My first trip to Indian Creek was in the spring of 2002. A relative newcomer on the scene compared to many, but it’s starting to feel like a little while twelve years later. I’m not particularly talented at crack climbing, but I love it with a passion that is not often there for me with other forms of climbing. The aesthetic lines, the physical nature of the climbs, the awe-inspiring landscape. Without question it’s one of my favorite places to visit.
On my last trip, as I stared out onto a vista I’ve seen countless times, it hit me how I’ve reached a point where each view, each vantage point brings with it a memory and flood of emotions. Glancing up at the Pods wall, I remember exploring this remote crag on a crisp November day, and the incredible splitter the wall is named for. Looking out from Optimator, I remember the time the two girls from Telluride walked up complaining about how crowded it was and then joined their group of twenty other friends who were at the wall.
The view of Cottonwood Canyon never gets old, neither does watching the sun set from Way Rambo, or looking up at the moonlight on the buttresses as we walk back to the car after another long day. And I could probably stare at the silhouette of the Bridger Jacks and Six Shooters at dusk for about a thousand years before I grew weary of their sublime beauty.
The time we spent several days in Hart’s Draw, only putting up new routes. Witnessing an incredible sunset from the Wall that to this day is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Walking in to Second Meat from the road because it was washed out, realizing that adding a mile to the approach really wasn’t that bad. Climbing at the Fin on Halloween in costumes (mine was a blue dress and blue wig). Seeking warmth at the Cat Wall on a cold and cloudy late fall morning. Chasing shade at 4×4 on an unusually warm November day.
It’s a place that demands my very best to succeed. It pushes me physically to the brink and mentally sometimes too. While it’s certainly pseudo-trad climbing, it’s still the desert, with less-than-perfect rock and sometimes sketchy choss or other engaging situations to navigate. It’s a place I seem to be able to find transcendence easier than others.
I had a moment on a recent trip, nearing the top of a 35 meter route where it goes slightly overhanging, resting on a locker hand jam. I glanced down, the sweep of the climb falling away below me, the corner awash in afternoon light, fading to dark at the bottom. It felt incredible to be in this exposed position, fully in the moment, completely composed and loving every moment of it. A visitor to a special place not many get to go.
I smiled, took a deep breath, and made the last few moves to the chains.