Indian Creek- a short story


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Trad climber
Bishop, Ca
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 16, 2012 - 07:50pm PT
A Hard Lesson

It was a hot and relentless summer in Moab, but Lyzz and I were hanging tough, trying to pry a living out of a tourist economy. I was guiding, Lyzz was taking care of rich peopless kids, "trying to instill some values in the little bastards." she called it. Grimm. If you ever get to Moab my advice is this: bring money from someplace else. Anyhow, I'm getting off the point.

It was hot. Brutally hot, and relentless too. Most of our friends had fled, finding jobs in the cooler, more lucrative climes of Telluride or Aspin or some other such foreign parts, but Lyzz and I were hanging tough.

She wasn't my girlfriend or anything, though sometimes I wished she was, especially on those afternoons when we'd go swimming at Mill Creek. Lyzz already had a boyfriend: Linus, old friend, trusted wall partned, fellow seditionist. But that's not what this story is about.

Finally, in August, the rainy season came with those big grey clouds that storm across the sky, colliding like battleships on the warpath. The temps dropped to the low nineties and those winds blowing from far, far away made life seem almost bearable. It was time to go climbing.
Another car crowded the lot when we pulled into the pull out below the Rez Wall. I had my heart set on The Slot Machine, 5.12-. The idea behind Slot Machine is this: you get in this slot, and go like a machine. I'd dressed accordingly: Carharts and a long sleeve shirt. Lyzz was in cut-offs and a tank top.
Sweating up the trail a cry, urgent and heartfelt broke the quiet of the desert morning.

"Kwang-fo! Cham! Kwang-fo!" Japanese? Chinese? Korean? It was anybodies guess.
A tiny figure grappled high up in 'The Slot', hung motionless for a split second and began to fall, pinballing down a long, long ways.
"Huh, what'd'ya' suppose that meant?" I asked Lyzz, as we stopped in the trail and enjoyed the show.
She paused before answering, whipped the sweat from her eyes and smiled. "I think it means, "F*#k! Dude! F*#k!"
I smiled too. Some things transcend linguistic and cultural barriers alike.

They were Koreans it turned out. With broken English and a game of charades we pieced it together and sent them on their way, limping to their next massacre, Excuse Station, a half-mile down the wall. I racked up beneath The Slot.

Thirty-minutes and a hundred and sixty-feet later I rapped to the ground, breathlessly cleaning the gear as I went.
Lyzz took the rack while I pulled the rope, noticed the fresh smear of blood staining my thick pants and rethought her own apparel. "Give me your pants," she said, stepping out of her harness.


"Yer pants, I want them. That shirt too."

"Um, Lyzz, I'm not wearing anything else, at all."

"Don't be an idiot," she said. "You weren't wearing anything at Mill Creek yesterday and it didn't bother you then."

Somehow, it didn't seem the same. The Koreans, of course! "What if the Koreans come back?"

"If you're going to be such a prude then here, put on my underwear. Christ Steve, sometimes I gotta wonder."

I had to wonder too, as she handed me the purple thong, which would look worse if the Koreans did come back?
They did, of course, just as Lyzz rigged the rappel. I tried to hide behind a rock, but to no avail. Embarrassing, but that's just the way life is.

But that's not the reason I'm writing this story either. In fact, this is not a story about climbing at all. I only reach for and recall these events as I would for a crayon: to color in the outlines of our otherwise anonymous lives. And maybe to draw you in.

Slowly, inevitably, summer crept towards fall, and with it the masses returned, crowding our desert paradice for that short, blissful season. Some faces were a joy to see as old friendships were rekindled; most we regarded with mild indifference. As with many human endeavors, old rivalries grew into resentment, blosseming into slander and contempt.
Around one particularly vicious campfire, while a group of psudo-locals was raking an area climber over the coals for a purportedly inflated resume, Lyzz pondered aloud: "What other recreational activities do you guys have?"

'Recreational' was a subtle challenge to the raging egos surrounding the fire. "I", she continued, "Enjoy needlepoint, crosswords and hard core bondage."

Most of the assemblage regarded her irreverence for our noble activety with quiet disdain. I laughed so hard I fell off my log.
Always a bit show on the uptake, however, I too felt myself drawn into that pathetic game of competitive contempt. Familiarity escalated minor slights into verbal shootouts and out community suffered along with our souls.

Then the harsh fingers of winter encroached on our desert paradise and Lyzz and I found ourselves alone again. We shared many a midnight game of Scrabble and Monopoly while the cruel winds rocked our vans and tested out patience.

The last time I saw Lyzz was on the highway. She was going to Salt Lake to see Linus, I was headed to Denver to interview for a job I didn't really want. She laid on the horn and stuck out her tongue as she passed. Not to be outdone, I gave her the finger. We both laughed.

Lyzz died two weeks later soloing in Indian Creek. It's been over ten years now, but still, I find I'm crying as I write this.
The reason I'm writing this is that, in all likelihood, I'm older than you are and I've seen a bit of life and the world that I think you might need to know about.

The first thing you should know is this: we're all going to die. You, me, Lyzz, all of us. And when you stand there before your maker, naked and alone with no place to hide, like me with those Koreans, it's not going to make one bit of difference what you climbed or what style you climbed it in. The only thing that will matter then is how many people you helped out along the way.

Another thing you might want to keep in mind is this: At Lyzz's funeral I ran into an old friend. Well, not really a friend, we'd been feuding for a long time, hadn't spoken for over a year. We approached each other cautiously, both knowing it was time to move on, both too stubborn, too stupid to start.
"You know," he said at last. "You don't have to like everybody in your tribe, but you do have to love them."
We didn;t say another word. We just held each other and wept on that bitter, cold, wind swept February day.

Life went on, as it tends to do. But for me that moment, those words remain frozen in time and I think they bare repeating: You don't have to like everybody in your tribe, but you do have to love them.

Thank you, Steve Seats

the czar

meyers, ca.
Dec 16, 2012 - 08:02pm PT
thanks roadie.

El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Dec 16, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
keep writing, you're very good at it.

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Dec 16, 2012 - 08:24pm PT
thank you

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 16, 2012 - 08:39pm PT
Thank you.

Words to remember:

You don't have to like everybody in your tribe, but you do have to love them.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 16, 2012 - 09:37pm PT
Oh, That Lyzz. I didn't even know that's how her name was spelled.
Thanks and thanks for bringing her back for a bit.

Mountain climber
Dec 16, 2012 - 09:38pm PT
powerful writing via a nomadic path.

thank you.

for both this and the alaska highway tr.

Trad climber
Dec 17, 2012 - 01:24am PT
"I only reach for and recall these events as I would for a crayon: to color in the outlines of our otherwise anonymous lives."

The keyboard is your canvas dude. You have a serious gift with words man. I'm glad you have this medium to spill out your story here for us.......we've never met, its kinda strange eh? That we're here participating in this cool thing you're doing. Thanks for letting us ride along. I echo the sentiments of others here. Keep em coming.

Big Mike

Trad climber
Dec 17, 2012 - 01:37am PT
Another excellent tale. Thanks Steve.

Dec 17, 2012 - 02:29am PT
Great read Roadie. And some serious food for thought.


Trad climber
Dec 17, 2012 - 08:29am PT
Wonderful read!

Dec 17, 2012 - 09:53am PT
hilarious and beautiful. thanks for sharing your writing, Roadie. more, more, more!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 17, 2012 - 12:35pm PT
A good message for everyone.

Trad climber
Dec 17, 2012 - 12:58pm PT
This was in R&I December 08... I have it clipped out. one of my favorites. As indicated by Roadie– Steve Seats wrote it.

Trad climber
under the sea
Dec 17, 2012 - 01:15pm PT
Great read, the emotion totally comes through. thanks
The Larry

Moab, UT
Dec 17, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
Thanks Steve. I've never read that before. I didn't know Lyzz long and I didn't even know that she was a climber. I did know her as a hell of a good pool player and a damn fine dancer. I sure do miss her and her energy.

Dec 17, 2012 - 02:03pm PT
wow, excellent. thank you

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Dec 17, 2012 - 02:10pm PT
Thank you for sharing what is inside you. Life details are different for everyone, but you've tapped into a deeper river that runs through us all.

Trad climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
Dec 17, 2012 - 02:52pm PT
thats the ticket...

Social climber
"close to everything = not at anything", ca
Dec 17, 2012 - 03:37pm PT
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