As fall marches on, the weather is cooling off, and for many of us, that means one thing: it’s Creek time. We spent last weekend getting reacquainted with the style down there, and I was reminded of some tricks I’ve picked up over the years that I thought I’d share here:
Despite what some of your crusty friends might say, tape is NOT aid. Tape is a reality of wanting to climbing numerous days in a row on rough Wingate sandstone. I generally use it on anything hands or bigger, but when it’s thin I like to be able to get as much purchase as I can and usually go without. With refined technique, you might find you need it less and less, but once you tear skin, those gobies can take a long time to heal, so don’t be afraid to do what you need to to preserve the precious little skin you have on the backs of your hands. True Creek connoisseurs often have a brand of tape they are preferential to, as any old variety just wont cut it. Arguably the best is offered by a company called Curity, which makes medical grade tape that’s incredibly sticky and wont roll up on you, which can make things more painful than if you hadn’t taped in the first place.
Anyone who’s spent any time climbing splitters knows the truth: crack climbing is painful, especially on the feet. To succeed in the desert, you need to stack the deck in your favor, and a large part of that involves dialing in the right footwear. Watching a new-to-the-Creek friend try to shove a Miura into a crack this weekend, I was wincing in discomfort, vicariously experiencing the pain their toes must have been going through. Everyone’s got different opinions on the matter, but generally for all around use you want something that is comfortable, with your toes as flat as possible while still offering a good fit. Mythos are popular, and many Creek rats swear by Moccasyms, as the narrow profile allows you to get that much more of your toe inside the crack. Personally, I roll with two pairs, Moc’s for anything in the two friend and smaller range, and TC Pro’s for anything bigger. Figuring out the right footwear can border on an art form, but once you get it right you’ll find you can climb better without being distracted by the pain in your feet.
Even if you are only hitting the place on the weekends, you’ll want to do all you can to make sure you are recovered for your next trip. If you are spending prolonged time down there, then it becomes even more important. For gobies, something like Joshua Tree Climbing Salve is essential. It speeds up the healing of your abrasions, which you hope you don’t rip off again next pitch. Another essential tool is a Theracane, as climbing at the Creek blasts your big muscles groups, and it’s perfect for working out the kinks and keeping everything running smooth.
The classic Indian Creek pitch offers around 150′ of jamming fun, and racking up at the base it sometimes feels like you are loaded up for El Cap. The last thing you want to do is add more weight to the situation, but you know you can’t get off with a single 70m. As long as the route is relatively straight up and down, which most are, once you reach the top you can simply pull up the rope through the gear, and then drop it back down to pull up a tag line. It’s a little more work, but most would agree a worthy trade off versus having to trail a second cord. Another option is to think about a longer rope. We are currently testing an 80m Sterling 9.2, and so far have been impressed.
That’s all we have, for more tips and beta, be sure to check out the excellent resource Luke and Lizzy put together over at Dream in Vertical.