I had a break from work and in a last minute decision decided to pack my car and drive to Indian Creek. I kept a little journal this time – it seems that I always have so much fun on climbing trips but the good times blur together. I wanted to have some specific memories that could stay fresh to keep me motivated until my next trip. Living in Iowa, trips can sometimes be few and far in between.
Friday October 18
I finally got into Moab after the long 17 hour solo drive. FINALLY! Stopping in Denver last night was a nice respite from the tedious task of driving across the country, but the drive still lasted way too long. When I pulled in at about 2:00 in the afternoon I called Ryan who has lived in Moab for the summer. He had just gotten off work and took me up to The Crackhouse. What a unique piece of rock! After a few miles on a non-descript 4-wheel drive road we parked at the start of a beautiful 50ft long splitter roof crack, situated just 4 feet off the ground. Wide hands to perfect hands to tight hands and finishing with the dreaded .75 camelot size out the lip of the roof. Too rich for my blood, but fun to play on none-the-less. I really enjoyed the 30 foot section of hand cracks that comprised the bulk of the climbing
Tonight was a full moon, and at 9:00 when the moon rose over the La Sal mountains we took our mountain bikes up to Slickrock Trail. With the silver light of the moon reflecting off the rocks, we didn’t even need our headlamps as we rode a few miles back on the trail. We sat in a cave and enjoyed the unique glow of the landscape by moonlight. It was spectacular! Amazing how bright the full moon can be. What a fantastic first night in the desert! It’s Friday night – all my friends back home are sitting at a bar right now getting drunk and probably watching football… God, they’re missing out.
Saturday October 19
Today was another mountain bike day, we rode the Magnificent 7 trail system. It has a fantastic view of the “fins and things” at the base of the snow-capped La Sals. The countless fins and spires of red sandstone comprise a maze of rock, out of which juts the massive white slopes - what a view! I rode today with a girl from Durango who I had met last night. We had a fantastic time riding and enjoyed a well deserved burger and beer at the brewery after a long day on the trail. We decided to stop at The Looking Glass formation on our way to Indian Creek that night for a quick ride on the massive rope swing that is easily set up from the top. It’s a very gentile ride, and though I’ve done it many times, my heart still races as the swing kicks you a hundred feet above the desert below.
Right now I’m sitting by the fire in the Cottonwoods campground at The Creek. As a watch the sun set I realize that I’ve squeezed quite a lot into the last 24 hours. But now its time for the meat of the trip – a week of cracks at The Creek.
Sunday October 20
Way Rambo wall today. I onsight led a route called Layaway Plan, a tight hand crack that finishes with a committing roof. I was pretty fired up to get the onsight. I fell while putting up Way Rambo, having a hard time cranking through the green Camelot sized crux. Those damn thumb stacks get me every time! I guess that’s what I’ll need to work on this week, .75” cracks.
We’re sipping on a bottle of whiskey right now sitting around a fire as the cold desert night sets in. This place rocks.
Monday October 21
I took it easy this morning as the friends I was climbing with had to leave at noon, and some other folks I know were coming into town. We started out in Donnely Canyon and climbed a few fun 5.9’s. As I said goodbye to my friends, another buddy of mine showed up - talk about perfect timing. He has had a vendetta against a route called The Big Baby, a 5.11 offwidth, and I happily belayed him as he grunted and thrashed his way up to the chains. But next its my turn…Sh#t,
Rattly fists out the roof to arm bars for the first half completely sapped my energy. Finally I was able to get a knee bar in and move into hand fist stacks, which is not an easy climbing style, but felt easy compared to the 40’ of heinous struggling below it. As a slapped the chains and flopped back onto the rope a wave of nausea swept over me. “I think I may throw up!” I yelled down to Chris. “Don’t get puke on the rope!!” he replied. Good to know he’s concerned for my well-being.
I foolishly tried to lead a route called Quarter of a Man next, and was again demoralized by the .75” green Camelot corner. “I got a lot of work to do” I tell myself as I am lowered and pull out the gear. I was feeling like kind of a big-shot after a clean (toprope) ascent of The Big Baby, but perhaps fittingly, Quarter of a Man shrunk me down a size or two.
I’m sitting around a fire again after eating a meal of fresh caught salmon, salad, foccocia bread with oil and balsalmic, and cookies for desert. I’m 4 beers down and looking at the glowing embers of the fire and the dazzling desert stars. I’m thinking to myself “anyone who considers camping ‘roughing it’ is obviously doing it wrong.”
Tuesday October 22 - Friday October 25
Got caught up in the climbing and fun of the week and forgot to keep track of the events. But take the journal entry from Monday, change the route names and repeat. Climbing highlights included a clean lead on Jonny Cat, climbing King Cat, and leading Coyne’s Crack. Though I wasn’t able to lead it clean, I dialed it on toprope and think I should be able to get it next time. (Finally starting to figure out my dreaded .75” cracks!)
Over the last four days I saw 4 beautiful sunsets and uncountable stars. I shredded the backs of my hands and climbed till I couldn’t lift my arms. I ate fantastic dinners of steak and salmon while sitting around a fire chatting with friends. I’ve got chapped lips, red sand in my crusty hair, and swollen fingers. I’m satisfied, but I don’t want to leave.
My mom came into town on Wednesday evening. She had never been to the Utah desert, and I really enjoyed showing her around. We camped at The Creek, hiked in canyonlands and around Moab on our way out of town. It’s fun watching someone experience a place so special for the first time. She kept saying “you could just point your camera in any direction at any time and take a fantastic picture.” Its so true. But pictures cant capture the vibe of the place, and the vibe of this place is what I love.
But unfortunately, work started calling. Tomorrow I’m starting the drive back home. Gotta pay the bills I guess… though maybe I should quit and just live out of a tent.
Vacations are good for a lot of things. They rejuvenate me, keep me sane, and give me motivation to stay in shape. They do NOT, however, make me psyched about work. Indian Creek is a magical place, so I guess until next time, some photos and memories will have to suffice.