Indian Creek I heard so much about this climbing area and I was both afraid and excited about my first trip. My friends warned me - the first time there, you cannot climb much, sometimes nothing, your hands get beaten up, and you get mentally wasted. There are no easy climbs there, hard to find those few 5.9s. And crack climbing is different, almost like a new sport compared to face climbing. I wondered what will happen to me there. Will I get defeated by those smooth walls with cracks, or will I conquer it? I knew deeply in my heart that I will not accept any defeat. I will eventually crack those cracks!
I got invited to go there over Halloween, but my son had 2 parties that weekend, so deeply disappointed I excused myself. Luckily, my good friend (a first person I met in a storage unit when I was moving to Colorado) Michael Covington offered that he would be more than happy to go climbing there with me the following weekend. And I had 3 days off! Surely enough time to figure out crack climbing. Patience is not one my virtues.
Newspaper Rock is an obligatory visit. The rock climbing starts just pass this site.
Our first day - Supercrack ButtressWe arrived around noon and set up a camp at Bridger Jack Campground. The campground was lovely, tons of space, amazing views, gratis camping (I did donate money to Friends of Indian Creek afterwards), but my donation was voluntary. We had wonderful views of both Six Shooters. And there was climbing right there above us, on Bridger Jack Mesa.
We set up the tents, made a nice lunch and took off for my first Indian Creek crack experience at Supercrack Buttress. It was pretty late, so we had a time only for one route. Michael C. chose Twin Crack - a nice climb with two cracks next to each other, rated 5.9, and about 60 feet long. It was not so bad! I actually like it so much that I did it 4x!
There were many climbers on Supercrack Buttress, and it was interesting to see so many climbing parties, some people just sitting and smoking and watching, and some hanging on difficult cracks with a little progression during my observation. A nice place to hang out.
I wished to have more time for climbing, and of course I was hoping to try the most famous climb on this wall - Supercrack (a.k.a. Super Crack of the Desert) 5.10 wide hand splitter. There were people on it, oh well...some other time.
It is amazing to watch Michael Covington climb. He moves so smoothly, he appears so confident about his moves, and he placed one gear on 60 foot climb - a nut! I heard that you need to have like 8 # 1 camelots for one crack, and here this old man flies up and places one nut! Obviously, he got some comments from close by observers. We finished the day with a nice dinner and a bottle of Pinot Noir by the fire. Michael C. finally started to feel comfortable to tell me about his past, about his climbs, his guiding. It took him over 3 months. I had no clue initially about his accomplishments, and was amazed how much respect he was getting in the local climbing community. Finally, I got some more insight and directly from him. This guy has climbed with Yvon Chouinard, Doug Scott, Reinhold Messner, Royal Robins, Layton Kor and many, many others. Wow! I heard those names before.
2nd day - Donnelly Canyon
Our first climb was Binou's Crack, an easy 5.9, about 50 feet long, rated with 3 stars in the guidebook. He lead it again with his old rack, and he placed one hex on his way up to the anchors. He told me that it was his strength - moving fast and feeling comfortable with placing minimal gear. He has done in this way for more than 50 years, no reason to change it now. I found no difficulties with this crack, and after experiencing it several times I was ready to challenge another one.
What a surprise! I ran into my boss at the Chocolate Corner crack, another 5.9 at Donnelly's Canyon. No, he did not like me asking him to give me one more day off, but I tried. My boss took Monday off instead of me! And he got punished. As I was watching him struggle on Chocolate Corner, his pants ripped on his ass. No, I actually felt sorry for him. He is a great guy, and we love to discuss our adventures in work and let patients wait. We have our priorities.
Our last crack of the day was Elephant Man 5.10 route. My boss and his friends were amazed as they watched Michael Covington climbing it without being belayed, and I kept talking to them. Well, why to belay him immediately, he is not going to place any gear until about 30 feet high up, and it will be some super old hex. I will put him on the belay then. We all admired the experience and the confidence which this man possesses. And yes, I wanted to look cool, but deeply I was worried. What about if he would slip? He did not.
3rd day - Time to pack
We had a pretty luxurious campsite, and it took us a long time to pack. I started to complain a little bit. I wanted to climb so much more, and Michael C. just patiently looked at me and smiled: "What are you talking about. You climbed yesterday 3 different cracks and each one 4x times, that is 12 pitches. Just relax". So, after another huge breakfast, and all packing up, we decided that my buggered hands needed a break. We went to check out the slabs. Friction Slab area is the first rock climbing area you see when driving into the Indian Creek. It features 4 climbs, protected with very widely spaced bolts, and fixed anchors at the top. It was nice to try something different.
I loved my first Indian Creek experience, and can't wait to go back there. There is so much to do! And the towers below need to be climbed.