Spring 2011 Indian Creek, Utah

Herb, Shanti and Ed

Seeing as I wasn’t keeping a blog until recently, I am going to recount a bit about Indian Creek from last Spring.  I started the season in the Creek with a few Moab locals including local crusher Herb Crimp. In early March, we hiked to the Beer Wall where Herb immediately established Herb’s King Cobra — a bold and wild new line. He rated it 5.11+ which was deemed to be quite a sand-bag by the parties struggling to repeat it in the next few days. I witnessed some melt-down off-widthing going on as I worked on a nearby project. Not only did Herb get the FA onsight but he placed a hex.  Herb crushes. I completed a few FAs last spring as well: Break A Leg 5.12a, The Event Horizon 5.13  and Giulia 5.11+.

Herb Crimp on the FA of Herb’s King Cobra 5.11+ Photo: Jay Anderson

The Event Horizon 5.13

The Event Horizon 5.13 is a 2 pitch route on a tower-like formation about half way between the Blue Gamma wall and Newspaper Rock in Indian Creek. The route looked straight-forward from below, but as is often the case with invert offwidth routes that look casual it was harder than expected.  Pat had described EH as “a quick FA – an easy finger crack to an 11b offwidth roof.”  Pat was fortunate to get the first  first pitch.  His “ finger crack” turned out to be an unprotected 5.7 traverse into an overhanging tips splitter at C1.  Another 30’ of loose 5.9+ hands leads to an anchor at 100 feet just below the intimidating offwidth roof.

The second pitch is a 30° right leaning, 4″ to 5″ offset vertical grovel to an 8’ flared and offset horizontal offwidth roof. Pat made a bold on-sight attempt, but concluded that the pivot might not be physically possible. Although EH isn’t the most sustained offwidth in the desert, the pivot (the arduous process of uprighting oneself above the lip of the roof from the inversion) is one of the most unique, challenging and exposed I’ve encountered.  It required switching my leading leg mid-pivot.  I had never done anything like that before EH.  After numerous backwards, upside-down falls with my knee stuck over my head  I finally completed the pivot.

I felt that I was seeing the start of a new chapter in offwidth and in fact, all climbing… That double reverse pivot is the craziest fucking thing I’ve ever seen in climbing. ~Jay Anderson, describing the pivot on Event Horizon

Giulia 5.11+

Giulia is about 0.5 miles up canyon from the Event Horizon. It has a grueling start reminiscent of  the final ominous pitch of The Sorcerer 11+ put up by  Jim Dunn. It’s a 15’ sandy, flared overhang requiring a partial inversion to an offwidth pod. The route then turns into a chest crushing 9″ squeeze chimney requiring Craig Leubben’s side-winding technique and ends at a ten foot 9″ squeeze chimney roof that requires a partial inversion to surmount. The route is only 50′ but it feels like a hundred.  The crux for me was the painfully slow upward progress through the 15’ start while hyperventilating, and then battling the final offwidth roof while in tears. The crux for Pat was my out of control laughter when he climbed the first 15′ and announced: “what the HELL. I’ve been on here for half an hour and I’m at the same height as my belayer?!” The start is deceptively arduous.

Break A Leg 5.12

Break A Leg is on the far right side of the Critic’s Choice Wall. It starts as a 5″ crack and progresses to a tight squeeze chimney. The crux is a 15′ section of what looks to be 5″ crack but is inwardly flaring making it impossible to place gear. The only way to protect this crux section was to place bolts. Jay Anderson an Pat determined the bolt placements. The route still requires a rack of wide gear: I placed 1x #5, 2x #6 and one or two Trango blue Big Bros. It’s a great route but has some loose rock so be wary.

Pamela Shanti Pack on “Break A Leg” Photo © Nathan Smith
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