I consider Indian Creek a huge project, and was hoping that someone would make a SP page before me, so I kept waiting until I lost my patience.
I will welcome any input from frequent visitors to the area, and please consider this site as a “work in progress” – I will keep adding photos, routes, crags, and information. Luckily, my home in western Colorado, allows me frequent visits.
Indian Creek is the undisputed home of crack climbing, A.K.A. crack city. It is the perfect cragging destination in the U.S., and hosts a wide array of classic climbs like the famous Supercrack, and towers like North and South Six Shooters.
Climbing Cracks may seem like another sport to some, it is so different from the face climbing, but once you handle this skill, you start to feel that a rock without a crack is naked, and almost insecure.
Cracks of every size and difficulty split the Creek’s stunning cliffs of red Wingate Sandstone. Rating is hard, you don’t see the typical 5.10a,b,c,d rating – it all depends on the size of your finger, hand and its fit for the crack. The same crack can be an easy 5.10 for some, and a difficult 5.11 for others.
Some say that the climbing in Indian Creek is world class and that the camping is even better. And for those, who don’t climb there are many other things to enjoy: pristine desert scenery, Indian Petroglyphs, abundant wildlife, and unmatched night skies. The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park is nearby making this a great family destination too.
A popular misconception of climbing is that it requires great strength and nerve. If that were true then the strongest men would be the best climbers, which is not so. Strength is obviously an asset to a climber, but the most important thing is a combination of the mental ability to work out technical problems, physical suppleness and agility and the right amount of confidence. The first two of these qualities are quiet common, and are demonstrated on the smaller boulder problems which are found below most crags, but a combination of all three is quite rare.
To the people who are bitten by the climbing bug, it becomes more than a pastime. It is a way of life. One tends to become disconnected at work and to live only for the weekend climbing. Many climbers have given up good jobs which interfered with climbing. It is very difficult to analyze the reasons for climbing. Each person feels differently about it, and feelings change from day to day. Perhaps it isn't necessary to have a reason. Many times I have heard climbers say, "What would life have been like if we hadn't started climbing?"
Joe Brown "The Hard Years"
The Anasazi Indians lived here for hundreds of years. Many of the buttresses bear traces of their ghosts in the form of house ruins and petroglyphs.
Newspaper Rock is 200 square foot (19m2) rock covered by hundreds of ancient Indian petroglyphs. It is one of the largest, best preserved, and easily accessed petroglyph places in the Southwest. The first carving at the Newspaper rock site were made around 2,000 years ago, left by people from Archaic, Basketmaker, Fremont, and Pueblo cultures. The exact nature of these symbols meaning is still not clearly understood. But they are typical of many sites throughout the Southwest. The drawings consist of animals, human figures and many inexplicable symbols – a six-toed foot? Some believed that six-foot people were giants, and there are many places around the world documenting six digit humans.
6 digit giants from around the world
Petroglyphs at mile marker 4
There is a small pullout on the side of the road, and a small trail leading to the petroglyphs on the cliff ahead. The approach time is less than 5 minutes.
Anasazi Ruins near the Sparks Wall
Turn onto Beef Basin Road (same as driving for Bridger Jacks or Cottonwood area wall), continue on country road 107 until the Sparks Wall, about 3.8 miles. Look at the South Cliff, you should be able to spot Anasazi ruin from the road.
After turning onto State Highway 211 from U.S. 191 there are numerous abandoned buildings beside the road. These structures are remains of a religious colony “Home of Truth” founded by Mrs. Marie Ogden. Marie founded the Home in 1933 after arriving in the area with her followers. To become a member of the Home one had to give up all personal property for the use of the group, and if one chose to leave, nothing was returned. All worldly ambition was abandoned and one had to abstain from liquor, tobacco, and sex, and contribute labor for the common good of the colony.
Among Marie’s colonist was Mrs. Edith Peshak who had joined the Home with her husband in hopes she would be miraculously cured of her cancer. When Mrs. Peshak died in 1935, Marie asserted that she was not dead, she claimed that she sensed “vibrations” in the dead woman. Colony members prayed over her body and tried to bring her back to life. Marie was hearing messages from the dead woman, so she decided to take care of the corpse. The corpse of Mrs. Peshak was placed in a nearby cave where three times a day a community member washed the corpse and sometimes even fed it.
Rumor of the happening soon spread throughout the state. As time passed the rumors became wilder and wilder. Soon Sheriff started to investigate the situation. By this time the corpse was partially mummified. The son of Mrs. Peshak wanted to burry his mom. This never happened, perhaps because his father was still a colony member and clinging to the hope that his wife would be brought back to life. The report stated that the mummy was not a menace to health since it was so well preserved; Marie was able to keep the body.
But rumors ballooned and the Home of Truth shut down to all visitors. Slowly colony members began to leave. By 1942 there were only seven left of what was once 100.
1937, Mrs. Marie Odgen announced publickly that Mrs Peshak was going soon to return to life. The vibrations from the dead woman had become much stronger. State authorities demanded a death certificate and to give up the body. A man named Tommy testified that he had been present at the final burial of Mrs. Peshak; the body was burned. Tommy also told that he had been very interested in the mummy, and before the cremation he dug a couple of vertebrae from its back. The horrified reporter asked Tommy if he still had them, to which he shook his head and said: ”A damn sheep dog snitched them from me.”
So, don’t be surprise if you see ghosts over there ☺.
From the North: Take exit from I-70 to Higway 191, going through Moab. IC (=Indian Creek) is located 40 miles south of Moab. Turn on Higway 211.
From the East: Highway 128 from Telluride to Naturita, then Higway 90 west through Paradox Valley, which becomes 46 when you cross to Utah. Then take Highway 191 south, and Higway 211 west.
From South: Highway160 west from Durango to Cortez, then Highway 491 from Cortez to Monticello Utah, north on Highway 191 for 14 miles to Highway 211 west.
This one is perhaps too much advertising for Marmot, but the First Ascent of Supercrack is definitively worth watching. You can see this clip in Supercrack Buttress section below.
|David Bloom is the author of Indian Creek: A climbing Guide. The first edition was well received and forever changed the face of climbing guidebooks. The first edition was the kind of book that you'd want to keep on your coffee table and pick up to drool over time and time again - as written in one on-line review. This was the first full-color guide in the US. The book captured the aura and the feel of The Creek and allowed readers to dream of the place they weren't there. The 2nd edition has more descriptions (documenting more than 100 new routes, and new walls: The Sinbad Wall, Shock and Awe Buttress, and the Selfish Wall), and features even better photography. There are also some new assays by notable Creek personalities.And the 3rd edition will be coming up soon.Indian Creek: A Climbing Guide 2nd edition by Sharp End Publishing|
I know so atypical to start describing a crack climbing area with friction slabs, but this is how it comes in order when arriving to Indian Creek.
It is 12.8 miles from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 211 to Friction Slabs, and about 1/2 mile from Newspaper Rock. The approach time is about 5 min. Slabs are well visible from the road.
There are several routes. I climbed only Sundance 5.7, which is a long run out (2 bolts on 70 foot climb). David Bloom's guide book describes at least 3 more slabs, rated 5.9, 5.10, and 5.11R.
I enjoyed stopping there on my way home when my hands got too beat up from the cracks, but again not typical climbing for IC.
This is one of the first wall with nice cracks and very close to the road. Approach time: 5-10 minutes.
Mileage: 15.4 from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 211.
Some of the best petroglyphs are adjacent to climbs at Blue Gramma - please respect and help to preserve. Most of the routes are 5.10 to 5.11 range. There is one 5.9+. The IC guide book describes 14 routes, 8 named "Unnamed".
Supercrack Buttress is one of the most popular areas to climb at Indian Creek, named after the famous Supercrack.
Mileage: 16.3 miles from the junction of Highway 191 and 211. There is a nice big parking lot (shared with the access for Donelly Canyon), the approach hike is short on a well maintained trail, and there is a high concentration of nice 5.10s.
Supercrack - the climb that started it all! In 1976, Indian Creek was a little known, dried-up, ancient riverbed in southeastern Utah, but Supercrack changed it all. Supercrack of the Desert - the route was first ascended by Earl Wiggins, Ed Webster, and Bryan Becker and at the time the trio were joined by Stewart Green and Dennis Jackson who documented the ascent with photos and film (see below). The date was November 1976, the Creek was still there to be discovered and it was Wiggins who established "a new frontier of desert sandstone crack climbing".
It is worth remembering that camming devices hadn't been invented at the time - the revolutionary Friend was invented by Ray Jardine and Wild Country two years later - and so the route was protected with hexentrics and nuts. Perhaps it's worth remembering that the line was also given a different name - Luxury Liner - but in the end this didn't stick: Supercrack was simply too nice and representative. The original route lead to the rim of the crag. Nowadays few climbers make the effort to climb all the way to the top.
Supercrack is the world's most photographed and desired crack climb!
Supercrack Buttress is not only one great crack = The Supercrack. There are more than 45 routes ranging from 5.9 to 5.12. I climbed several routes here, the easier ones, and observed climbers on others. My problem at the Creek is that after a couple days, my hands are so beat up, that I cannot climb anymore.
Donnelly Canyon is a good wall to begin your tour at Indian Creek. This is another popular wall with a high concentration of moderate routes. The approach is short and well marked. The parking area is the same as for Supercrack Buttress, there are toilet facilities at the parking area.
Mileage: 16.3 miles from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 211.
The sister buttress to Supercrack as the book says, but with more 5.11s routes. Home to three of Indian Creek's testpiece cracks: Ruby's Cafe, Disco Machine Gun, and Air Swedin. You can use the same parking lot as for Donnelly Canyon and Supercrack Buttress. There is another small parking area 0.1 miles down on the left side of the road. The approach time from the parking lot for Supercrack and Donelly is about 5 to 10 minutes, the trail starts close to the road, and is easy to follow.
I have not personally climbed there, so would really enjoy an input for this area. 5.11s are still too much work for me (couple of climbs would waste me for the rest of the trip). I just wandered along the cliff base on a hot day, and there were not climbers at all. We took a nice break with Duchess inside the Cave. Plaques with route signs were missing here.
Another popular wall with mostly 5.11s. The book describes at least 47 cracks ranging from 5.9 (only one) to 5.12. This wall faces south east and is located just before the Dugout ranch. The approach trail takes about 30 min.
Mileage: 18.5 miles from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 211.
The guide books says: A stellar wall with something for everyone, at least 45 routes ranging from 5.10 to 5.13.
All climbs on the Reservoir Wall should be approached from the parking area opposite the Beef Basin turnoff. There is a small parking lot. Pass through the gate and go slightly right on a good trail.
Mileage: 20 miles from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 211.
Reservoir Wall on Mountain Project
Named after the catlike formation that sits on top of Reservoir Wall and faces Cat Wall. There are more climbs per square foot here than any other buttress in Indian Creek. The cliff is so wide there are two distinct trailheads.
Mileages from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 211: 20 and 21 miles. The cliff receives a lot of sunshine (excellent for cragging in the winter).
The guide book describes more than 80 routes, 5.10 to 5.13 range.
Take a right turn on the first dirt road past the Fin Access - across from Bridger Jack. There is no sign, and you can see a gate from the Highway 211. Please close the gate so cows don't get out. This is BLM land and I have seen people camping out there although there is no official campground over there. Go 0.8 miles down a road/wash until it forks - to the right would be access for the Six Star Buttress. Go left and park soon. The Selfish Wall is left of Six Star Wall and right of Disappointment Cliffs. Hike left of the wash along a bench on a well maintained trail. Follow the trail, which will bring you close to Hand Solo climb. Approach time is around 15-20 min.
Mileage: 22.2 miles from the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 211.
What a name! "Meat Walls", so there is a: First Meat Wall, Second Meat Wall, Tenderloins, Original Meat and Sacred Cow Wall, all located next to each other. I climbed only at the 2nd Meat Wall, which is per report the best.
First Meat Wall is a seldom visited cliff, and is an extension of the left side of The Disappointment Cliffs. It is almost always in the shade. The book describes 10 climbs, ranging from 5.10 to 5.12.
Second Meat Wall called the filet mignon of the Meat Wall group. The cliff is shaped like a semi-circle, so it is possible to follow the shade or sun, depending on the season.
Turn right on the first dirt road after Six Star Canyon. Close the gate behind your vehicle. Follow a good dirt road. You will see Second Meat Ball right in front of you. The approach time is about 15-20 min. There are more than 50 routes there, ranging from 5.9 (only 1) to 5.12.
Dow's SP page on 2nd Meat Wall
Tenderloins This may be the smallest of the Meat Walls, but its lack of size is more than made up for by the quality of the routes. The book describes 16 routes, mostly 5.11s, a couple of 5.10s.
Original Meat Wall The wall for people who think that # 3.5 Friends are perfect hands (huge hands). It is shaded in the afternoon, and easy to combine climbing on Sacred Cow and Original Wall. The guide book describes 20 routes, mostly 5.10s and 5.11s.
Sacred Cow Has a lot of morning shade. The book describes 13 routes, mostly 5.11s, and few 5.12s.
This cliff is not as popular, and typically uncrowded. The rough 4WD road leads to its base (right across from Superbowl campground). There is a huge potential for new route developments, and many new routes are put up (not mentioned in the Indian Creek guidebook).
Most routes are named after scenes from the famous movie Princes Bride. The cliff has a very obvious prow which allows you to climb in the sun or shade based on the conditions.
Drive 1.3 miles past the Meat Wall turn-off. Turn right on a dirt road (across to the south would be a turn off for Superbowl campground, unsigned). The road is rough and ends up at a small parking lot.
There are two desert towers towards the end of Indian Creek - North and South Six Shooter Peaks. South Six Shooter Peak is one of the easiest desert towers in the area - 5.6 climb. The southeast face of North Six Shooter Peak hosts of the classic desert tower routes Lighting Bolt Cracks 5.11.
Both peaks are visible from the main road through the Creek. I will not write any descriptions since they have their own summit post page.