Crack climbing is one of those things that provokes a lot of “that’s what she said” jokes no matter who you’re with. They all come out, and everyone’s true colors shine ever so brightly.
Crack climbing is different everywhere you go. The rock is different everywhere you climb. Indian Creek is probably the truest test of crack climbing I have ever undertaken. I was immediately intimidated the second we walked up to the base of Super Crack. This was the first climb we were attempting in Indian Creek. The classic deserves that much.
Two other guides and I were on a work-trip and had a few days in between guiding, so we decided to head out to The Creek while we could. It was an unusual trip, and there were only three guides total: Mollie, Dakota, and myself. Dakota’s goal this summer was to lead Super Crack, and Incredible Hand Crack. These are two of the most classic routes in The Creek. We got to The Creek by the mid-morning and climbed Super Crack. Dakota led Super Crack flawlessly like the deity he is. At least he was polite enough to set up the top rope for us. Mollie climbed it next, and then it was my turn. This climb, for some reason did not appeal to me at all. It looked too wide. From the ground, it looked too wide for me. For most, it’s perfect hand size, and it’s the most magical climb ever. For me and my tiny hands, it was way too big to handle [That’s what she said.]
I tried it regardless of how much I knew I was going to struggle. I was on top rope; I had to.
Dear God I thought my limbs were going to disintegrate before my eyes.
I was stuck in a cupping hand position the entire route and it was just weird enough to start rolling my tape gloves off. It rolled my whole left hand tape glove off of the top of my hand. It tore the velcro off my climbing shoe. It tore into my ankle. It tore apart my soul I think. It humbled me in ways I’ve never been humble…I was never even arrogant when it came to crack climbing to begin with! I was determined to work my way up this climb no matter what agony I faced while doing so. I found a rhythm and managed to move up maybe three feet at a time. I was not the happiest camper ever. I said things I have never even thought before.
Things came out of my mouth like, ‘sasquatch whore!’ What the hell is that?
After climbing Super Crack, we headed back to the car to find a campsite with some shade. It was late July, after all. Shade meant trees, trees meant a perfect hammock spot. This would be the first night I get to camp in my hammock! We found the perfect campsite with plenty of shade. However, the trees that provided said shade were like 30 feet apart from each other. This is bad for hammock-ing. Oh…we’re climbing guides. We just went canyoneering…we have like 60 meters worth of static rope for rigging and rappelling in the car. No problem. We napped, then we decided to head back out into a crag called, The Gash. You read correctly. We found ourselves on a route called Slut (of course). We climbed, and we conquered, but everyone probably climbs that route…
We made our descent in the dark, not really thinking how awful the approach had been when we hiked up. The scree here was obscene, and there was cacti everywhere. We were fortunate to make it out of The Gash alive.
That night at camp, we saw the craziest thing in the sky any of us had ever seen. We all thought a huge meteor or something was crashing into Earth. It looked like huge pieces of something unknown to us were just burning through the sky! It shortly burned up entirely in the atmosphere and nothing ever hit the earth I guess, but it blew our minds and we were slightly worried about what we were going to drive back into civilization and find! Silly us, it ended up just being space debris…human caused space debris. Lame.
The next morning, we packed everything up and headed back to the Super Crack Buttress area. We climbed Incredible Hand Crack, Coyne Crack, and Twin Flakes. My body was so sore and I had the worst gobie ever from Super Crack, so I didn’t lead anything this day, but I still felt fortunate to get up everything. Incredible Hand Crack was about the same size as Super Crack…that size is my arch nemesis. However, Incredible Hand Crack felt a bit nicer for some reason and I figured it out pretty quickly. Coyne Crack was very, very thing, but it turned into perfect hands for me (.75) all the way up… I still didn’t know what to do with my legs though [That’s what she said].
Twin Flakes was my jam. It starts out very slim fingers, opens up a bit to hands, then you find yourself hugging this wide flake and working your way up. One wonky mantle maneuver, and then it opens up wide for the big boys. The big cams, I meant. Size 3-ish, and then to about 4 maybe. It was wide enough for me to get in some amazing butterflies and even some chicken-wings.
By the way, if you’re reading this, and you’re not familiar with silly climbing lingo, I apologize for the strange things that must be going through your head.