It's desert season! Which means it's time for road trips, too much sun, lbs of sand in my sleeping bag and “splitter” cracks, man... cue the road trip soundtrack - we're going to The Creek!
Indian Creek, which is a popular crack-climbing destination in Southeastern Utah, has seemingly endless walls that you can jam your hands, feet, elbows and knees in while pretending it's not the worst feeling in the world. It's fun....kinda! If you haven't been, here are six things you should know before going to Indian Creek.
- Come prepared. There are no facilities (except pit toilets at certain camp spots and trailheads), so make sure to bring enough water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, hydrating salsa, etc. It's also a good idea to bring a hat and/or bandana to shield you from the unrelenting desert sun...and plenty of SPF (pronounced spiff). Oh yeah, and tape...definitely bring tape.
- Find a campsite. Indian Creek is a popular climbing destination year round (with peak times in the early fall and spring) - so rolling in on Saturday mid-day will make finding a camp spot tough. Get there early, know you may need to cross a river or three to get there, and always always use an established campsite on durable terrain - aka opt for loose soil (not black crusty stuff) over a grassy space, and don't move the fire pit. Campground options include Super Bowl and Creek Pasture.
- Watch for grazing cattle. Seriously. Coming from NJ I thought this was a joke, but the main stretch getting into Indian Creek from Moab (Hwy 211) is a free range road - which means cows will pop out onto the road and decide not to move...ever. Please respect the cows, don't feed the cows, and certainly don't hit the cows. Especially be sure to keep an eye out when it's dark... your friends and your front bumper can thank me later.
Don't poop in the desert. The desert is a dry and fragile landscape, with limited opportunities for retaining water and overall growth. That's why you're supposed to pack yo poop out with you - or at least venture to a bathroom (Super Bowl campground, Creek Pasture campground, Beef Basin road, and Supercrack parking lot all have pit toilets). The dry desert soil makes it extremely difficult to break down human waste, so please use wag bags or pit toilets.
- A privilege, not a right. Some may not know, but it's a privilege that we are still able to access and climb on some of these walls because many of the main crags are located on private land. Climbing access has been granted by the ranch owner, Heidi, and can also be revoked - so PLEASE be respectful of this. Don't leave trash, don't go near the ranch, and certainly don't go where it's posted not to. Do your research ahead of time so you know where the boundaries and limits of these areas (which means pick up a guidebook where this is explained at length).
- Climb on. The Creek isn't known for having many, or any, moderate routes - so if you're a beginner (or an eternal beginner, like me), here are a few spots to consider.
- Blue Gramma Cliff offers shorter routes with a 5.9+ and a few 5.10's to get you started.
- Way Rambo has a 5.8 and a 5.9... They've each earned a few stars, too (which means there will be probably be a line).
- Supercrack Buttress is one of the most popular crags in The Creek, but also boasts a handful of moderates that are worth checking out - plus the approach is pretty straightforward.
- Donnelly Canyon holds perhaps my favorite moderates in the area including Binou's Crack (5.8), Unknown (5.9), and the Chocolate Corner (5.9+, short and all the stars).
Keep in mind that with the mass amount of cracks in the area, a guidebook is almost necessary to figure out what's what. What's also necessary is a "Creek Rack," which consists of 47 of each size cam (approximately), since many of the cracks are individually uniform in their size. Your best bet? Team up with some friends and combine racks for the weekend.
Tape up, hydrate and rock on (haha, get it?!)!