Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Indian Creek Crack Gets You High.

Awhile ago I wrote several blog posts about Route 211, one being about Bridger Jack Mesa and the Six Shooters. Not only are these popular for hiking and exploring, but very popular with the climbing crowd. Now it's time to introduce you to the area that truly gets climbers high on crack...Indian Creek, the premier area for crack climbing. What!?! What did you think I was referring to when I mentioned "crack"?

Let me get a couple of maps posted here, so you can see where and what I'm writing about; that way I don't have to reprint location instructions that I've already done on those previous blog posts.

Indian Creek is the most sought after crack climbing destination in the world; the long parallel splitters and corners in Wingate sandstone; just the sight of them gets a climber's adrenaline pumping hard. Personally, my experience with crack climbing is simply...none; I prefer ledge climbing (is that a technical climbing term, I don't know) due to the abundance of hand and foot holds.  Looking straight up a sheer rock face, frankly, gives me vertigo and scares the bejesus out of me. 

Here is a little information I found out about this sport: Crack climbers use a technique called jamming to ascend natural weaknesses in cliffs, or naturally occurring fissures in the rock surface. Cracks vary in width from thin cracks that are the thickness or size of fingers, to wide chimneys that are climbed using feet and hands pasted onto opposing walls. Some climbers go "free hand" without using any rope or equipment; others using standard climbing equipment.

Some standard rules for the Indian Creek area are: Bring all your own water, pack out all of your trash (including bodily waste); bring in and take out all climbing gear.  There is a 14-day limit for camping on BLM Land; public toilets are located at Newspaper Rock, Needles Outpost and within the Canyonlands National Park.   Do not harass the cattle, ranchers or wildlife; stay on designated trails to keep from walking on, and destroying, the cryptobiotic soil.

How about I shut up for a little bit and give you photos of the area; traveling down Route 211 is wonderful, but it's when you turn one of those corners and see the vista coming up before you...

Bridger Jack Mesa and the Six Shooters are to the distant left.

Now for you climbers, get an eyeful of these walls that will call to you like the Sirens of Greek mythology.  You know you won't be able to resist.

Now see all that broken up rock and sand at the bottom of the walls; don't be fooled into thinking there isn't that much there, or it's a piece of cake to climb.  Personally I have gotten as far up as where the broken rock meets the sheer rock faces; looked straight upwards and said a big, "oh hell no" and scurried back down to level ground.

Now here's the funny story part; a couple of years ago I went out there with someone who had just moved to the area.  He (in his 20s) kind of snickered when I told him of my rock climbing exploits, me being "old" (in my 50s mind you) and overweight.  Took him to my favorite area (BLM constructed a parking area there) in Indian Creek and he got all excited about climbing those walls; so off he went.  Well it took him a long time to get to the base of the walls and he was pretty winded; and there I was a little ways nearby, sitting on a boulder and I asked him, "what took you so long?"  The shock on his face....priceless!  Though I've only been out here a few years, I bothered to get to know the area better than most locals.  I also have become acclimated to the higher altitude.  So, don't be snickering at anyone until you truly know what they can accomplish.

Bottom center of photo; there is someone standing on a boulder to give you perspective of the size.

Whether you're just visiting and want to see incredible sights; or a climber itching to get high; make sure to get down Route 211 to the Indian Creek area.

Mary Cokenour

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