This past week, Jessica Campbell and I immersed ourselves in the red sandscape of Indian Creek. The Utah desert left it's mark on our limbs, our minds, and even our souls. What a special place.
For seven days we scampered up juniper covered talus cones, branded our hands in burnished splitters, and hardened our soft bodies on rope stretching swaths of ruby red wingate. Jess and I were both as off the couch as we have ever been. We felt weak and a bit out of touch with the stone. With only seven days to climb, I awaited a major beat down. Jess didn't know what to expect as she had only climbed a route or two at The Creek before. Needless to say, 150 foot physical pitches don't allow for easing into the game. The first few days were the bloodiest. The cracks peeled away our soft skin and our muscles cramped. I whipped off an old favorite, cursing the route I used to warm up on years ago. Jessica's ankles shook and swelled. Every move took us further into our pain cave, but also closer to the core of our desire. Our time was short, but we wanted to send a cool line or two. We had to brush away the rust, no matter the torquing cost.
Off the couch and onto the rock on 3 AM Crack (5.10), our first pitch of the trip
By day three I felt my body coming around. Jess started to get a grip on the techniques the parellel cracks of the desert require. We notched up the difficulty and started to dream of something more demanding.
Myself on the super classic, Spark Of The Tempest (5.11+)
Whenever I go on a cragging trip, my primary goal is to find a line or two that really inspires me. A route to dream about as I lay under the stars at night. A wide swath of stone with stellar rock, elegant moves, and a great position. A line I just have to do. On day six I let my inspiration take me to the chains of "Sparking Spurs". Although it wasn't a mega send, 140 feet of solid 5.12 above the wild west moonscape of Indian Creek seemed an effort to be psyched about considering how out of shape I was. Most importantly, I was thankful to be coming out of my injured haze and to be pushing myself on the rock again. Just to have the health to climb is something to recognize and never to take for granted.
A couple shots of Sparking Spurs (5.12)
Jake Tipton on Lone Spark (5.11-) and myself, high on Sparking Spurs
Meanwhile, Jessica proudly dispatched her first leads at The Creek and by the end of our trip was following 5.11+. Of course, the routes I suggested to Jess were all hard and full of difficult sizes. She never complained or wanted to choose routes that better fit her hands or style. I was proud of her good attitude and strong will.
Jessica readies her self for her first lead at The Creek, Run For Your Life (5.10)
Jess leading Wounded Knee (5.10+)
Despite all the great climbing we did during our week in the desert, the highlights were the friends, old and new, who we shared the walls with each day. For me, nothing beats choosing a cliff over black, dusty coffee, spending the day climbing beautiful line after beautiful line, and making burritos with other Creek Freaks as the silver moon rises. To share the joy of our passion with others absolutely has to be the pinnicle of our sport. I can't wait to sink my hands into those splitters again, cheers the day's climbing with warm Tecate, and watch as the Utah sun paints the sending light over each cliff and valley. Man, I can barely wait.
Jess and I on our last day...I don't wanna leave!!
River loved Indian Creek too! Jess and Rivs on a rest day in Canyonlands NP