The South Sixshooter
One morning in Indian Creek, over at that fine, fine camp site they call Hamburger Rock, eight climbers sat around a morning fire.
The fire was warming the air and the desert sun was beginning to coax the friends out from underneath their oversized puffy jackets. The french press had been filled and drained, filled and drained, and filled and drained. Stomachs had been contented and all seemed in order, save for one thing:
The climber's didn't know where they wanted to climb.
Ideas were halfheartedly lofted around camp.
"How about Cat Wall?"
"We could go to OG Meat..."
But motivation was low, and none of the ideas seemed to catch - like the ashes and sparks from the fire, they simply faded away, lost in the swirling haze of hot air. All of them, that is, but one.
"Hah, we could always party climb the South Six."
This spark drifted, but it didn't fade. It kept coming back just as the climbers thought they had laughed it off.
"What if we each just took one cam?"
"And didn't tell anyone else which cam we were bringing."
The spark had caught.
The friends searched their hearts and minds and racks. What cam was the right one?
The orange piece that saved their life? The tiny yellow one that protected the crux move of their greatest send? The black one that should have been retired long, long ago and which definitely should not be trusted now?
Another deliberation stood before them, but this time each had to face their decision alone. How can anyone choose just one color from the rainbow?
One by one they made their choices ...
and packed their packs.
Atop the cams, they packed the one thing climbers need more than ropes, that McGuffin more necessary than climbing shoes, the only item more sacred than gear:
Lots of booze.
Unsafe levels of booze.
With their backpacks as heavy as any other climbing day and yet lacking all of the gear, they loaded into trucks and set off down Davis Canyon Road. The hard, rough dirt trail delivered them to a wide, dusty wash, and three Toyotas screamed down a road that wasn't a road.
The wash was as wide as a two lane highway but softer than a white sand beach. There were no speed limits, no sharp-turn warning signs, and there was definitely no one foolhardy enough to be without their seatbelt.
The South Six and the Davis Canyon Wash
Some time later the approach, the first crux of the climb, had been sent. Coach made it to the top, and he began the party. He began the party, and never again did the party stop. There was music and there was dancing.
When everyone had made their way to the base (with Coach screaming down encouragement every step of the way), the climbers arranged themselves in something like a circle and brought out their gear, one by one.
Nate had brought an orange Metolius that stopped him from hitting the ground.
Jack, too, had brought an orange Metolius.
Matthew Steele, a.k.a. Coach, changed things up by adding an orange Metolius to the mix.
A pattern was emerging.
Things were looking grim around that circle. With three pieces of the same size - one more or less useless for the route - the "adventure climb" looked like it might really turn into an adventure.
Luckily it was Emily's turn to break out a piece. She reached within the folds of her white lynx coat, and withdrew a blue camalot. Its appearance was met with much applause and jubilation. The already-drinking crew of climbers just might be able to build an anchor.
Reese and Enlow went next, and they brought out another blue camalot each. With six cams and yet only two sizes, those who had already told their tales turned to the last of their number, Thomas, in hope.
He spoke thus:
"I brought my whole rack because safety is important to me"
And there was much rejoicing.
Sending The South Six
The Coach blazed the way to the top, and sent the Beer Crux well before the beer even appeared. Canadian Nate followed, Jack wallowed, and then the beer crux was born.
On Top Of The World
And there they were, with everything laid out beneath them, and backpacks full of alcohol beside them, and nowhere to look but down and out. They looked across valleys to the South's twin in the North, and watched the shadow of the South Sixshooter spread over the wash, their way back home.
The friends sat, drank, did their best not to fall to their deaths, and soaked it all in.
The climbers rappelled, hiked, and climbed back down under a full moon. Back at the trucks they traded out climbing packs for dance shoes.
And they danced, and they danced, and they danced the night away.
Creeksgiving and the people I spend it with are very special to me, so I wanted to do something special to remember it. I hope this post goes a little bit of the way towards showing my gratitude to Reese, Emily, Jack, Matt, Nate, and Thomas for that day in particular and more generally for ten days of the best life a dirtbag can ask for. Love to Brittani, Rob, and Laura who were a part of our crew but unable to join in on all of the party that day.
Big thanks to Thomas and Matt for volunteering up their photos to enhance this story.
Matt's photos make up the "Sending the South Six" portion. Good thing the first man up had a camera!
The cover photo, the long shadow of the South Six, and the dance party are all compliments of Mr. Woodson.
Oh, and so is this one that I couldn't just not include.