Monday, March 5, 2012

Indian Creek Education

This year I have been strangely compelled to work on my weaknesses and seek out the obscure and ignored.  So keeping with these themes, I went to Indian Creek with Joe Mills and spent the weekend getting schooled by splitters and wandering along the base of neglected walls.

The first day, we went to the 2nd Meat wall.  After warming up on a nice 5.10, Joe suggested that we jump on a stunning 12- called Camping Under the Influence.

10+ warm up.  Anyone know the name?
Camping Under the Influence
At most areas 5.12 is a very comfortable grade, but at the creek it's my project.  Especially, when the crux is a ring lock boulder problem right at the chains.  So Joe styled up the crack, and I flailed on top rope, cursing through the last 20 feet.  On my second go, I taped up, and tried to tap into the extra motivation that being on lead can provide, but still fell towards the end.  Frustrated, I clean the route, and decided to enjoy the education that the Indian Creek was offering.  Thus, the tone for the trip was set.

Me in my old man, anti-skin cancer outfit
The next thing on our agenda was a 12- off width called Carnivore.

Shamefully, in my 17 years of climbing I have never tried an off width crack so I was excited, curious, and a little nervous to hop on such a hard crack for my first taste of this style.  Anyways, I headed up Tube Steak Tomorrow 10+, anchored in and brought Joe up.  After exchanging gear, he headed toward the gaping roof with typical Joe Mills confidence, and then just below the roof gear issues, and sheer difficulty eventually added up and he slipped out of the maw.

Perplexed, he tried a number of permutations to the problem, until he gave up and aided the pitch.  Apparently, Indian Creek was offering Joe an education too.  I am sure he took some notes.  With the sun low on the horizon and my legs numb from hanging for over an hour, we packed up, and headed back to camp.

Joe and Boone enjoying a moment.

The next day, we trudged up to the Disappointment Cliff to try a 13- finger crack called Winner Takes All.

Winner Takes All

Joe onsighted it with minimal issues and I found myself hanging on the rope, crippled with pain.

It was Indian Creek whispering climbing lessons to me again.  It said, "tape up."  So I did, and it felt much better.

With his confidence high, Joe wanted to try a 13+ ring lock crack called Hong Kong Fuey.  So we slowly wandered left of Winner Takes All and eventually found it.  What a beauty!

Unfortunately, we didn't have enough gear, so we headed back the other direction to find a 12+ called the Angry Inch.  Eventually, we found a nice looking line with anchors so Joe headed up.

Not the Angry Inch.
About half way up with none of his inch sized gear fitting in the crack, he realized that we were on the wrong route.  At about that time I noticed a plaque that indicated the route was called Dangerous Lesions.  Ooops!  After some heroic aiding effort, Joe reached the anchor.  I tried top roping this thing but the tip jams, and fresh edges on the crack were way too painful.  Not sure what the Creek was trying to tell me. 

Completely humbled, we skied down the loose, dusty slope and enjoyed all the strange rock formations and animal tracks in the damp river bed that led back to the car.

Sunset at camp.
Found these tracks at camp.
Our last day was spent at the Battle of the Bulge trying to squeeze a bunch of pithces in before the 7 hour drive home.  We quickly warmed up on Binou's Crack(5.8) and then cruised up the ultra classic Dos Hermanos(11+).  Looking for a bigger challenge, we both went up Ruby's Cafe(13-).  I had forgotten how thin and painful the jams were and struggled the whole way up my first go.  This time Indian Creek told me that I need to wear better shoes on thin cracks, so I did and my second go was infinitely better, even though I was extremely tired. We ended our day with a super fun, thin hands crack called Crack Attack(11-).

As I was jamming up this climb, Indian Creek told me to forget about learning and just enjoy the movement and scenery.  At the top, I silently promised to return for another lesson when my skin grew back.

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