Reflections on 2009

31 12 2009

As the year comes to a close and climbing trips seem a bit less frequent, I feel it is important to reflect.

As a climber I like to focus on progress and usually push myself to increase my abilities.  While I have been climbing for about ten years, I have only been setting goals for the last five. I have most of these written down in various word documents and it is interesting to look back and see where I was at.

Was a certain level of climbing intimidating? Did I tend to try only a particular style of routes? What was my most proud accomplishment of the year?

Lizzy had a good idea to put events in chronological order to make everything more readable. Here are some of my important events of 2009.

  • Pinky finger pulley rupture at the climbing gym.
  • Strained ring finger  bouldering on pockets in Bishop.
  • Competed in my first trail races since high school (25k, 15k, and 22k).
  • Had a very fun and relaxing trip to Indian Creek. (No grade chasing)
  • Regained bouldering strength and met up with college friends in Joe’s Valley, Utah.

On Planet of the Apes in Joe’s Valley

  • Climbed a number of diverse 5.11’s in Joshua Tree.
  • Continued improving and took a first trip to Zion and onsighted all but one pitch of my first 5.12 multi-pitch, Sheer Lunacy.
  • Climbed Vahalla at Suicide Rock. (Stonemaster!)
  • Got taught a lesson in fear and footwork at Smith Rock.
  • Started off a great alpine season with an ascent of Positive Vibrations on the 4th of July.
  • Climbed two awesome 5.11+ bolted multipitches, The Cathedral Route at Mount Charleston and The Megaplex in Pine Creek Canyon.
  • Continued alpine climbing all summer and brought Lizzy to the Hulk to finish off the pitches I had missed on Positive Vibrations.

On the Incredible Hulk with Lizzy!

  • Did a new 5 pitch route on Mt Langley and a new finish variation on the Keyhole Wall. (Yeah first ascents)
  • Had an amazing trip to the Needles and climbed Atlantis and Spook Book!
  • Re-climbed The Vampire at Tahquitz and stepped it up by leading The Flakes and following Stairway to Heaven.
  • Climbed my first Yosemite 5.11 (The Tube) and 5.12 (Underclingon).
  • Started training for Freerider by climbing the Free Blast.

Climbing high on El Capitan

  • Climbed the Original route on Rainbow Wall with one take. Likely my best single day of climbing all year.
  • Climbed El Capitan via Freerider over 4 days. Free climbed almost 75% of the pitches.
  • Had an amazing trip to Indian Creek and climb my first handful of 5.12 crack routes.
  • Finished the year in Sunnyvale ready for more trips to the Valley.

I think the most important thing this year has been a change in attitude. In the past I have been bent on doing things in a particular style. Climbing onsight and not wanting to get on climbs that I couldn’t do first try. This limited me mentally and I wouldn’t push myself as far as possible. This year my positive relaxed attitude really helped a lot and my climbing has noticeably improved.

I really hope to get in to a good routine in 2010 with more regimented training to prepare for climbing El Cap again as well as finding a few hard projects to keep me motivated.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

–   Luke


2009 – A Milestone Year

29 12 2009

The year is drawing to a close and I’ve begun to realize that, even though I didn’t allow myself to literally write down a list of goals for the year (I find this just results in too much pressure and disappointment…), I did in fact have a bunch of goals and I accomplished a big number of them. In fact, I hit some pretty big milestones this year. So without further ado, here are the highlights (in chronological order):

  • First time: pulling a chest muscle by coughing too much. And then taking 2+ months to recover.
  • Onsighted my first Indian Creek 5.11, Rump Roast II. After several months of not climbing because I had pulled a chest muscle.
  • Turned 21.
  • Accepted as a PhD student in geology at Stanford.
  • Awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
  • Ran my longest ever trail race: 22k in Malibu.

  • First time: in Zion, and first time on a multipitch free route in Zion – Sheer Lunacy.
  • Graduated from Caltech with a B.S. in Geology.

  • Returned to Smith Rock after not visiting for almost 5 years.
  • First time: onsighting 5.11d (or sending any 5.11d, for that matter) – my dream route, Sunshine Dihedral.
  • Returned to Squamish, one of my favorite areas to climb, and finally sent Crime of the Century, right before onsighting Yorkshire Gripper.
  • Moved to Palo Alto, started climbing at Planet Granite Sunnyvale.
  • First: duathlon. Competed in the Luna Bar Women’s Duathlon at the Luna Bar Women’s Triathlon Festival: 2mi run, 20mi bike, 4mi run.

  • Met Sarah Kate, my awesome climbing partner. 🙂
  • Started my first term of grad school at Stanford.
  • Biked to school every single day.
  • Visited Arkansas for the first time, on a geology field trip.
  • First: Climbed my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Yosemite 5.10s – 2 onsights and a redpoint.
  • First: Climbed my first Yosemite 5.11, the crux pitch of South by Southwest, which I climbed with Sarah Kate.

  • First time: Feeling like I am getting over being cripplingly intimidated of climbing in Yosemite.
  • First time: attending a tweetup: #jtreetweetup!
  • Finally sent Gunsmoke! (First tried it in April 2005)
  • First time: getting the whole week of Thanksgiving off, prompting an awesome trip to Indian Creek.
  • First: 5.11++ onsight in Indian Creek – Quarter of a Man.
  • First: 5.12!!! Swedin-Ringle.

  • First: 5.11+ that felt easy… Coyne Crack.
  • Finished my first term as a grad student at Stanford.
  • First time: living less than 2 hours away from Luke – he moved to Mountain View!
  • Finally met theclimbergirl 🙂

So, as you can tell, it’s been a great year, in both my lives (as a climber and a geologist). I think 2010 will be a really exciting year as well, as I start to get more involved in my research at school and I continue to train (and hopefully not get injured). Sarah Kate and I have a really big goal for next year in Yosemite, so hopefully that will keep us motivated! Also, Luke got me a triathlon wetsuit for Christmas, yet another reason to start training for a triathlon (or two!) in 2010 – hopefully a sprint distance first and, if all goes well, an Olympic distance.

Happy (almost) new year!


Philosophical Musings on Rock Climbing

9 11 2009

Prompted by a recent post by Jamie Emerson on Grades.  I thought it would be good to dig up a few older thoughtful posts on climbing mixed with some classic climbing quotes.

“The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.”

– Alex Lowe

Grades, Grade, Grades.

“As we unloaded packs at the parking lot, two young ladies approached us to ask if we were THE Yosemite climbers… They asked if it were true that Yosemite climbers chafe their hands on the granite to enable them to friction up vertical walls. We assured them that the preposterous myth was true.”

-Chuck Pratt – 1965

What is Trad?

‘I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.’

– Bene Gesserit “Litany Against Fear” from Dune by Frank Herbert

Hesitation and Commitment.

“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”

– Doug Lawson

Training, Progress, Belief



Luna Bar All Women’s Triathlon Festival 2009

31 08 2009

This last Sunday I participated in the Luna Bar Duathlon at the Luna Bar All Women’s Duathlon at Rancho Seco Park, which is in rolling hills south of Sacramento near some vineyards and a nuclear power plant (I’d never been this close to one!!). I had decided to do this event because it was going to be 2 days after I moved and I figured I could use both motivation to unpack stuff from my car and a break from putting stuff away. Also, I was interested in getting into triathlons and thought this would be a good intro because I wouldn’t have to deal with the swim – bike transition, which seemed complicated, or struggle to train for swimming, since I technically didn’t have access to the Caltech gym/pool any more after graduating (what do girls do with your hair? Do you just redo it after taking off swim cap? Braids?)

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Bike and bag of gear all ready to go the night before

I trained for this more than any recent event, mostly because I knew my legs needed to be in shape for the biking and running. The Rose Bowl was perfect for this – mostly flat with some very gentle hills and a 3.15mi loop. I would do several laps for a bike workout or 1-2 laps for a run workout. I also did a couple of practice duathlons – transitioning at the car.

So I felt pretty prepared. I packed up all my gear the night before and got up at 5am the morning of to drive to Rancho Seco Park so I would have plenty of time to park, check in, and prepare my transition area. I’d never done something like this before, so I checked out how other ladies were setting their stuff up, putting the bike on the rack by the seat and organizing their various shoes, clothing, and towels (for triathletes) on the ground next to the bike.

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My bike in the transition area

It was so cool being at an event that was just for female athletes. There were 4 events – Super Sprint Duathlon and Triathlon and Luna Bar Duathlon and Triathlon, so there was an event for everyone, from the not-so-in shape to the serious triathletes. Throughout the day, everyone was really supportive of each other and sports-woman-ship was everywhere. Plus, I didn’t often see this many women in my years at Caltech (only at frisbee tournaments, where the camaraderie is not so good…) Yes, boys, it was nice for all of you to be on the sidelines just cheering us on.

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Looking at all the ladies setting up in the transition area.

My race was a 2 mile run, followed by a 20 mile bike ride and a 4 mile run. These last 2 legs were shared with the triathletes, who started in waves on a .5 mile lake swim. When we started the first run, we all joked that we would rather be jumping in the lake – the run course was in the sun and it was already getting hot. I’d drank about 2 Liters of water since waking up, though, so I think I started out pretty well hydrated. I focused on pacing myself on the first run – I have a tendency to go out WAY too fast and tire myself out early and felt good and relaxed on the first run, doing 8-minute miles, faster than I’d expected. My first transition went well and I felt fast and strong going out on the bike course, even though I was getting passed by triathletes who’d clearly trained more than me (my cycle speed is currently only about 15 mi/hr, whereas I imagine the best athletes were probably around 20mi/hr). I had taken two shot bloks before starting the race and took the remaining 4 shot bloks at intervals throughout the bike ride (it’s way easier to do bloks/gu while cycling than while running) and trying to stay hydrated.

The bike ride was an out-and-back course and it seemed there was a little more uphill on the way back, plus a headwind, so I didn’t go quite as fast and my legs started to get tired, but I kept going. I only had one almost-bad incident when some bitchy lady honked at us from behind (I guess she was impatient to pass?) and I jumped, accidentally nudging my front wheel onto the soft shoulder. Miraculously, though, I got back on the road almost immediately and hadn’t been at one of the spots where the pavement dropped off several inches to the shoulder. A passing woman congratulated me for not crashing and flipped off the rude driver for me.

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My number – 76

The final run was hard for me, not only because it was longer than the first run, but because my legs were really tired and my stomach was feeling really awful, as it often does on races. Normally, 4 miles wouldn’t be too bad of a run for me, but the heat and tiredness made it a big challenge. I focused on my breathing, and on taking advantage of the downhill sections (which not a lot of people seemed to do). I had a cup of electrolyte and a cup of water at every aid station (every mile, which was great!), using most of the water to pour on my head to keep cool.

I ended up finishing in 2:24:50. I’d not had a good idea of how long this should have taken me, but I expected to take over 2 hours and, based on the return part of the bike course and the second run course, I was pleasantly surprised by this not-too-terribly awful finish time (the winning time was 1:57:00, the last finisher was 2:54:54). I was 8th out of 22 athletes in the Duathlon and 1st (out of one athlete, but hey, I was competing just against myself anyways) in the 20-29 age group.

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My 1st place plaque and free box of Luna Bars!

Overall, this event was a great experience! Everyone was really friendly and supportive. It made me really excited to get into triathlons next season because I still don’t really love running, but I enjoy biking and swimming. This was a lot more fun than the long trail race I did in May, even though I covered more distance, because I got to ride my bike! In the meantime, I’m hoping to get my cycling speed up, get back into swimming, and maybe compete in some shorter trail races (I’ve always been better at running less far…) so I can work on my speed. If I’m not out in the field for this event next year, I definitely want to do it again! Check out this page for info about the race this year.

Do any of you blog readers do triathlons? Any training tips?


Widget Love, or How I Became a Trad Climber

7 08 2009

The more climbers I meet, the more I realize that my experience of climbing has been unusual. I feel lucky to have had the experiences I’ve had, because they’ve allowed me to have what not every 21-year-old female climber has – a passion for trad climbing. I love sticking my hands, fingers, and feet into cracks. I love the complexity and freedom of placing my own protection. And, of course, I love the incredulous look that boys give me when they see me racking up for a hard trad route. This is the story of the journey that’s got me here.

It all started during the summer, 8 years ago. I was 13 and on a summer camp trip – a little bit of outdoor climbing and some river rafting in Washington. We were climbing at Mt. Erie, a scenic beginner crag in Northern Washington, and this was my very first outdoor climbing experience. I was toproping one of the routes (nothing too hard – I doubt we did anything harder than 5.9) that had a crack in the top section with a small chockstone in it. I grabbed the chockstone, making my hand into what was probably something close to a fist jam. I had some tense moments when I thought my hand was stuck, but once I relaxed everything was good. So I guess to a certain extent, crack climbing was intuitive for me from the beginning of my climbing career.

Following Master Looney (5.11a) in Summer 2004

Fast forward several months to the next spring. I am 14 and heading to Joshua Tree with other students from my high school for “Project Week” – a week before spring break where students head out to have non-academic adventures – volunteering, art, outdoor adventures, etc. I was totally psyched to be going to such a classic climbing area and, having read about trad climbing in climbing magazines, was hoping to learn to place the widgets and maybe start leading. Although leading was too much to ask for this trip, I did learn how to place nuts and cams, both for leading and building anchors. Even better, I learned a lot more crack technique and loved every bit of it. I learned to hand jam on a vertical, perfect hand crack where there was no chance to cheat by using face holds or laybacking. It was magical, after trying the non-crack climbing options, like double gaston-ing the crack, to slot my hand in, drop my thumb down, and pull on a perfect hand jam. I came back from the trip utterly in love with trad climbing.

Over the next year, I went on as many climbing trips with my high school’s Outdoor Ed program as I could manage, snagging my first trad leads on the short crags of Leavenworth, WA. I even went on the trips for the middle school students as a “student leader”. My parents would only let me go climbing when guides were around, so I took every opportunity to have them critique my gear placement and tried to absorb every trick for anchor building, multi-pitching, etc.

Leading Karate Crack (5.10a) in Summer 2004.

The spring of my sophomore year, when I was 15, found me on a climbing Project Week again, this time to iconic Smith Rock in Oregon. Although I didn’t get to lead anything on this trip, I got to toprope plenty of excellent climbs, including the classic Karate Crack, and “mock-lead” some routes to have my gear critiqued more. I was learning the critical balance between moving efficiently and pausing at length to place perfect pieces.

Learning about rope management in the North Cascades.

The next few years saw me grow even more involved in participating in and leading Outdoor Ed trips, taking every opportunity to lead trad routes that I could get. I also had the amazing opportunity to go on climbing trips organized by the Northwest Mountain School, a small guiding company owned by my good friends John and Olivia. On these trips, I had the opportunity to climb at Smith Rock (both summers) and in the North Cascades (2nd summer). John and Olivia and the rest of their guides were very encouraging and gave me tons of opportunity to lead. On our 2nd Smith Rock trip, I onsighted Moonshine Dihedral (5.9), my first onsight of the grade, and redpointed Karate Crack (5.10a), my first 5.10 lead and a route I’d been in love with since I first toproped it. Climbing in the North Cascades taught me a ton of important skills for rope management, anchor building, etc. for multipitch trad climbing and I continued to refine my crack technique on gorgeous granite cracks.

Leading at Pearly Gates in Summer 2004.

During my senior year in high school, I organized and helped lead my final Project Week trip, this time back to Joshua Tree. I lead my first J-Tree 5.9s, a big step for me since the grades there tend to be a little stiff. I spent the summer afterward teaching climbing camps for kids (I got the 4-10 year old crowd, quite a challenge) and dreaming of all the climbing I would do in college in California. I lead Index 5.9s (another step up from Joshua Tree 5.9s) including Godzilla, Princely Ambitions, and Roger’s Corner, taking advantage of the freedom my parents had finally given me (at 17 years old) to go climbing without being accompanied by guides. I dreamed of long granite trad routes, perfect sandstone splitters, lovely basalt columns – I knew college was the time when many climbers really got serious.

But I had chosen to go to the California Institute of Technology, which is not exactly a “normal” college. Over the past 4 years, my schoolwork was intense and time-consuming, taking up much of the time and energy I’d hoped to devote to climbing. Nevertheless, the myriad of climbing areas within semi-reasonable driving distance of Los Angeles and the boundless enthusiasm of Luke have helped me bring my trad climbing to a whole other level, even though my progress has seemed frustratingly slow at times.

Psyched and tired after sending Even Stevens (5.11b) in August 2006.

My freshman year at college had less climbing than I had hoped, since I was busy getting used to the whole college thing. Nevertheless, I did get the chance to visit many of the classic not-too-distant climbing areas like J-Tree, Tahquitz, and Red Rocks. I started gaining more confidence, leading some 5.10s in J-Tree and getting a reputation among the Caltech Alpine Club for my relaxed, runout leads on Red Rocks multipitch routes like Johnny Vegas (5.7) and Black Orpheus (5.10a). I was still considering the possibility of guiding (I had done a lot of youth climbing trip leadership and was WFR certified at the time), so I spent the summer “working” for my friends John and Olivia – hoping to get some guiding experience in Leavenworth, WA. Although I didn’t end up guiding any clients (I was only 18 at the time), I had a great summer of climbing in Washington, often with Luke. I lead my first 5.11s, two trad routes at Index – Thin Fingers (5.11a) and Even Stevens (5.11b), had a great trip to Washington Pass with Luke, and took my first trip to Squamish (how dreamy!). By this point, I was figuring out how to rack my cams on my harness in a way that worked best for me (I, as many others, started off leading with the cams on a gear sling, but this doesn’t work so well for “hard” trad climbs. You want ’em on the gear loops in arranged in a way that it’s easy for you to find and remove the right one.)


Redpointing the classic Scarface (5.11-) in March 2008.

The next year, Luke and I managed to travel across the country many times to see each other and climb together, although it was not a particularly great year for my progress. I got overwhelmed with school and Ultimate Frisbee. However, in the Spring of 2005, Luke graduated from college and moved out to California. My school and climbing schedule changed entirely. I began working pretty much every waking hour during the week so I’d have my weekends free to climb with Luke. And I did this for my junior and senior years of college.


So psyched after onsighting the excellent Rump Roast II (5.11) in March 2009.

Although my fitness has been far from consistent during that time, I have definitely made some major improvements. I took time off trad to go bouldering and sport climbing with Luke and I’m sure the skills I’ve gained from these have really helped me a lot. In fact, I pushed my sport climbing to harder grades than my trad climbs (just barely, 11c vs. 11b) for the first time in my career and learned how much benefit I can gain from general fitness and endurance.

Setting out on my onsight of Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d) in June 2009.

I guess I’ve just started to really notice the payoff recently, since this summer has been going really well for me, in terms of sending. In Smith Rock, I floated On the Road (5.11a) on my first try. I had remembered this climb being tricky, but I hardly noticed pulling the “crux”. Then I did my hardest send to date, Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d), which was a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve been dreaming about this route since my first trip to Smith Rock and to have come to a place where I was capable of onsighting it felt awesome. Despite the fact that my sister and I were a little less motivated to send hard in Squamish the following week,  it felt good to walk up to the crag, rack up, and climb 5.10s –  relaxing even! Sending Crime of the Century (5.11c) and onsighting Yorkshire Gripper (5.11b) on the last day, I was feeling strong, loving the widgets.

Looking back, I feel lucky to have had such great opportunities to be mentored. I think trad climbing is probably the one discipline of rock climbing where one can gain huge benefits from learning the ropes from an experienced “mentor”. I guess there may also be a certain element to trad climbing that is intuitive – jamming has always felt resonably natural to me, as has climbing between stances. Progression has been understanding that a “stance” doesn’t have to be two huge footholds – it can be a solid finger- or hand-jam, a stem, even a solid foot-jam. Furthermore, the mental space for trad leading – thinking not only about moves and rests, but also about gear placement – is not something that you would easily develop when you start climbing in a gym (which I did not). But at the same time, I really believe most of this can be picked up if you invest enough time.

Sure, trad climbing isn’t for everyone. But for me, it is the most exciting, motivating, challenging form of climbing. I’m not sure I will ever be as psyched for anything else (as you may tell from the fact that the routes on my tick list are all trad routes).

Happy Widget-Placing!

Shivering, Sweating, and Sending in Smith Rock

30 06 2009

It happened. We graduated and packed up the Rav to head down to Smith Rock out near Terrebonne, Oregon. I hadn’t been in almost 5 years (since the summer after my junior year in high school) and was stoked to go back and lead some of the routes that fired my initial love of rock climbing. We were there for 12 days and 11 nights, my longest climbing trip in quite a while.

Day 1

Maddy and I packed up the car in the morning and headed down to Oregon. With some stops for food and gas, we made it down to Smith Rock in about 7 hours. We pulled up to the campground, set up our tents, and headed down the trail to get a couple of routes in and start getting our Smith Rock faces on. We headed to the 5 Gallon Buckets area, but there were people (not surprisingly) on all the easier routes, so we continued up to the Peanut to start out our trip on Hop on Pop (5.8). We both lead the route, and I didn’t freak out too much about the knobs seeming to flex when I pulled on them. Then we headed back and both sent the 5.9 to the right of 5 Gallon Buckets before heading back to the campground for the day. Nothing too challenging, but it was good to get on the rock after a long drive.

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Checking out the guidebook cause WE’RE AT SMITH ROCK!!!

Day 2

When it wasn’t windy, it was pretty hot in the sun, so we decided to start out in the shade by heading over to the Mesa Verde Wall. We’d never been there before and knew there were a good number of classic knob routes. We warmed up on Cosmic (5.10a) – an onsight for Maddy and a flash for me. We wanted to get on the ultra classics Screaming Yellow Zonkers (5.10b) and Moons of Pluto (5.10d), but another party had just started Screaming Yellow Zonkers and we were not sure our rope was long enough for Moons of Pluto. Instead, we decided to go for Bad Moon Rising (5.11a). It was my turn to go first, so I got on the sharp end and went for the onsight. I made it past the tricky moves on crappy rock down low, the stellar 5.10 knob climbing in the middle of the pitch, and up to the last bolt, below the roof. I jumped right into the roof moves, since there wasn’t a good rest and I was already feeling pumped. I managed to get one of the knobs over the lip, popped my right foot out onto a knob, then struggled to get up onto the upper slab. There was another, better knob, but I couldn’t reach it. So I fell. It was a long, but safe fall and after resting and de-pumping for a second I easily pulled the roof by using some better footwork to gain the second, much juggy-er knob to pull over the roof. Instead of trying to redpoint the route, I had Maddy clean it after following on TR so we could try the other classics at the crag. We both sent Screaming Yellow Zonkers first try, but then the sun came before we could get on Moons of Pluto.

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Smith is so pretty.

We headed back to the front side to play on the 5 Gallon Buckets and Overboard walls a bit more. But they weren’t in the shade yet, so we stopped at the Dihedrals and climbed Wedding Day (5.10b) – an onsight for me and redpoint for Maddy. Then we headed over to tick 5 Gallon Buckets (5.8), both redpointing it. We were both interested in Magic Light (5.11a) and Overboard (5.11a/b), so we decided to try one of them (Magic Light) as the last route of the day. I got about 2 bolts up before I got awful hand cramps in both hands (simultaneously) and dropped my chalk ball on the ground. I decided it was Maddy’s turn to lead. She headed up and couldn’t figure out how to move left onto Magic Light, so continued straight up on Overboard instead. She took a couple falls at the crux, but finally figured it out (which was good, because I was pretty much out of commission for the day) and made it to the anchors. She cleaned the route and we headed back to the campground, deciding we definitely needed to bring more water the next day.

Day 3

This was our first gorge day. I remembered loving the basalt columns of the Gorge on my first trips to Smith and was excited to go back and lead many of the routes I had tried on toprope. We spent the whole day on the West Columns because it was somewhat cloudy and breezy all day, making the temps good even in the sun and rather chilly when we were in the shade. Maddy isn’t super into the trad leading thing, so I lead everything and she followed and cleaned. We warmed up on Badfinger (5.10b, redpoint), then climbed Rim Job (5.10b, onsight), Wildfire (5.10b, onsight), and Cruel Sister (5.10a, onsight), with many rests in between since I hadn’t slept well the night before. To finish up the day, we both toproped Crack-a-no-go (5.11b), which I wanted to eventually try on lead, but after toproping since the tricky gear placement is supposed to be the crux. I flashed it on toprope and started working out the gear beta. But we were pretty tired, so we hiked out, made dinner, and went to bed early, only to be woken up at 3am by some people noisily setting up their tents.

Day 4

We were glad this was a rest day – not only were we tired, but the campground was absolutely swamped with weekend people – mostly not climbers (or people paying to be guided for the day) who thought it was ok to leave their stoves, coolers, etc. set up at one (or two!) of the ~10 picnic tables for the whole day. Apparently the concept of shared space was not apparent to many of these people. We had a lazy morning, then headed to Bend to get some Chai before going to Portland to pick up Luke. We got some yummy baked goods from Great Harvest Bakery and shared a slice of pizza from the Bite of Bend food fair. We drove to Portland via Salem (since I’d never been that way and we had some time to kill), then after some furious phone calls by Maddy, found the only retailer in the greater Portland area with Miuras in Luke’s size, since he’d called to tell us he forgot to pack climbing shoes. Shoes in hand, we picked up Luke from the airport and headed back to Terrebonne. We had a very delicious dinner at the Terrebonne Depot, a relatively new restaurant near the train tracks on Smith Rock Way. The fish tacos were AMAZING.

Back at the campground, we met up with Kevin and Jon of Climbfind and chatted for a bit, making plans to meet up at Cocaine Gully the next day, before heading to the tent for the night.

Day 5

Luke and I scrambled up “the nostril” into Cocaine Gully, while Maddy headed over towards the Dihedrals to meet with some friends from the Vertical World team who’d moved to Bend. Our plan was to warm up on Chicken McNuggets (5.10b), which, like many classic 5.10s in Smith Rock, I’d done before on toprope. The beginning part was trickier than I remembered and my nerves contributed to my taking an accidental warm-up fall on the first bolt. Then, with the falling jitters mostly subdued, I proceeded to send the route. The huge nubbins on that last wall are wild! Luke lead the route also, before moving up-gully to Powder Up the Nose (5.10d). Luke lead the precarious tiny-nubbin-pulling and we decided that I would just toprope this one, which I did, since the crux pulls were an uncomfortable distance above the last bolt for the second route of the day. Then Luke went up to remember the moves and put the draws on Freebase (5.12a), which he’d tried on a previous trip to Smith. We were also joined by Kevin and Jon, who hopefully enjoyed TRing the routes we’d done and borrowing my rope to lead Chicken McNuggets. It was my turn next, so I got on Vomit Launch (5.11b), which I’d been told was really awesome. I decided not to go for the onsight, because I expected I would get super pumped trying to figure out the sequences. I took a couple of rests on my way up, but didn’t find any genuinely hard moves (just some delicate footwork-y ones, including a lockoff that allowed me to static the move to the big jug that is apparently a deadpoint for most). Then Luke sent Freebase! His first 5.12 of the trip!

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The Climbfind guys on Chicken McNuggets (5.10b)

While Luke onsighted Bloodshot (5.11c), I went to get Maddy, who I thought would enjoy Vomit Launch. She did very well, taking only two falls. This encouraged me, so I went for the send. I focused on moving efficiently so I could minimize the pump and in no time I was on the final crack jugs and clipping the anchors. That route is way fun and I would definitely recommend it for someone just breaking into the grade since there weren’t really any “hard” moves.

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Maddy attempting Vomit Launch (5.11b)

We finished the day with 9 Gallon Buckets (5.9) and then Luke lead Overboard (5.11a/b) so Maddy could work the crux on toprope. I abstained. I was beginning to realize I really wasn’t a fan of the ridiculously greasy and polished routes in the Morning Glory area – I like my footholds to be sticky! We finished the day with breakfast burritos for dinner and a bit of slacklining and hanging out with Kevin and Jon before they headed down to California.

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Lizzy sends Vomit Launch (5.11b)

Day 6

The morning arrived without a definite plan. We slept in a bit (Luke was so excited the first day that he was pretty tired, which is unusual 😀 ) and headed to the Dihedrals. Everything was in the sun already, but we found some routes to warm up on  – Helium Woman (5.9) and Captain Xenolith (5.10a), which Luke onsighted and the rest of us flashed. When we finished, everything was still in the sun (we were still getting used to the whole sun/shade issue at this point, as our first several days had actually been fairly cool). Luke and Maddy worked on Latin Lover (5.12a) and Take a Powder (5.12a/b), which were in the shade (amazingly). Latin Lover worked well for Maddy’s small fingers, but not so well for Luke’s man fingers and Take a Powder had a very hard crux section (which I did not do, because I was reserving my energy for 5.11 projects, since I’m learning I don’t have as much energy to expend as Luke).

It was hot in the sun at Helium Woman and Captain Xenolith.

Finally, Moondance (5.11c) got in the shade, so I nervously roped up for an onsight attempt. I fell once in the runout section below the rest jug, having gotten myself too far to the right on bad holds. After resting, I sent the remainder of the route to the anchors. Maddy then flashed the route (her first lead of the grade), which kind of made me feel lame. But I made up for it by sending the route next try. Maddy and I were both tired, but Luke still had a little leftover energy, so we stopped by the 5 Gallon Buckets area for him to do a few jughaul cooldowns.

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Lizzy on the crimpy slab on the first half of Moondance (5.11c)

Day 7

We decided to take this as a half rest day, with a full rest day a couple days later. We thought that two full rest days might limit our climbing time too much, while only one rest day would just not suffice. We had a relaxing morning, then took a trip to the grocery store, followed by some reading time and a leisurely lunch at the campground. We headed down into the Gorge around 3pm, when we knew the West Columns would be in the shade. Since Pure Palm (5.11a) was one of the goals for the day, we warmed up on Cornercopia (5.10b). I lead it first (a redpoint, since I’d TRed it before), then Luke and Maddy followed it to warm up their stemming muscles.

Lizzy warming up on Cornercopia (5.10b).

Luke went first at Pure Palm, but couldn’t figure out and commit to a sequence at the first crux, which comes when your feet are at the 3rd bolt. I tried next, but fell while trying to make the move, so it was Maddy’s turn. She used some ridiculous beta involving taking both her feet off at the same time and doing a hand-foot match. She unfortunately fell near the upper crux or it would have been a very impressive flash. I decided to try the ridiculous beta on TR so I would be more comfortable on lead, climbing up to the rest ledge, then lowering to rest for my next go. In the mean time, Luke sent the route, but highstepping his right foot (whereas Maddy used the left). I ended up doing the same thing on my lead go, making it safely to the rest ledge and facing the unfamiliar territory to the anchors. The last couple moves were extremely thrutchy, since I couldn’t seem to get back in the stem, but I somehow managed to send and clip the anchors.

Lizzy palming and stemming up the beginning section of Pure Palm (5.11a)

Luke wanted to try Last Chance (5.10c), so he located it and onsighted it. Maddy followed it, since I wanted to save it for another day in the Gorge when there was time to lead it. Instead, I used the waning light to get on On the Road (5.11a), which I’d TRed a long time ago. I psyched myself up for the crux bit from the ground, but once I got up there the “crux” didn’t even seem hard. I reminded myself to stay focused and not mess up the send after floating up the “crux”. The hardest part was probably the section of off-fingers (purple camalots) before the crack went to thin hands and then hands. Even though the guidebook said to bring a “big hands piece” for the top, I only placed one yellow camalot and could easily have managed without it. This was an awesome send for me because it felt fairly easy in comparison with my struggle a the top of Pure Palm.

If there had been more light, I would have kept going, but it was getting dark, so Luke cleaned the route and we hiked out of the Gorge for a late dinner.

Day 8

Although our half rest day was awesome, it was not very restful and everyone was feeling a bit tired the next morning. After a somewhat slow start, we decided to start the day at the Northern Point and take it from there. Although Northern Point features many short, easy topropes, more recently there have been some pretty cool sport climbs added, too.

We arrived at the cliff only to find that we hadn’t slept in quite enough and the easiest route, a 5.10c/d, was still in the sun. So we decided to “warm up” on one of the 4 star 5.11s the cliff offered, because it was actually in the shade. Luke onsighted A Woman in the Meadow (5.11a) and Maddy flashed up to the awkward and powerful undercling crux. She took a fall that tweaked her ankle, so it was my turn. I flashed it, but got super pumped in the process. Then we moved on to Limbo (5.11a), which Luke also onsighted. I was still feeling pumped, so I just toproped this one and Maddy lead it with a fall or two. We also did Jungle Fever (5.11b), as well as a 5.12a (only Luke did this one, but he sent on his 2nd try), a 5.10d which may have been a bit harder due to a missing hold, and a 5.11c. I was having a crappy day, so I didn’t do all of them, but Luke and Maddy climbed well and we ended up having a full day of climbing at Northern Point.

I love this picture of Luke 🙂

Day 9

This, finally, was to be our full rest day, although it was not devoted entirely to resting. Luke had wanted to try to do the highline out to the mouth cave on the Monkey, so we got up fairly early and hiked up Misery Ridge (it was quite hot). Then Luke and Maddy rapped down and climbed the Pioneer Route (5.7 A0) to the mouth cave. I helped them set up a tyrolean off the Monkey, then Luke went back across with his webbing to set up the slackline. It took us a while to set it up, but we were able to get it pretty tight and Luke and Maddy spent some time trying to get established on the slackline (I’m not very good at slacklining to start with and I knew the exposure wouldn’t help…). In the end, nobody really got far off the ledge, but setting it up was good practice and Luke realized that he needs to slackline more often to mentally prepare himself better for highlining.

Luke considers the exposure of the Monkey highline

It was after 1pm and we had dinner plans in Bend, so we hiked the hot trails back to the campground, piled in the car, and headed to a deliciously greasy Taco Time lunch (normally my stomach can’t handle fast food, but I’ve had Taco Time since I was little and it is my one guilty pleasure whenever I come back to Washington). We returned to the campground to shower and reorganize the car, then headed to Bend, where we picked up some more yummy baked goods and sourdough bread and killed some time at the local REI before heading to the home of Maddy’s friends for dinner and socializing.

Maddy on the tyrolean out of the mouth cave

We got back to camp a little late and went to bed right away in preparation for an early morning.

Day 10

We headed down to the Christian Brothers and hopped on Barbeque the Pope (5.10b) as a warm-up, even though it was already in the sun. I went first, barbequing my toes, and Luke and Maddy both lead it also. Then Luke racked up to redpoint Wartley’s Revenge (5.11b), a steep juggy crack line that he’d tried before. He sent, with plenty of worrying about gear in the questionable rock, and Maddy and I followed (I, at least, was into energy-conservation mode again in preparation for an attempt on my top goal, an onsight of Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d) later in the day).

Lizzy’s toes getting cooked in the heat on Barbeque the Pope (5.10b)

Maddy lead up Latin Lover (5.12a) with a couple falls, but afterwards everyone else’s project was still in the sun (as usual). Luke walked over to Aggro Gully and found that it was not only breezy, but also shady over there, so we headed there to climb and wait out more shade at the Dihedrals. Luke sent Toxic (5.11b) on his second try and Maddy wasn’t able to figure out the dyno, so she cheated a bit to the right and eventually got to the anchors. After letting Maddy and I take naps, Luke got on Up for Grabs (5.11d), which he lead with a couple of hangs.

Luke makes the clip on Toxic (5.11b)

It was getting a little cooler, so we figured we could head back to the Dihedrals. I re-warmed up on Moonshine Dihedral, which I’d onsighted 5 years ago, finding it a bit slipperier than I’d remembered, but good practice for placing lots of nuts. I traversed over to the first anchor on Heinous Cling (5.12a) and set up a toprope for Luke and Maddy to play on while I rested for Sunshine Dihedral.

Maddy eyes the faraway jug on Toxic (5.11b)

It didn’t take them long to toprope Heinous, so it was my turn again pretty soon. Full of nerves and doubts, I racked up – a double set of itty-bitty nuts (RPs and some other little nuts called “Stones” that Luke got me and I love), the smaller half of our normal set of nuts, purple C3, green C3, 2 blue Aliens, a blue Mastercam, 3 green Aliens, 2 yellow Aliens, and 2 grey Aliens. I was deeply intimidated by the route, since the crack looked thin and tricky to protect, but I kept repeating encouragment to myself – I’d done routes almost this hard (three 5.11c sport climbs, plus my 5.11 onsight in Indian Creek), plus I had already done some difficult stemming on Moondance and Pure Palm and Sunshine Dihedral is actually a lot less steep than Moonshine Dihedral. As I struggled to place my first piece, a #5 RP, I worried that I was not qualified for the route. But I continued pushing down my doubts and was making more progress. Before I knew it, the first bolt (there are 2 bolts and a fixed pin on the route) was in sight. The moves getting to the bolt were some of the trickiest on the route, but I had it clipped and moved on above, into the section I’d thought was the crux. The stemming and jamming were tricky, but never impossible. There were some strenuous moves below the pin, but before I knew it, I’d clipped that, too! Only a couple more moves and there was a big jug (not really that helpful since my legs, not my forearms, were pumped). Then I clipped the 2nd bolt and did a couple more strenuous moves to pass the little roof at the bolt. Above the roof, I could see the anchors and the climbing started to get slabbier. I tried not to think about the anchor yet and only focus on the moves in front of me. I placed a couple more pieces and then I was clipping the anchor before I knew it! I had onsighted Sunshine Dihedral, my hardest lead ever. I was so thrilled and had a rush of adrenaline and excited energy that lasted a good half an hour! (Then I started to feel tired and my legs realized that they were actually pumped from stemming continuously for 30m!)

Lizzy getting into the groove on Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d)

The gear had been tricky and not the most bomber (I placed some #2 and #3 RPs and Stones that made me nervous), but it was all there. I cleaned the route on my way down and Luke toproped it, struggling a little more since his larger fingers couldn’t fit in all the pods. As I was putting the gear back on the rack, some older dudes walked by and asked what route we were doing. Upon learning the grade and fact that I had just onsighted it, they were very impressed (yes, sometimes its nice for the chick to impress the dudes!).

We celebrated by heading to Redmond for pizza. I was thrilled and felt satisfied with my climbing trip, even if I didn’t climb anything else.

Day 11

This was Luke’s day for the Monkey, so we got up reasonably early, hiked over Asterisk Pass, and headed to the West Face of the Monkey. Luke wanted to try Astro Monkey (5.11d), which started with the crux 5.11d pebble-pinching and slab-climbing pitch, followed by some easier pitches, a 5.11a pitch, and finishing by climbing Monkey Space (5.11b) up to and out of the West Cave.

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It was pretty hot on Bohn Street…

The initial pitch turned out to be pretty hard and it didn’t seem like many people climbed the route at all. Luke ended up rapping off and we decided to just climb the West Face Variation at ~5.8 to Bohn Street, then do Monkey Space to the summit. With some simul-climbing, we made Bohn Street in one pitch from the ground, then Luke lead the first, wild, traversing pitch of Monkey Space (5.11a). Maddy and I both had some scary following to do, but we all made it safely to the West Cave.

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Luke leads off into space on the first pitch of Monkey Space (5.11a)

The last pitch pulls onto the roof of the cave and up out on steep jugs. Maddy and I struggled following it due to our shortness and our difficulty removing gear, compounded by the fact that we aren’t used to climbing hard multipitches with 3 people and the rope management proved tricky. After rapping on the Monkey, we hiked back to the campground (it was already ~5pm) and got some ice cream from the climbing store, which was nice after the hot hike. We made dinner and went to bed early again, hoping to get some early climbing in the next day before taking Luke to the airport and heading back to my parents’ house.

Day 12

Maddy makes the clip on Latin Lover (5.12a)

This last morning was the time for everyone to get some last sends in, but I was still feeling fulfilled and not particularly motivated after having sent Sunshine Dihedral, so I was happy to mostly just belay Luke and Maddy. We got up early and headed to the 5 Gallon Buckets wall, where Luke “completed the wall” by sending every route (that he hadn’t already done this trip) except Zebra Seam and one of the extensions. Maddy warmed up by following a couple routes. She had wanted to get back on Overboard, but some locals were hogging the Overboard wall, so we decided to head straight over to Latin Lover. Maddy racked up her draws and set off to put the draws on the route. However, she kept not falling and made it up onto the arete, clipping the anchors and sending her first 5.12a (I think her hardest previous route was Moondance (on this trip) at a soft 5.11c). She was pretty stoked and gained the same fulfilled feeling I’d gotten from Sunshine Dihedral.

Luke wanted to squeeze one or two more routes in, so we headed back to Morning Glory, where Lion’s Chair (5.11a R) was still in the shade. Luke decided to go to the first anchor (5.10c) and then decide if he wanted to continue up the full pitch. The climbing turned out to be weird and awkward, so he decided to call it a day at the first anchor. Maddy followed, rapped, and we were hiking back up to the campground to pack up the tents and the car.

We made good time to Portland and had an hour before we needed to drop Luke off, so we stopped by the Portland Patagonia store (I LOVE visiting Patagonia stores, even though it pains me that I can never afford to buy anything…). Then it was time to say goodbye to Luke (I won’t get to see him for almost 3 weeks!) and drive north back to Poulsbo.

Overall, I think it was a fantastic trip. Maddy and I both sent a lot of routes at the harder end of our difficulty range and though Luke didn’t end up doing as many 5.12s as he’d hoped, I think he learned a lot about mental space. If you’re interested in any of these routes and want more beta (I’ve tried to keep this post pretty beta light or it would be EVEN longer), comment and we’ll be happy to fill you in.

Jamming in Paradise, a week in Indian Creek

27 03 2009


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.