, which I had done before). Then it was Luke’s turn to redpoint (he had lead it on my gear before), so he racked up and sent! He was happy to go second so that the quickdraws would already be hanging from the anchors. :)

Day 2 (Monday): Battle of the Bulge

After our warm-up day(s), it was time to go to Battle of the Bulge to get on some projects. We headed over to The Warmup (5.9 sandbag) to warm up. Luke, Sarah Kate, and Lindsey all sent Our Piece of the Real Estate (5.11-), but I needed to conserve energy. I racked up with the small cams and headed over to Digital Readout (5.12) with Luke. I had been on this route once before, on our first trip to the Creek, and had struggled a lot. I surprised myself and made it to about 3 feet below the anchor, where the footholds disappeared. I tried to figure out a sequence, but my feet slipped and I was off. After a short rest and the discovery of a very small face foothold, I got back on and easily reached the anchor. I was frustrated and exhausted when I got back to the ground, but in retrospect, it was pretty awesome to be so close to sending a 5.12 on only my 2nd try… I tend to be kind of hard on myself.

Luke closing in on the anchors of Digital Readout (5.12). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke got on the route next and fell a lot, struggling with the thin jams and tricky feet. Later, he got on for a 2nd time and nearly sent, getting just a little below where I had fallen on my attempt (so frustrating). We were both pretty tired by then. It took me probably 3+ hours to feel recovered enough to climb again…

Meanwhile, Lindsey tried The Jane Fonda Total Body Workout (5.11-, probably sandbag), managing to work out the chimney with some takes and figuring out the gear and size beta for the long upper crack. Konstantin took a TR lap on Big Baby (5.11), which Sarah Kate’s friend Dave had put up. Luke and I took a break to watch Andre and Leah working on Ruby’s Cafe (5.13-).

After I’d finally recovered from Digital Readout, I wasn’t very psyched on getting back on it, so I decided to try to onsight Quarter of a Man (5.11++). I knew it was a long, sustained route (35m+), so I hadn’t tried it on previous trips because I’d known I didn’t have the endurance. But, I was feeling strong this time, so I went for it. The crack was smaller than I’d expected – mostly sustained black Metolius cams (all the red Camalots were very tight) and there were not many rests. I focused on moving forward and not wasting energy. I had expected the top section, where the crack zigzags steeply, to be the crux, but luckily it was not – there were stem stances and layback jugs, which were great after the long sustained corner. In no time I was clipping the anchor – tying with Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d) for my hardest onsight!

Lizzy on the final section of Quarter of a Man (5.11++).

I gave Luke the beta and he set off on his flash go. The crack had felt tight for me, so it must have felt even smaller for him. He tried pretty hard, but fell just before the rest pod. A little rest and he sent to the top – it’ll go next time! Then Sarah Kate got on the route. I’d rounded up a total of 5 black Metolius cams from our gear and our friends’ gear so she’d have better pro for the route. Even though she didn’t quite have the endurance to send the route, she stuck with it, climbed every move, and even took a big whipper on a green Camalot near the end – a very proud effort.

Sarah Kate on Quarter of a Man (5.11++).

The sun had gone down while Sarah Kate was on the route, so it was time to head back to camp for dinner and campfire sitting.

Day 3 (Tuesday): Scarface

Scarface (5.11-), Wavy Gravy (5.10-), and Mantel Illness (5.11) were on various people’s to-do lists, so we headed to Scarface. Lindsey and I warmed up on Unknown 5.9 to the left of Wavy Gravy, while Luke, Konstantin, and Sarah Kate got on Wavy Gravy. Lindsey also sent Wavy Gravy after warming up. I was feeling pretty tired and not psyched about leading it (or TRing it, because I like leading anything that’s not a warm-up at the Creek – it’s good for me mentally), so I abstained. Andre, Leah, and Luke all sent Mantle Illness and Sarah Kate, Lindsey, and Konstantin headed over to get in line for Scarface.

Luke sends Wavy Gravy (5.10-).

Meanwhile, I had scoped out a thin crack corner called Way of the Gun (5.12) and wanted to go for it. I made it through the initial corner (easier than I’d thought) and the roof, but took when I realized I didn’t have the right rack for the corner after the roof. I got more cams from the ground support crew, which was good because, although it was short, the upper corner was definitely the crux, with some very sport-y climbing (i.e. not straight-up jamming). Leah and Luke both toproped the route, having more success on the upper section (they are much stronger crimpers than me) than I did.

Lindsey on Scarface (5.11-). Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke had belayed Andre on Twitch! (5.11), which he and Leah also TRed. We all headed over to Scarface to check on the other group’s progress. Sarah Kate had sent first try, Lindsey was in the process of sending after many falls at the beginning, and Konstantin sent soon after. Success! While Scarface was being sent, Luke onsighted the Sicilian (5.11), a short, fierce off-fingers crack.

At this point, everyone was starting to feel ready for a rest day, so we called it a day and headed back to camp.

Day 4 (Wednesday): Rest Day

It had been 3 days on for Sarah Kate and I and 4 days on for the San Diego crew, so it was time for a break. Luke got up early to go put an anchor on an unclimbed crack we had spotted on our last trip and the rest of us rolled out of our tents a little later and directly into Lindsey’s car. We had delicious breakfast at the Diner in Moab, then amazing showers at the Texaco, then some chai, internet, and sandwiches at the Love Muffin.

The Love Muffin closed early (2pm – winter hours) and Sarah Kate and I still had more work to do (this whole 1st year grad student thing…) so we headed to the Moab Library. In case you haven’t been there, the Moab Library is awesome. It is an excellent place to do work (if the Love Muffin is closed).

After a quick grocery store run, we headed to the Moab Brewery for some dinner and beers, then back to the Creek Pasture to sit around the fire a bit. It was an excellent rest day.

Day 5 (Thanksgiving): Battle of the Bulge

The post-rest day plan was to return to Battle of the Bulge to get back on some projects with renewed energy and the built-up endurance of the first couple days of climbing. We warmed up on Railroad Tracks (5.10-) and Unnamed 5.10-, then went straight to projecting. I checked out Christmas Tree (5.12+) and was totally inspired, but not totally confident I had the guns for the steep upper layback corner (the first half looked not so bad). So I decided to devote my energy for the day to some more attainable goals.

Lizzy chalks from a fingerstack on Swedin-Ringle (5.12-).

Konstantin wanted to try Swedin-Ringle, but let me go first so he could check out my beta. First, Luke onsighted Three Strikes You’re Out (5.11) with my camera on his harness so he could take photos. Thanks Luke! I felt really smooth and relaxed, solid even on the stacks, but my foot slipped unexpectedly when I was adjusting a cam out of a foot pod. I got right back on and easily sent to the anchor. I was frustrated, but also felt like the route was very attainable on the next try. Konstantin got on the route and essentially learned to stack as he went. He was obviously trying pretty hard and took some sweet falls that involved me (the belayer) flying into the air.

Konstantin trying hard on Swedin-Ringle (5.12-).

When Konstantin lowered off, I got right back on the route and, with only a little bit of struggling at the grey alien section (my worst crack size), sent the route – my first 5.12! It felt great to send, on only my 8th time on the route (all attempts on lead, which I am very proud of) and for most of the route to feel so smooth and relaxed. I’d even say I might use it as an intermediate warm-up for other 5.12s in the area in the future (yes, it is that fun).

Meanwhile, Lindsey had gone over to get back on her project, The Jane Fonda Total Body Workout . Although she made progress and climbed higher than her first attempt, exhaustion and pump took over and she had to take. I’m sure it was a valiant effort, because she was exhausted for the rest of the day. Afterwards, Sarah Kate (who had belayed) came back over to the Swedin-Ringle area and flashed Three Strikes You’re Out, her first solid 5.11 at the Creek.

Sarah Kate flashes Three Strikes You’re Out (5.11).

Luke and I then headed over to Digital Readout so he could have another redpoint go. He felt much more solid than on his previous tries and clipped the chains, for his first solid Indian Creek 5.12.

I had thought about getting on Digital Readout, but remembered how draining it had been on my other try. I really wanted to get back on Coyne Crack (5.11+), so I decided to try that first and leave Digital Readout for a later time (or day… or trip). Luke headed over to Supercrack Buttress with us ladies and we congregated below the base of Coyne Crack. Although it had been a busy day at the Battle of the Bulge/Donnelly/Supercrack area, I don’t think Coyne Crack had seen an ascent all day. That was about to change :)

I was FULL of psyche, so I convinced everyone else to let me go first (I guess they like to have my beta…). The initial crack felt WAY easier than when I had gotten on it on our first trip. I was able to get very thin hand jams from the very beginning (probably because I was much stronger on this trip) and quickly made it to the money section (which is most of the route) of red Camalots forever. IT WAS SO GOOD. I was a little sad when it ended. Sarah Kate flashed for her hardest trad lead ever! Yay! Luke also flashed, with a bit more struggling than the rest of us due to his larger hand size. Lindsey also got on, but ended up taking a couple times, being still tired from doing Jane Fonda in the morning.

Sarah Kate flashes Coyne Crack (5.11+).

It had been a great day of climbing and I would’ve kept going, but it was starting to get dark and we had Thanksgiving dinner to make. Together with food from Bob and Heather, we had a fantastic Thanksgiving meal, complete with mashed potatoes (real), stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and chicken cooked in the fire. Somehow everything was ready at the same time, but I guess that’s just the magic of Thanksgiving.

Day 6 (Friday): Cat Wall

We headed back to the Cat Wall. Luke and Konstantin wanted to try King Cat (5.11+) and Sarah Kate and I had been told that we should try Mad Dog (5.11+). After warming up on Unnamed 5.10 and Cat Man Do (5.10), we headed over towards Johnny Cat to get on the projects of the day.

Konstantin on King Cat (5.11+).

Luke and Konstantin both made valiant efforts on King Cat, but had trouble figuring out the beta for pulling the roof. I tried to onsight Mad Dog, but got pumped for essentially the first time all trip (while climbing, at least) and fell. After resting and unpumping, I sent the rest of the route cleanly, but my psyche and energy were pretty much gone for the day. Sarah Kate and Lindsey both got on the route afterwards and struggled with the tight green camalots, but eventually made it to the top also. A project for all of us for another trip to the Creek.

Lizzy on her onsight attempt on Mad Dog (5.11+).

Luke tried to onsight Cat Burglar (5.12) and fell just short of the anchor, but sent on his 2nd try for another Indian Creek 5.12! Luke ended the day with an onsight of Bachelor Party (5.11+).

I discovered a potential pre-Christmas Tree project in this vicinity, too: Cathedral of the Mad Feline (5.12+), a steep Lisa Gnade tips corner. It was gorgeous and would definitely be good training for the steep section on Christmas Tree.

Day 7 (Saturday): Way Rambo / Travel Day

Everyone was starting to feel pretty tired and we’d heard forecasts for rain and other bad weather coming in on Saturday afternoon, so we decided to pack up camp in the morning, go climbing, then start driving home whenever we got tired or it started raining. Bob wanted to go to Way Rambo to work on Slice and Dice (5.12), so we decided to go there, too. Luke and Konstantin were psyched on Way Rambo (5.12-) and I was considering trying to onsight Layaway Plan (5.11+).

Luke getting sucked into Way Nutter (5.9 OW).

We got on Blue Sun (5.10-) as a warm-up, while Luke and Sarah Kate also did Way Nutter (5.9 OW). Lindsey had brought a fleece Mickey Mouse Christmas themed onesy, so she wanted to do some climbing in it before we left. So she lead Blue Sun in the onesy, which was pretty awesome to watch.

Lindsey climbs Blue Sun (5.10-) in the onesy.

After warming up and checking out Layaway Plan, I decided to go for it even though I was deeply intimidated by the roof. Everything went pretty well until just before the roof, when my foot slipped off a sandy foothold – no onsight. Even though the pressure was off, I was still worried about pulling the lip of the roof, the crux. I placed my gear, transitioned into the undercling and, with much effort, pulled around the roof. The rope drag was awful on the last couple feet, but luckily there were good stances. An awesome route! Luke followed to clean my gear.

Lizzy underclings out the roof on Layaway Plan (5.11+).

Konstantin got on Way Rambo, but took several falls at the beginning of the stacks section, and lowered down off two cams so Luke could have a try. Despite feeling tired (on his 7th day of climbing at the Creek), Luke sent first try!

Luke sends Way Rambo (5.12-).

Meanwhile, Sarah Kate and Lindsey had both taken TR laps on Slice and Dice and we watched a dude flash it with beautiful style – very inspiring. Everyone was pretty tired by this point, so we decided to call it a day (it was already 4pm anyways) and load into the cars to head home.

Luke, Sarah Kate, and I drove into Moab to enjoy some dinner at Zax before driving north to Salt Lake City and finding a motel for the night, happy to have cut several hours off our driving time for Sunday.

Day 8 (Sunday): Travel Day

We had a pretty uneventful travel day driving from SLC to Palo Alto. There was barely any traffic, which was awesome (especially compared to the post-Thanksgiving Vegas-LA traffic). We took a little break in Reno to check out the Patagonia Outlet, which was pretty cool even though the prices weren’t quite low enough for me and most styles I actually liked weren’t in my size. Luke got lucky with a couple shirts and pairs of pants, though.

Reflections

This was by far the best trip Luke and I have had at the Creek. We came into the trip feeling strong, started slow, conserved skin, and tried really hard (at least I was super comfortable pushing and falling from above gear by the end of the trip, I don’t know about Luke, but he did take a couple falls, too). It was awesome to finally have some success (and some near success). Sending Coyne Crack and Swedin-Ringle and onsighting Quarter of a Man were really big accomplishments for me and I’m super happy. Coming so close to onsighting two other 5.11+ routes (1 fall each on Mad Dog and Layaway Plan) isn’t so bad, either. Too bad it’s not Squamish season, because I’d love to take my strength and confidence onto some of my projects there.

For more photos, check out our Picasa Indian Creek gallery.





Indian Creek 101 – Cragging and Gear Beta

16 06 2009

Lizzy and I are from SoCal and by no means Indian Creek locals. However a love for crack climbing has brought us to the creek for a wonderful week of climbing each of the last two years. Over these 15 days spent at the creek we have gained a bit of information that could be helpful to first timers. This is by no means a complete resource but a similar to CragReviews and TripBeta seen on other blogs. If anyone has other useful information please post up a comment. I will be doing a follow up post on good rest days around Moab, UT sometime in the next few weeks (though it took me almost 3 months to finish this post…).

indian-creek-march-09-006

Sorting cams before going to IC.

Gear

To say that climbing at Indian Creek is gear intensive really misses the point.  The lengthy pitches, eighty to over one hundred and seventy feet, in addition to the the splitter nature of the cracks, require an immense number of cams. We have a pretty large rack by most standards, with at least five or six cams in each size, but we still need to borrow more. So before heading to IC, find as many friends as you can and plead with them to borrow all their cams. Most cracks are dead vertical and do not wander negating the need for quickdraws or slings. Also, the parallel nature of the cracks almost completely eliminates the use of nuts. There are exceptions to both of these rules and beyond hints from the guidebook you will often be able to tell from the ground if you need nuts or slings.  At a minimum you will always want at least 2 quickdraws or a sling since most of the climbs have a bolted anchor.

In 2008 our rack consisted of  four or five of each cam between Lizzy and I and we ended up borrowing around ten more of each size from friends. It was nice to have fifteen of each size but it was really overkill and heavy to boot. There are definitely climbs at Indian Creek that require ten or more cams of single size , such as Bunny Slope, Steve Carruther’s Memorial, and Christmas Tree but for the most most cracks have some variety so you only need six to eight cams of each size. For example, on the classic Supercrack you would bring a few small cams for the start and then around three #2’s, six #3’s and one or two cams in the #3.5 or #4 camalot range. According to the Bloom guide: (1)1.5 (1)2.0 (1)2.5  (2)3.0 (5)3.5

Once you work out having a bin full of cams you need to figure out how the different brands overlap. In a place like Indian Creek, where you have every size of crack, it can be beneficial to own different brands. Sadly our cam of choice, the camalot, does not quite fill all the sizes and in certain cracks the lobes become too tight or tipped out.  We do not have this issue in the smaller sizes since we own many different brands of cams.  The Bloom guidebook attempts to list approximate crack size in inches that directly correlates to the size of Wild Country Friends.  Ill try to do my best to portray our experience with the cams we have used at Indian Creek.

Cam Sizes

Size,   Size according to Bloom/Size in Inches,    Cams listed smallest to largest per that size

Sub Tips 0.10 000 C3, Ballnuts
Tips 0.20 00 C3, Black Alien, 00 Grey TCU, Ballnuts
Tips/Thin Fingers 0.30 0 C3. Blue Alien, 0 Purple Tcu, .2 MicroCamalot
Tight Fingers 0.50 Blue Tcu/Master cam,  Green Alien,  .3 MicroCamalot
Fingers 0.75 Yellow Alien, 2 Yellow Tcu/Mastercam, 2 C3, Grey Alien
Off-Fingers 1.00 Grey Alien, 3 Orange Tcu/Mastercam, .5 Purple Camalot, Red Alien
Stacks/ Thin Hands 1.50 4 Red Master Cam, .75 Green Camalot, 5 Black Master/Power Cam
Thin hands/ Tight hands 2.00 5 Black Master/Power Cam, 1 Red Camalot
Hands 2.50 2 Yellow Camalot, 3 Purple Friend
Wide Hands 3.00 3 Purple Friend, 8 Purple Power Cam, 3 Blue Camalot
Fists 3.50 3 Blue camalot. 3.5 (old) Grey Camalot
Fists/ Off Fists 4.00 3.5 (old) Grey Camalot, 4 Grey Camalot
Offwidth > 4.5 4 (old) Purple Camalot, 5 Purple camalot on up.

So in the chart above I listed few cams in multiple sections which is because of the lack of sub increments in the Bloom guide in the upper sizes.  A 2.5″ crack will fit a #2 camalot perfectly but as that crack approaches 3″ there is a size where it is useful to have a #3 Friend or an 8 Purple Power Cam before you can get in a bomber #3 Camalot. This size is usually labeled 3.0 in the book but sometimes a #3 camalot will fit in a “3.0” crack. The same is true of the Black Master/Power cam which nicely fits in between a .75 camalot and 1.0 camalot. We usually use #1 Camalots when we see 2.0 in the book despite the fact that #1 camalots are closer to 2.25. So if you see a large number of cams in 2.5 and 3.0 or 1.5 and 2.0 it can be good to have one of the previously mentioned in between pieces.

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Gotta have the crash pad for days in Big Bend.

Taping

So there is a lot of ranting about taping your hands when crack climbing. While some attribute tape to aid, others won’t climb without it. In many ways crack climbing can be painful as you torque your hand to fit in a crack since there is no hold to grasp and pull down on. Attempting to fill this void and get your digits to stick can be assisted by tape since it lessens the pain and in some cases makes it easier. Tape can easily change the size of your hands or fingers to allow them to better fit a specific size crack. As well taping helps reduce the amount of wear on your skin and often allows you to twist harder.  The skin on the backs of your hands is important since practically every move of every climb of every day is a jam.  Some may find exceptions with the occasional lay back or face hold but the reason people come to Indian Creek from around the world is the jamming.

For thin hand cracks I usually avoid tape since I need to sink as much of my hand in the crack as possible. However having a few layers of tape or a tape glove can make a hand crack much nicer. The same is true for fist and off-width climbing where tape is essential to the survival of your skin. Tape does allow a climber to be sloppy with their jams and can take away ones feel of the rock. I will tape my index finger and middle finger when doing finger stacks and ring locks to preserve my skin but I tend to climb finger cracks tape free.

At Indian Creek it seems best to start off with too much tape to save your skin while you hone your technique. As one gets more acquainted with each crack size you can decide if taping necessary.

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Lizzy tapes up before the off-fingers Puma.

Shoes!!

The most important part of your shoes is that they allow your toes to lay flat. Tight, knuckle curling shoes with thin fabric should be left at home. Since you will repeatedly be jamming your feet you want your toes to be in a flat position allowing the shoe to get as far in the crack as possible. If you have stronger feet  and are climbing a smaller crack, I would suggest the Mocasyms.  I wear these shoes when climbing anything thin hands or smaller. I prefer a stiffer shoe such as the Sportiva Barracuda for larger cracks. I haven’t gotten Lizzy hooked on the Mocasysms yet so she generally wears her Miura for everything small and Barracudas for hand cracks [yeah, and that's because Miuras are still the most awesome all-around climbing shoe ever made. period. oh, and also, I only wear La Sportiva. ~Lizzy].

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My moc’s with a bit of Stealth Paint.

One of my experiments for this year was a helping of Stealth pain on my shoes. I was interesting in this product after seeing it on Ethan’s blog. Lizzy picked me up a package at the Five-Ten outlet in Redlands, CA and the night before we left I tried my best to coat my shoes. The kit includes a metal container of ground up bits of Stealth Rubber, a tube of Barge cement and some plastic applicators. I was hoping for a tube of pre-mixed stealth goo but to no avail. I mixed 2 spoonful of glue and 1 spoons of rubber in a disposable bowl. This instantly made a mess and the glue and bits of rubber were hard to mix into a spreadable substance. I mixed in more glue and tried to apply the rubber to my shoes. This did not work and the rubber moved around and did not stick. I applied a base layer of barge cement to the mocs to make sure the surface was nice and sticky and tried again. This worked much better and i was able to get a thick layer of rubber on my shoes. I still had extra rubber (from the 1st spoonful) which I applied to a second pair of mocs without the base layer of barge cement.

The fairly thick rubber on the first pair stayed on through the week of climbing at indian creek. Small holes did rip  as seen above but for the most part I was successful. However the second pair, with out the extra glue, quickly lost the rubber that I had applied. When I try this process again I plan on adding glue to the shoe and then sprinkling the stealth rubber dust directly on the shoe instead of mixing in a bowl. I think this will let me apply a finer layer and it should spread more easily.

Overall I have a got mixed impressions from the application process however once the Stealth Paint was on my shoes I was quite happy. Check out these reviews for proper application techniques.

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Find the Lizard!?! There are at least 10 in this photo.

Weather.

Both of our visits have been in March and we have experienced a range of weather from snow to shirtless climbing. Around Moab the sun is bright and the wind can be quite chilling. It is fairly easy to chase either sun or shade since there are so many different crags at Indian Creek. If there is snow on the ground don’t expect the climbing to be pleasant in the shade. We found this out while trying to warm up on the far left side of battle of the bulge. We were wearing all our layers and were cold in the wind and shade while others were climbing shirtless around just around the corner.

Some crags, such as the Cat Wall have south-facing areas that trap the heat and can feel like an oven. It is best to figure out what time of year you are going before putting together a tick list. It seems that it can get hot as soon as April as you can see in a TR from when some of our friends went in 2008. While the fall and early spring seem like the best temps, many climbers chase the shade all the way through May and into the start of June.

Since all of the rock at IC is sandstone climbing must be avoided at all costs post rain. The rock wears easily due to it’s soft nature and water speeds up this process ten fold. The day it snowed we took a chance to explore some of the mountain bike trails around Moab. This was a fun alternative that was a good adventure despite a chilly breeze.


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MOOOO!  Cows are one of the major inhabitants of the creek :-D

Wildlife

The main non-climbing use of the Indian Creek area is as a cow pasture. Negotiations with the local ranchers are done though the Friends of Indian Creek and the Access Fund. Since many of the crags are accessed through the ranch land make sure to do your part and close all cattle gates. It is important to keep good relations and pay attention to closures both due to the ranchers and bird nesting in the area.

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Why does the deer cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off!

So far we have seen deer on every part of the the 211 from the exit off the 191 all the way past Newspaper rock to the bathroom at Beef Basin Road. Do be careful driving since the deer are often out in herds and are not afraid to cross the road right in front of your vehicle.  Perhaps this is a Utah thing, since we saw herds of deer every day when we drove from Orangeville to the various areas of Joe’s Valley. We think that maybe they need to replace the “Frequent Deer Crossings” signs with something a bit more applicable like “Frequent Deer Herds”.

Food, Water, and Waste

There is no running water or gas stations within 30+ miles of Indian Creek. The closest small town,  Monticello is about 15 miles south of the 211 – 191 intersection or about 30 miles away from the Beef Basin parking lot. Moab is a bit farther away at 40 miles north of the 211 – 191 junction and 55 miles from Beef Basin. Moab has numerous gas stations, a large grocery store, City Market, and many gear shops such as Pagan Mountaineering and GearHeads.

The desert around Moab and Indian Creek is fragile and proper waste disposal is necessary. It is not ok to just dig a hole where ever one chooses. I use paper grocery bags that are cut to about 4 inches tall which allows them to fold closed easily. After doing one’s business simply add some kitty litter deodorizer and put in a ziplock bag. This is a cheap way to make a WAG bag which is used in the video below.  Taking a little bit of extra time to dispose of waste properly helps keep Indian Creek beautiful for years to come!

Have a safe trip!

Luke





Jamming in Paradise, a week in Indian Creek

27 03 2009

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Lizzy on our 13 hour driving day to Utah

Last year we went to Indian Creek with a plan and a Tick list.  We had looked online and at the 1st edition of the Bloom guide and came up with 27 classics  at 11 different crags.  These climbs were our main objective and we were not “interested” in doing much else.  We  managed to get on more than half of these selected classics and at least 13 were either sent on lead or top rope by one of us.  This was an interesting approach but added unneeded pressure and while limiting our exploration to the creek. In 2009 Lizzy and I decided to eschew the ticklist and try to climb as many routes as possible at crags we had never been to hopefully finding some of IC’s hidden gems.
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Enjoying the Utah scenery and the 75 MPH speed limits!

This year we also decided to come two weeks earlier which meant colder weather, forcing us to to chase the sun. The weather was not a big concern since the previous March we had to leave the Cat wall since it was too hot.  The drive to Moab took about 12 hours from  San Diego with plenty of gas stops and the mandatory visit to The Orange Peel in Saint George for bubble tea. We rolled through the creek just after dark and headed for the Creek Pasture campground at the far end of the 211 past the Super Bowl (which is often quite dusty). We saw only one other group and happily snagged a “site” with a picnic table. Having a normal table was a big improvement from the  make shift  knee height table we used in 2008. Being able to cook standing up and keep the stoves and food out of the sand is a really nice creature comfort.

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Getting ready to lead the first route of our 2009 IC trip!

Our first day we wanted to keep things easy so we headed to the Original Meet wall for a hearty helping of 5.10. By starting on easy climbs we could get some fitness and have both Lizzy and I lead the routes. I started on Ladies First, seen above, did Wee Doggie which was super fun and then hit Tofu before lunch. These three routes were all 5.10- but definitely varied in difficulty. I had an eye opening moment on Tofu, which was described as off-fingers, when I was run out above my tipped out .75 wondering if it would be safer to keep going at least another 8 feet to where the crack thinned down or if i should jump… I kept it together and laybacked to safety and learned that I should be more careful with my gear selection. At times the guidebook suggests and incomplete rack and it can be safer to bring a few extra cams.

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A potential Indian Creek FA

The climbing was pretty spread out at the Original Meat wall but the one advantage is the potential for First Ascents! On our way to the far right side of the cliff to do Wee Doggie I stumbled across the gem pictured above. The line is obvious but very thin and I am sure that it should be at least 5.12. There was no chalk, no anchor and the first foot hold was a piece of loose rock that could easily be removed.  If I had my drill and some bolts I would have aided it and sunk in an anchor that day. For better or worse I am going to have to wait until at least Thanksgiving before going back and trying it. I don’t know why it hasn’t been climbed other than that it may be a bit slabby for some people’s preference. As well it is thin but with all the pods in the middle it seems doable.

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A very excited Luke at the thought of doing the First Ascent!

After climbing a fun unnamed corner that,  unknown to us at the time,  was on our 2008 ticklist we made the long walk to the Sacred Cow wall. From the book it seemed that it would not be to far but it took us at least 15 to 25 mins to reach Fatted Calf. This climb was supposed to be the Scarface of the Sacred Cow wall and since I enjoy thin hands I wanted to gave it a burn. It was my hardest climb of the day at 11- and I struggled at the start but managed to hang on as the crack widened to #2 camalots. Unlike Scarface the crack thinned back down to #1’s at the top and made me fight for my onsight. There was small horizontal at the anchor that allowed me to tap some of my unused crimping strength to clip the anchor. A gem of a climb for sure and my first 5.11 onsight of the trip!!

indiancreek-march09070Hanging out in the sun at the Origonal Meat Wall !

We spent the morning of day two at the Optimator. We warmed up on Lady Pillar which was fun and simple and then did a tricky unnamed twin crack before I went on to lead Hayduke Lives. Hayduke was very fun and involved a karate kick move to get established in a wide hands crack. I channeled Didier a la  From Switzerland with Love made the move and onsighted the route.  Lizzy was up next and got very close to an onsight of Soul Fire falling just short of the anchors. I managed to pull of a flash but was pretty pumped by the end. This route was hands to tight hands with a bit of stemming in the middle. It was pretty splitter and Lizzy and I both placed seven!! red camalots.

indiancreek-march09074Lizzy before her attempt at Soul Fire 11-.

In the afternoon we stopped by Donnelly canyon to do the classic Generic Crack. True to it’s popular nature there were people on the route and funny to see other parties after our quiet morning. We did Binou’s Crack to wait for the other party to finish and then I onsighted the classy 120′ hand crack.  It was super fun and amazingly consistent in size with some tricky sections through some larger pods. After Lizzy top roped Generic I gave it another burn to use up all my energy before our rest day.

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Looking across at the Cat and Reservoir walls from the Optimator

Monday night would be our first night in the luxurious yurt and the timing was perfect. A storm rolled thorough Utah  and deposited 8 inches of snow outside our door step and 4 inches in Indian Creek. Tuesday was our rest day so the timing of the snow was not too bad.  After a long night of feeding the wood stove to stay warm it was nice to sleep in before going to Moab.

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Luke tends the stove to stay warm in the snow storm!

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Luke gets ready to drive to Moab.

After shoveling a bit of snow we got the rav out on the un-tracked road and started our snowy drive to Moab. I had heard good things about mountain biking in Moab so I was excited to take a rest day and rent some bikes. Lizzy and I had a bunch of fun riding around despite pretty chilly weather and were happy to let our skin recover from all the jamming.

indiancreek-march09099Getting ready to make some fresh tracks with the Rav

Our second night in the yurt was not as windy and it was super easy to cook and clean with a large propane stove and a water jug fed sink. Best of all the huge bed allowed us to fully recover from our long days of climbing.  I surely slept well and enjoyed having a bit of comfort.  The Yurt has a solar panel allowing us to turn on lights at night and there is a detached bathroom.

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Lizzy looks happy to be staying in a bed at the Yurt.

Our first day back after resting we went to the Cat Wall. We had previously visited the far right side of the wall but hadn’t gotten past Johnny Cat. This time we approached via the left trail and worked our way right. We had a chilly morning but things warmed up fast when the sun hit the wall. After a ok unnamed 5.10 warmup I hopped on Deseret Moon. I wasn’t ready for the 11+ start and skirted around the crux on sketchy loose blocks. It took me a bunch of time to figure out the best way to go up and I had Lizzy pass me a 3.5 camalot to protect the wide moves on this alternate start. I was trying not to place gear to avoid rope drag and spent way too much time getting freaked out.

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8 inches of fluffy snow outside the yurt.

The upper part of Deseret Moon was amazing and one of the more memorable climbs of the trip. It started off with off fingers to thin hand lay backing with some tricky foot work on a twin crack to the right. The difficulty eased once I could get thin hand jams and the crack widened to #2’s forever.  Confident with my hand crack skills from doing Generic Crack I ran it out savoring the wavy wall and the perfect size. I managed the onsight but will need to go back for a proper send via the direct start. The Cat wall is home to so many hard climbs and Lizzy was psyched to try the thin Puma. It was rated 11+ in our book but the 12- plaque gave Lizzy a few butterflies. She had a great lead falling a few times at the crux before making it to the top. I was even more impressed by her performance when I struggled with the start that was off-fingers for ME. I hung twice at the crux and then finished the climb.   We moved on to Kool Cat which and struggled since I was trying to jam the off fingers crack straight in. Lizzy showed me the beta when she one falled the crack on top rope, easily laybacking between the good stances.  I know that next trip should yield a redpoint for both of us.

indiancreek-march09144Lizzy on the crux direct start of Deseret Moon

On Thursday we were expecting rain and decided at the last minute to go to the creek instead of climbing in Moab.  This worked out amazingly well and we had our best day yet at Pistol Whipped.  I got a bit confused with the directions and the first few routes we did were chilly in the morning shade. Lizzy and both lead Short and Stupid 5.8+ and then I did Skid Marks 5.10 which she followed. I decided to get my layback on and climbed Revenge of the Rock Gods 5.10+ which was super fun and forced me to place gear while laybacking. It looked like the storm was coming so I made Lizzy wait to each lunch while I tried Spaghetti Western. I had read on Mountain Project that this was an amazing steep hand crack and I was hoping for an onsight. Luckily it was a bit thinner than Think Pink and I made good progress through the initial steep bulge, smartly placing gear at my waist instead above my head. The top was still tricky and I wished I had a bit more gear as I slowly funked my way to the top. The weather cleared up and after lunch Lizzy onsighted Coyne Crack simulator 11- and I barely eked out a flash.  Next I did Wounded Knee 10+ which was fun but I would suggest having a #4 or 4.5 to protect the cruxy offwidth move. There was still plenty of daylight so we did a bit walking around and stumbled on the climb in the photo below.

indiancreek-march09164Lizzy below Rump Roast II 5.11 after her onsight!

Lizzy got super excited by the description of thin hand and (5) 1.5 which are tight thin hands for Lizzy. She pre-visualized the sections and thought the climb would be doable. It looked hard to me and was excited to have Lizzy ropegun the pitch. The start was a bit harder than it looked but in no time she was at a good rest below the final crack. She slotted some gear, worked through the jams and clipped the anchors!!! Rump Roast II was her first 5.11 onsight of the trip and one of her hardest sends to date. I top roped the climb, happy not to be worrying about placing gear in the .75 sized camalot crack and then cooled down with one more hand crack.

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The yurt was complete with a stove, sink and couch!

Thursday night was our last night in the yurt and the next morning we packed up camp and headed into Moab for our final rest day.  After all our shopping and some fun bouldering at Big Bend we headed back to the creek to grab a campsite for our final nights. The creek pasture was a bit more crowded but we still managed to find a site with a shaky table and passed out after our long day. Saturday was initially going to be Lizzy’s Birthday Challenge but we decided to keep things mellow and take the chance to work on Swedin-Ringle. We knew Battle of the Bulge would be crowded so we got up early and started on the far left side of the wall. This was a bit of a mistake as we froze on our warm up, Pigs in Space 10+, since it was in the shade.  A plus was that we were able to rap down and set up a top rope on Cold Corner 5.11+.   This climb, which started directly to the right of pigs in space, had two bolts protecting some tricky laybacking to some hard moves in to a flare. I was able to flash it on TR and would like to come back and lead it. The moves after the 2nd bolt were quite desperate and my cold fingers didn’t make things easier.

indiancreek-march09139Looking out from the Cat Wall.

We both rested and warmed up in the sun on a large rock before getting on Crack Attack 11-. Our timing was perfect since I was just ready to climb as anther party came over to try the route. A year before we had tried to climb Crack Attack and it had been occupied. While the business was the pumpy thin hands crack at the end I struggled the most on the the start since the gear was less than ideal ( I was missing a #4.5 and a second #3 camalot). We moved back to the main part of the crag and were instantly HOT.  Everything around the corner to the left of Disco Machine Gun was super cold but around the Big Baby and Our Piece of the Real estate we had T-Shirt weather.

I was resting up and getting psyched for my main goal of the day, an onsight of Ruins crack. This changing corners finger crack looked super fun and had been too intimidating for me to lead the year before. The start was hard and after a nice rest the business began with some more laybacking until the crack thinned down to green aliens and then pinched out. After making the “crux” switch the the right crack and moving up a bit higher  I was greeted with a nice rest and could see the crack widen to hands.  After my brief recovery I cruised the sandy tight hand crack to the top and happily clipped the chains!

indian-creek-march-08-430The gorgeous Swedin-Ringle 5.12- (photo from 2008)

Lizzy’s main goal was to give Swedin-Ringle a good redpoint burn. She had gotten close falling 8 feet from the anchors on two different attempts the previous trip and had saved up enough skin for one effort this year. We figure out gear beta and Lizzy set off easily climbing the start and getting in to the meat of the crack. She got higher and higher and I could tell she was closing in on her bad size. After the last .75, a purple .5 Camalot when in and I knew Lizzy must be struggling.  .5’s meant fingerstacks for Lizzy’s small fingers and she had another couple feet before the crack thinned down.   Another few moves and she was off.  Another effort from her high point allowed her to slide her cam higher and get in a grey alien. Still a few feet shy of the anchors she was beat and  after a few tries lowered off, cleaning one of her cams.  I wanted to take the easy way out and got ready to lead the route with all of Lizzy’s gear preplaced. I adjusted a few cams and really struggled at the top. As I worked my fingers into the thin locks next to the chains my left foot was shaking in the thin crack. I reached blindly and grabbed a quickdraw from my harness and clipped it to the chains. But when I looked it was a cam, not a draw that was hanging from the anchors. I was being punished for my poor style I thought as I switched my jams and tried to shake out. I grabbed again and this time got a draw and got it onto the chains, instantly having to switch to a lower lock to shake out yet again. I worked my fingers back into the high left jam and grabbed the rope and brought it to the quickdraw just barely getting it into the gate before being overwhelmed by pump. I slumped on the rope happy for the send yet frustrated by the desperate finale.

With this final climb Lizzy and I were both tired and ready to go home. We still had plenty of sun but thought it would be better to get back to California. We packed up the tent and bee lined for Saint George.  After a nice night in a motel we saw the VRG up close and then made it back San Diego ready to give our skin some rest. This year we took it easy and didn’t put ourselves under as much pressure yet overall we both climbed more routes and onsighted at or near our limits. We are already thinking of going back and hope to make time in November to return with friends and do Turkey Day at the creek.

I will be writing another gear beta post on the creek as well as some information about what to do on rest days. This year I had a bunch of fun being in Moab on our rest days and I want to share that great experience.  I am sure that Lizzy will also have some thoughts about the climbing as well as some more thoughts about trying hard routes.

Cheers,

Luke





Recovering from Indian Creek

16 03 2009

Lizzy an I are back in SoCal after a wonderful week in the Utah Desert. We really had a fun time at Indian Creek and hanging out in Moab.  I’ll get into more details nd write a proper Trip Report once we get some photos downloaded later this week.

We got back yesterday after an uneventful drive from St. George, where we had stayed the night after driving 6 hours from Moab. Sunday morning we hiked up to the Mentor cave at  VRG to scope out the climbing for a future trip.  It wasn’t too cold to climb in the shade but it was a bit windy and a poofy might be advisable for belaying.  The limestone looked super featured and the climbing seemed STEEP! I would be psyched to do some bolt clipping in the future.

We should have a bunch of posts up later this month as we recover and get back in the writing mode. I will be finishing up a TR of my brief Red Rocks trip and  Lizzy has gotten a chance to play with many of her climbing toys and should be posting some of the gear reviews she mentioned before.

In online news Lizzy and I can now be found on Twitter.  I am still a bit overwhelmed/confused by the whole group messaging status reporting bit. However I think it is a quite effective networking tool and am impressed by how many people are online and the overall friendly nature of Twitter. Lizzy has hit the ground running and is updating like crazy :-D

To give my fingers a bit more time to recover I will be running a trail race this weekend. I opted for a shorter race, 15k versus my last one of 25k, so that I can work on my speed. It’s local to San Diego which should be fun so I may be running with some of my co-workers. Hopefully I can run part of the course later this week for training.

It is nice to return to the same climbing bubble despite checking out from reality for a week.  Sharma is in good shape and on the verge of sending another 5.15 and Kevin Jorgeson has done another highball FA. I look forward to reading various trip reports and updates as I catch up on the 400+ blog posts that I missed while we were away.

Cheers,

Luke

PS It’s Lizzy’s Birthday Today! WAHOOOO!





Getting Ready for Indian Creek!

4 03 2009

Luke and I are still a little shell-shocked that it’s March already. This is historically my busiest, most ridiculous month. This month, I’m turning 21, hosting the Banff Film Festival on the Caltech campus, going on a trip to Hawaii on the Geology department’s bill, heading to visit Stanford, and going to Indian Creek. Also I have to write a final paper for my Gothic Fiction class and get down to business on my research so I have enough stuff to write about in my thesis.

That said, I think it’s understandable that our Indian Creek trip has totally snuck up on us. It used to be months away and now we’re leaving on Saturday morning with much less build-up and pre-trip preparation than last year (although I don’t think I’m really actually in any worse shape than I was last year). Now that we’ve got one Indian Creek trip under our belt, we’re adjusting our strategy a little.

For example, I had the silly useless running boards taken off my RAV4 so save a little weight and a little ground clearance. Also, we’re going to do shorter driving shifts on the 11 hour journey so that we won’t get as tired. We’re going to stay in a yurt for a couple of nights and not camp at the Super (Dust) Bowl campground. We’re going to try out the bouldering and mountain biking on our two (not one, which is insufficient for skin recovery) rest days. And we’re going to do this trip with a cragging approach rather than a projecting approach so we can climb more routes and be less stressed out about sending all the classics. Oh, we’re also not going to drive back through Arizona via I-40 because damn, was it windy.

Also, we’re still planning on attempting my 21-routes-in-a-day birthday challenge on March 14th, although we are still without any volunteers to come cheer or set up topropes on that day.

Yay splitters!





Lizzy’s Birthday Challenge

10 02 2009

So, Luke and I are planning to head to Indian Creek for the 2nd week of March (yay!). And my 21st birthday is coming up soon – March 16th – just a day or two after we will return from IC. I’ve been thinking about doing a Birthday Challenge for a while and this last weekend we came up with a great idea. I was not super stoked about climbing 21 routes in a day at any of our local climbing areas. Let’s face it, there aren’t really 21 routes that I would want to do with reasonable proximity to each other at most of these areas.indian-creek-march-08-062

Working on Digital Readout (5.12)

Instead, I’ll be doing my birthday challenge at Indian Creek! The idea will be to climb 21 routes in a day, probably on our last day. While I hope to lead some of the routes, I will also be following some.

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Trying not to get pumped on Scarface (5.11-)

But I need your help! Any suggestions of areas to go that will not be too crowded (we won’t be able to afford to wait to climb a pitch) and have plenty of not-too-hard routes (mostly 5.10-5.11) would be great. Cliffs in the sun would be a bonus, too.

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Getting up there on Swedin-Ringle (5.12-)

Also, we could probably use a couple of climbing buddies on the day to help lead routes for me to follow or just cheer me on. So if you’ll be in IC around March 14th and are interested in helping me out, let me know!

~Lizzy





Setbacks and Optimism

14 01 2009

It’s now been twelve days since I injured my chest from coughing. It still hurts. Despite the advice of the campus nurse (although her advice wasn’t that great – she recommended elevating and compressing my chest muscle – what?!?!) I decided to try exercising through my injury last week. This involved jogging slowly for 2.5 miles on Thursday and climbing some easy routes (5.9-10c) in Red Rocks over the weekend. The result was a dramatic increase in pain.

Thanks to Wikipedia, check out the intercostal muscles.

I guess I’ve learned my lesson. It’s so hard to not be able to run or climb, what with two really awesome and motivating trips in the next 6 months (Indian Creek in March and Smith Rock + Squamish in June/July).

However, I’ve been slowly discovering things I can do that don’t aggravate my injury. For example, I can work out individual muscles in the weight room on campus because isolating a particular muscle means my intercostal muscles don’t get used. I think (although I haven’t tried) that I can ride my bike, although not aggressively, and I’m planning on starting to swim (again, not aggressively) next week.

My goal is to really get back into climbing and training a lot, in addition to starting to run again because I have some big plans for the next month. Despite not having a tick list for myself for 2009, I must admit that I have at least two routes that I really want to do this year. They are both at Smith Rock, and one is kind of the warm-up for the other.

The first route is Pure Palm (5.11a), a gorgeous stemming route in the basalt gorge at Smith. I climbed this route 5 or 6 years ago and was SO impressed by the line and the movement. It’s not the only awesome 5.11ish route I hope to climb in the Gorge, but it represents a line I have admired for such a long time that I will be very excited to finally send it.

Thanks to MountainProject, Pure Palm :-D

But the real goal is an even more beautiful line. When I walked under the perfect dihedral the first time, I was instantly drawn to the line. Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d) is a stunning corner located near many classic hard lines of Smith (To Bolt or Not to Be, for example). It’s a thin crack in a gorgeous stemming corner – a trad line that requires a clear head, gear placement skills, and calves of steel (hence the running).

It would be a huge understatement to say that I’m really excited. :-D

Anyways, if anyone has had to deal with an intercostal strain before, I would love any suggestions, words of wisdom, etc.

Best,

Lizzy





Pushing the Limits – Reflections on IC

9 04 2008

Things have been so busy since we got back to Indian Creek that I’ve only now begun to reflect on my experiences and think about all the things we learned.

Speaking of learning, here is the top 5 things I learned in IC:

(1) Thumbstacks and ringlocks (does this size not exist in granite cracks or something????)
(2) Cams can be really freaking hard to clip (the carabiner is facing a different direction than a quickdraw clipped into a bolt).
(3) Sandstone hurts. You think it’d feel nice and soft compared to granite, but in fact the consistent and sustained nature of the splitters means you wear the same place on your skin over and over and over again. Result? Lot’s more oozing than I usually get from granite.
(4) Footwork. It really matters once the crack starts getting small (thin hands and smaller). Getting blood blisters under your toenails and trying to jam thin hands/thumbstacks is a bad idea.
(5) Endurance. I gained a new appreciation for the thank-god jugs and ledges that granite tends to form.

By far one of the coolest parts of my Indian Creek experience was getting to try my hand at so many hard routes that I would normally consider way above my ability. The splitter cracks are pretty safe to protect (not that hard – just put in the right size of cam) so I was really able to push my limits more than I ever have before. Over the week, I tried several 5.12 cracks, which all offered a completely different experience:

Digital Readout (5.12) – This was the one that really killed my fingers because, even though the top and bottom of the crack were perfect fingers for me, it went to off-fingers in the middle (which is perfect fingers for Luke), which was really hard. I really learned how big a difference subtle variations in crack size could make, as well as how much harder it is to lead something than just TR it – placing the cams, clipping them, and then having to climb around them definitely adds another level of difficulty. This stuff ain’t no sport climbing…

Swedin-Ringle (5.12-) – This route was really cool! The bottom section was challenging because the crack was the wrong size so I had to do a little sport climbing up the face holds to the side before getting down to business. My first try I fell trying to clip a cam off a thumbstack – it was only the 2nd day of the trip and I hadn’t had much practice. The coolest thing about coming back and trying again on the end of the trip was how much better the stacks felt when I got to them – I think I clipped two cams off stacks. It was mostly my feet and the lack of skin on my fingers that were keeping me back. It was awesome to feel so close to sending something this hard.

Slice and Dice (5.12) – This line is gorgeous! It was pretty thin – definitely would involve some stacks mixed in with the thin hands. Unfortunately, I realized I had a blood blister under my toenail that was making it excruciatingly painful to put my left foot in those thin foot jams. Definitely want to try it again when my toes are functional.

Way Rambo (5.12-) – We all tried this on toprope. I was surprised at how hard and sporty it was at the top! Definitely a more challenging lead because after a certain point, you just have to gun it to the anchors because placing too much gear will just make you more likely to fall. A lot less sustained than the other hard cracks we tried because it’s enjoyable straightforward hand jams up until the crux, which was not just jamming like most of the other routes were.

Coyne Crack (5.12-) – This is now 5.11+ in the guidebook, but I thought getting off the ground was harder than most of the moves on the other routes we did. Luke thinks I will need to layback the first few feet until I can get a handjam, but I’d hope to be good enough at thin hands/stacks and crappy thin footjams that I could jam it. It was definitely disappointing to be turned around so close to the ground (I think I got 2 cams in…), but I also didn’t want to resort to cam jugging just to do the upper part. It’s such a beautiful climb that I want to be ready for it.

The Inflictor (5.12-) – A lot of thin moves on to way more stacks than I ever thought I would have to do on a “thin finger crack”. This one might be hard to lead because of fiddly gear placements down low, but it was fun to try on toprope.

The craziest thing about this experience was the fact that I was trying 5.12 crack climbs when I generally feel I’m not at all ready for that grade on sport climbs (or maybe I am, but I’m just holding myself back). It was crazy to be able to push my limits and learn new skills all on lead. It’s something I hope to apply to sport climbing and trad climbing on more typical (a.k.a. granite) cracks. I know I can expect most “normal” 5.12 climbs I attempt to be a little harder – more varied skills, less straightforward gear (on trad climbs), pumpier (sport climbs), but at least I’ve made a step forward mentally – gaining the confidence to push myself on lead and try harder routes.

(Like equinox :-D )








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