Thursday, November 8, 2012

October in Indian Creek

Leah and I escaped a scrappy fall in Missoula for a week of climbing on warm sandstone at Indian Creek.  After several years away, it was great to be back in wild, stark desert of southern Utah.
Red rocks, golden cottonwoods, and more gear
than you know what to do with.  Must be fall in Indian Creek.

Days 1-3
After a long day of driving, we successfully rendezvoused with Joshua and spent the first day warming up at the Supercrack buttress.  I warmed up on the classic Super Crack of the Desert (10) and Amaratto corner (9), before heading over Anasazi (11a), a long layback corner, which I redpointed.  We spent the remainder of the day on the Incredible Handcrack and a new favorite, 3AM Crack.  I had a huge smile all day, which would be trend for the remainder of the week.  The evening was spent cooking and settling into desert life.

After sorting gear and saying good by to Joshua, we headed to the Pistol Whipped wall.  We warmed up on the excellent and long wide hand splitter, Jolly Rancher (10).  After following Leah on Wounded Knee (10+), I geared up for Spaghetti Western (11).  The climb went well, with a layback crux at the beginning, and an endurance crux at the top of the overhanging dihedral, and I was glad to pull of the onsight.  Leah rounded out the day by leading Coyne Crack Simulator (11-), which provided a great chance to crank away at ring locks.
Rappelling Spaghetti Western.
Leah on the thin hands start to Wounded Knee.

We spent our third day climbing at the Technicolor wall.  I warmed up on the excellent Whales Back (11-) which would more accurately be graded 5.10.  Leah threw down her proudest lead of the trip, onsighting On the Up and Up (10), which included pulling out of a pod on fist jams and hanging on through the wide hands splitter above.  Feeling the heat, we took a long lunch break before walking down and over to the long an varied dihedral Golden Eye (10+), which I onsighted without incident.  There are a lot of new routes at this wall, and I would be curious to know more about them.  The remainder of the evening was spent in Moab, cleaning up and checking out the Halloween festivities.
Leah at the top of Whale's Back.
Leah onsighting On the Up and Up.
Sprinting to the chains on Golden Eye.

Rest Day
After a long, relaxed morning in Moab, we returned to Indian Creek, and I ended up running a 20 mile loop in the Needles district of Canyonlands.  The route was a rough circumnavigation of the popular hiking trails (Squaw flats to Elephant canyon to Chessler park to the Joint trail to Druid arch and down Elepant to Big Springs and Squaw canyon and back home).  Having backpacked extensively in the Needles, it felt like watching a movie in fast forward as the miles of memorable trail ticked by.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.
The Needles during a "rest day" run.

Days 4-5
With some skin recovery and high expectations, we headed to the Reservoir wall.  After finding and climbing the Warm Up Handcrack (10), Leah climbed the long, varied, and beautiful Pente (11-).  As we were eating lunch at the base of Pente, another party mentioned that the pillar on Slot Machine is slowly moving, and the upper portion of the climb now accepts perfect hand jams.  Inspired by striking line, I decided to investigate.  It took all the face climbing, stemming, and knee barring skills I had to get to the hand crack in the upper dihedral, but I prevailed for an onsight of perhaps my favorite pitch of the trip (in it's current condition, I would downgrade the route from 12- to 11).  We ended the day at dusk on Dr. Carl (10-).
Leah on Pente.
Resorting to blue collar tactics on Slot Machine.

The original plan was to climb a tower in Castle valley the last day, but it was too hard to leave the creek.  We spent the morning at Broken Tooth, where Leah got an impromptu lesson in ring locks while leading Rock Lobster (11), and I onsighted the fantastic unnamed 11- corner with roofs, thin hands, fist jams,and offwidth.  We took a long lunch break and moved to the Reservoir wall, where Leah took a shot at Excuse Station (11).  We were both satisfied and tired after battling one of the longest continuous thin hands splitters at the creek.
Leah on Rock Lobster.
It was with great reluctance that we headed back north...