Indian Creek

nature, Outdoors, outside

So its been awhile since our canyoneering adventure. Since then we spent a few days in Moab, recharging at little cafes while it rained. We drove around in Arches National Park since it’s right outside Moab, but honestly I wasn’t blown away by the park. It was flooded with people, and all the hikes they offer have so many people walking on them it must look like lines of ants going to some huge drop of jelly from above. Moreover, due to roadwork, you can’t even drive to Devil’s Garden where the majority of the Arches are located. Nonetheless, it’s certainly beautiful and we did see the famous “Delicate Arch” that is on the Utah State plate. In retrospect, I think I wasn’t impressed because I’ve been in Utah for a few weeks now, and it’s covered with beautiful views that are only made better by the lack of people.

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Anyway, after Moab we went to Indian Creek which is located partially in Canyonlands National Park and Bears Ears National Monument (the main monument in contention). Although I have much to write about the current debate over Bears Ears, I have reached out to the San Juan County Commissioners (San Juan is geographically bordering Bears Ears making the commissioners are in direct contact with Sec. of the Interior Zinke), and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition ( the group who proposed the monument to Obama), and would like to wait for a response before really hashing it out in a post. So until then….

We traveled an hour south, and entered the 9 mile stretch of road that is surrounded by world renown crack climbing due to its expansive selection of aesthetic splitter cracks. Indian Creek is truly beautiful, and even with all they hype surrounding it in the climbing community, it’s big enough such that you don’t have crowds at the crags.

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Me on a splitter.

It was close to dark by the time we arrived so we decided to set up camp, and make dinner which consisted of five bags of ramen, two chicken for Eli and Madi, and three vegan oriental for Zach and I. Anyway, the ramen was fantastic, especially after Madi shared the beta of adding a few scoops of peanut butter to the whole mix. However, there is no running water in Indian Creek, everything is pack in pack out (you’re even suppose to poop in a bag). Thus the ramen, which we made the next day as well, took a big hit on our water supplies that were suppose to last for the next three days.

The next day we woke up, and drove up to South Six Shooter, a prominent, stand-alone structure of rock, jutting out of a mountain of talus, which sits upon a high mesa.

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South Six Shooter (Photo from summitpost.org)

We drove around confusing cattle roads and river beds before we found the main trail and drove around the east side of the mesa until we saw cairns resting on the side of the steep slope. Our parking spot had two cows in it, and as we pulled up they simply stared us down, until they randomly turned and went off bucking for twenty feet until they stopped to stare again. It wasn’t until we got out of the car that they really ran off.

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The cows leaving. North Six Shooter in the back. 

While Eli racked up, Zach and I worked on finding the best way to bring the drone to the top of the tower. We put it in sleeping bags, emptied 60 liter backpacks, turned it every which way, but it wouldn’t work. Finally, after extensive prototyping, we settled on putting it in Zach’s rope bag wrapped in a sweatshirt and puffy. And in my bag, I carried three liters of water, the rope, the drone propellers, and the drone remote control. After brushing our teeth, we started to hike up the mesa. The path was narrow with no switchbacks making me breath hard… If you don’t know me, you might think I’m in great shape and a fast hiker, but the truth is I’m awful at hiking. I mean just atrocious. Zach was behind me, but even with his sprained ankle he stayed right with me.  Anyway, we made it to the top of the mesa which gave us flat land for a good bit, so I took off my coat and refused to rest. Eventually we ascend the pyramid of talus as well, and by the time we got to the base of South Six Shooter we were startled by how small it was.

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At the base.

The collection of connected towers could be done in a single pitch if you went up one of the cracks. However, we choose the longer and easier way which gained altitude as you traversed from the shortest tower to the tallest.

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Route up (Photo from gearlooptopo.com)

The route was done quickly as Eli hardly placed pro, and Zach and I simu-climbed. Even though the climb itself was uneventful, the view was definitely five stars. Canyons of brilliant colors roll on as far as the eye can see.

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At the top!

And of course, we didn’t bring the drone up for fun. Zach, whom I trained to fly the drone so he could get shots of me climbing, got the drone from the rope back, while I set up the phone connection. He placed it a few feet away from us and up it went. Zach circled it around us, and panned out over the whole landscape.  When is was time to land, Zach hovered it above Eli, who grabbed it and gently brought it to the tower top, while I pushed the land button. #teamwork (The footage is phenomenal, so just wait for my cumulative video coming out next week).

Overall, the day was a success and we rapped down a little, summited both towers, and then rappelled to the ground. Eli climbed a beautiful 5.10 splitter on the face of the tower, and we descend towards another beautiful night of ramen.

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The Key to 5.10b??

nature, Outdoors, outside

So yesterday our gang woke up in SLC after staying the night in a friend’s house. Before we went south to Maple Canyon though, I insisted we stop by the huge Whole Foods down the the street, and Eli pushed for REI.

Per usual, I shopped by going down every aisle, and Zach acted as my basket, trailing in the electronic scooter-esque machine (trying to save his ankle). For context, Zach and I have maintained a relatively healthy diet on this trip by always buying the product with the least amount of sugar, eating vegan, eating tons of vegetables, and, I at least, have refused to eat any sort of candy or high sugar item. However, Whole Foods has a special place in my heart because I have an obsession with a lot of their vegan products you can’t get anywhere else.Thus as we walked through the cereal aisle, I began to crack. First I saw my favorite 365 brand cereal which amounts to organic and better tasting peanut butter cocoa puffs. Then I had to get chocolate almond milk, and the Unreal brand peanut butter cups that surpass Reese’s– even if you’re not vegan. But it really all fell apart when we came to the ice cream aisle. They had flavors of Nadamoo that I had never seen at home, and I needed to try them so I could report back to all my obsessed friends at home. Then Zach wanted the vegan Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, and Eli and Madi picked out Half Baked. But because I started to bicker with Eli about buying anything that wasn’t vegan, we there talking ice cream for a few minutes  when a Whole Foods employee came along and gave us four coupons for free Arctic Zero ice cream. So it ended up that four people walked out with seven pints of ice cream and no fridge…

I finished my pint of Nadamoo with relative ease, and Eli and Madi struggled to finish their shared pint of Half Baked because they are allergic to lactose (… Why didn’t they get vegan ice cream??) And Zach, well, he was going in on three pints total. He started with the Arctic Zero ice cream which ended up tasting like ice and dirt that was 115 calories per pint. After finishing my pint, I was forced to start eating the unexpectedly worst Arctic Ice flavor of Peanut Butter Cup, and I was not feeling good. Then a homeless person walked by, and I gave him a pint, but we still had six. With Zach somehow cruising through three, three were up to Eli, Madi, and I. But of course, because they were feeling sick (get vegan ice cream?) they couldn’t each finish a pint, so there Eli, Madi, and I were passing around the most disgusting ice cream ever. Madi ended up having to lie down after I force fed her bite, and Eli went in at the end taking the whole chunk of ice from the bottom of the pint and biting into it.

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During those final bites.

Anyway, we broke our diet.

Then after our stop to REI, I felt light headed and thought that going to Del Taco in this time of hardship would help. After a 8 layer Veggie my condition stabilized somewhat, but then we broke out the Cocoa Puffs and chocolate almond milk in the car. Anyway, once we found free camping outside of Maple Canyon, UT, we all called for a siesta. But after I got my sleeping set up ready (a sleeping pad and bag on the ground), I decided the only way to redeem this day in my mind was to push my climbing grade from 10a to 10b. So I found a wall called School Room that only had a three minute approach, and dragged Zach along to be my belayer. I climbed two 5.7s and a 5.8 and then decided it was go time. Maple Canyon, for those of you unfamiliar, is conglomerate rock which as the the guidebook says, “is a chaos of water-worn cobbles, some as small as cherries others as big as a Volkswagen bug, cemented in a matrix of petrified sand and mud”… It’s scary-looking to climb.

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Photo of Maple Canyon from Don Clark

Nonetheless, the 5.10b called Big Kahuna was short and overhanging. Before I climbed, Zach made me look at the rock and plan every move I could see, eventually creating a memorized sequence of movements up the wall. Then it began, I breathed deeply and sped through the part of the wall I had been able to plan for. But where I had expected to rest and figure out the crux-bulge on this protruding torso-size rock, I couldn’t. The rock turned out to be out slick and awkward to hold.

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Big Kahuna, you can see the big “rest” hold in the center towards the top.

So I pushed on, and Zach yelled at me to move my feet up as I swung to okay holds. After some grunts of determination, and encouragement from Zach I was at the anchors breathing heavily. The day was redeemed.

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At the top!