Indian Creek | Part 1

Indian Creek | Part 1

Indian Creek 2016 Photo Gallery. Well worth it. In fact, I'd skip the post and just go there.

Two trips to Red Rocks, a good tour of Limekiln Canyon and the St. George region were all behind us, with only ten days until the band broke up as Disa flew out of SLC. It'd been a good tour of the American southwest desert climbing scene, but it obviously wouldn't be complete without going to the world's most famous sandstone splitter destination: Indian Creek.

It's going to be a challenge to live up to the last Creek post, but bear with me. It'll be fun to compare what interested my lens this year versus last...

Before we dove in, Disa and I spent a day refueling in Moab. We stocked up on food (too much food!), water, and Euro tape. Shane, the red gyps, rolled into town that evening to begin his own desert season. We three caravanned to the desert in the dark and snagged a great campsite that various gypses held down for the rest of the month as characters came and went.

Shane at Superbowl #1

From here, each wall is a new day. Have fun!

Supercrack: That First Day, Undocumented

I wrote this entire post before I thought "Wait, didn't I climb at Supercrack Buttress for the first time on this trip?"

The answer is: yes. I did. I just don't have a single photo from there.

Shane, Disa and I were up at the wall warming up on a long wide hands crack (poor Disa's first splitter. I always sandbag the small handed) when I saw a man wandering about in the parking lot below.

"Will??" I shouted


Sure enough, it was he, the beardless wonder, last seen in Wild Iris.

Image definitely not taken in Indian Creek

"What," I hear you say, "Beardless? Jahncke?"

It is true my friends. His face was like a newborn babe.

Tasty lookin'.

We styled the following creekings: No Name Crack (3s), The On-Slot, The Wave, and the eponymous Supercrack of the Desert. I thought I was running out Supercrack like a gangster, but ended up with no gear on my harness by the time I was at the anchor. A bold rack the Bloombagger recommends.

Later that night Dave rolled in and I got to do that thing I love doing so much: introducing my friends to my friends. It's an ever-tightening web I weave.

Hey Meow! Cat Wall

Will, Disa and I climbed a few 5.10s (Catmandu? + an Unnamed 5.10), and I started to realize I hadn't been trad climbing in a while.

Wilhelm and Disa chitty-chatting at Catwall

Shane and Dave set their sights higher:

Bachelor Party, 5.11+

From tips to hands, with a boulder problem start. I got thrashed, Dave's head got worked, and Shane sent.

King Cat, 5.11+

I watched Nate climb this route last year only to catch his tragic (and pretty) whip at that cruel finish. Dave had better luck than Nate and got it on his second go, and I got to clean the anchors on TR, my first time on the route.

Who's a happy boy???


Dave, Shane and I went up to Optimator the next day. Rainy skies kept us from climbing anything outside of the Annunaki corner, but that was fine with Seamus, who hadn't gotten the RP yet. All three of us stepped in front of Ft. Collins locals Simon and Meg to warm up on the route, and cruelly redpointed on warmup in front of the man who was projecting it.

Dave split for the day after that, but Shane and I also did Mudslide, a great widehands crack that was of much higher quality than the book would suggest.

Disa and Will may have rested this day? Where were you guys?

Annunaki, 11+

I was happy, after all my spray about Annunaki, to still be able to put it away on warmup - although I won't pretend I didn't have moments of doubt. Thank goodness for those wristlocks.

dave annunaki wide

dave annunaki plant

As I said, it went well for all three of us. When Simon, whom we got to know as time passed under the pillar, was ready to give it a go the skies had darkened and began to let loose.

simon wide 1

simon tall and wide

simon tall

For his second (or was it third?) attempt, Simon's luck was still out.

The rain picked up and we four bunkered down.

the outdoors wet
Shane and I shot the shit, uninterested in hiking out in the wet. After a good length of time waiting out the weather, Simon surprised us by deciding to give Annunaki yet another attempt.

How deep do this guy's reserves go?

Anyways. Away and up he went.

His audience was slightly larger this time around. Every other party that had thought to go to Optimator that day ended up sheltered in the pillar's grotto.

But, Simon seems to be a man who performs under pressure.

I am incapable of imagining the burn his arms must have been feeling with four laps on Annunaki. Every time I heard his cries of effort or saw his core begin to lose tension, I knew: this is it, he's done for.

But, Simon didn't seem to give two shits what was going on in my mind. Even as I kept doubting he kept moving up.

And up.

And up?

He sent. الله أكبر

Battle of the Bulge Buttress

The party split again on our third day. Will and Disa went off to climb more moderate routes in Donnelly Canyon while Dave, Shane and I rocked out at BoBB.

Jane Fonda's Total Body Workout, 5.11

We did this route at my behest: I had last tried it on my first Creeksgiving after watching Emily fight up it with a rack as big as her.

I confirmed that I am a much better climber than three years ago. So that's good.

Big Baby, 5.11 Oh dubby.

Shane and I got on Big Baby after it had received a proper gangbanging compliments a boombox-wielding crew from SLC. Shane's uponsightings were pretty great. He made it look casual.

in bw


Not to say he wasn't working, of course. Sure, brother knows how to milk the no-hand-rest on his knee, but I heard his "Daddy's tired" as the end of the route loomed.

knee jam


Back at camp that night another Laramite rolled in. He is known as the Jewlion.

Broken Tooth

I do so love this wall.

I'd say Disa and Will "missed out" on it, except that they were off having a grand adventure going up the South Six.

I warmed up by repeating Gold Crown, and was happy I'd brought aid gear when a cam at the lip of a roof (who put that there? moron.) ate the rope on the lower and Dave had to jug up to unstick it.

From there I ran over to watch Shane put up Mondo while the Jew gave him a belay.

Gave him a belay and a motivation dance, I should say.



I have a hard time writing that without following it up with "Beyondo".

Anyhoo, this bad boy opened up with steep overhanging fingers made more difficult by the fact that Shane was pulling up a whole lot of #4s for the rest of the route.

This was the first thing I'd seen Shane get on that had clearly made him doubt himself.

the "that was hard" face

From there, the fists seemed simple enough for Mr. Miller, but the fact that the route was four 'Voo routes stacked up obviously worked his endurance.

Fists for days

Rock Lobster

Post photoshoot I reunited with Dave, who put up Polygrip for me. Repeating it was a dream. I noticed the belayer next to us on Rock Lobster giggling at Dave and my's gypsery, and soon had courted two more Creek friends: Cam and Megan. These names become important.

Last year, I'd passed on a TR on Rock Lobster thinking I'd save it for an onsight this year. Dave and I let Megan and Cam use our rope on Polygrip and in exchange I used hers on Rock Lobster. She instructed me to not "put any core shots in it," because it was brand new.

I completely ignored her request and proceeded to whip all over that sucker. Sigh.

What a waste.

Dave and I took some burnout laps on Rock Lobster, where I learned that I was incapable of sending even on TR, then he got himself all psyched for Broken Tooth.

Broken Tooth (The route this time)

Dave worked hard, Shane belayed, Julian and I lounged.

Ahhh yes, I thought to myself. This is what I like about Indian Creek. Taking in the vista more than smashing. But then, maybe I'm just a wuss.

another shadow selfie, cast over Tooth Fairy

I'm setting a pattern of taking a photo of this wall in the sunset once a year.

Reservoir Wall

Wahoo, somewhere I'd never been before. Shane took a rest day after burning out on Mondo, and poor Julian had his truck break (literally) down right as we were pulling out of Superbowl. Dave, Disa and Will rolled on to Resevoir to meet up with some neighboring campers, a friend of Julian's (Dom! he might be in some of those Mondo photos if you look hard) and our new best friends, Megan and Cam from Broken Tooth.

The view from Reservoir Wall to where we climbed our second day: Cat Wall

Meanwhile, Julian and I drove into Canyonlands where he used his good looks and charm to great effect and got to use the visitor center's employee phone to call up his insurance company and get his car taken care of. With the tow truck on its way I left him back at his wreck in Superbowl and took off to meet folks at Res.

I ran around looking for my crew and asking for a toprope lap on any hanging rope I walked by. A 3s crack, a 2s crack, and then I found Dom, Megan, and Cam. Those three put up Pente and then I managed to recruit them in my search for Dave, Disa and Will. We found my original compatriots all the way over at Excuse Station.

Excuse Station

With the day winding down, Megan was gracious enough to let me shoot her as she laughed her way up 5.11 thin hands. A gaggle of climbers were hanging out below and there was a crew from Washington climbing next door.

In the middle of shooting the Megs I looked straight across and had to take advantage of the backdrop Jack Taylor was giving me of No Excuse.

Megan finished her climb in style and disappeared with Cameron, neither of them ever to be seen again. Dom and I took turns belaying each other, cleaned the route, and then cleaned up the base.

I ended up rooted in place as the sun touched down on the other side of the Bridger Jacks, watching it fend its way through the sharp towers of Indian Creek and Canyonlands.

The walk out in the dark with Dom may be my strongest memory of that day.

Walking in the dark... it's good for you.

The End

The next morning a very morose-looking David was cooking breakfast. When I enquired as to the face he was making, I found out who the next president of the United States would be.

Big D and I played Tetris putting everything back in the van. We said our goodbyes to all the good people of Superbowl and made the drive to Salt Lake, stopping in Price to buy tasty cheap groceries for dinner. And so a day had passed.

When we woke up for her flight it was still dark out. At the airport, Disa made herself some sandwiches with bread that smelled like cake. Before she left she made it rain the cash monies in the tiny aisle between Ahab's seats.

And then like that, I had said goodbye to the first of my desert season compatriots.

I hear these days she's out chasing whales and powder in the land without a sun.

I spent ten days in Salt Lake making money, staining wood, and crimping electrical wires.

Then I went right back into the Creek for my favorite holiday of the years.

Next up: Indian Creek Part 2.

Matt Enlow

Matt has a camera, a home on wheels, and this website
Down by the river