Monday, May 30th, 2005

Indian Creek Revisited

Debby informed me that it was my turn to write a trip report, so here I am, pulling my hair out. It suddenly feels hard. The trip was too uneventful. Don't get me wrong. The trip was fun. In Alex's word: "Great climbing, great company and awesome food! Can't ask for more."

Debby and I flew out on Thursday evening after work and met up in Salt Lake City Airport with Alex who flew from Los Angeles. Having suffered a few days of sleep deprivation, all I managed to do before passing out was throw myself horizontally to the back seat of our rental Ford Explorer. They took turns behind the steering wheel and after five hours later, we were at the Newspaper Rock Campsite. Amy from Albuquerque, NM had secured a wonderful spot next to the Indian Creek. It was almost 4 AM. We were up by 8 AM on Friday and after a relaxing breakfast, we all marched to Supercrack Buttress, where we shot Alex up The Incredible Hand Crack (5.10) and The Wave (5.10+) with a rope for the rest of us to follow (ever heard of the term rope gun?), which was a pattern to be repeated for the next few days. He even did the unthinkable — hanging in his harness next to a climb just to take pictures of us following. When the sun crept over the cliff , we decided it was time for a siesta and retreated to the campsite. Three hours of chattering later, we had came to know each other's lives pretty well. The day finished with us climbing at Donnelly Canyon, where I led Generic Crack ( 5.9+/5.10-), Debby led pitch one of The Naked and the Dead (TNatD) (5.8/5.9), and we all TR'ed the p1 variation of TNatD (5.11+).

When we woke up on Saturday morning, the size of the group at our site had doubled as Mark, Dave, Mike, and Jessica arrived around midnight from Albuquerque, NM. Heading toward the shade, we found ourselves at Second Meat Wall. I led an Unnamed (right of Family Home Night) (5.10), when Alex led Cube Steaks (5.10). My 5.10 was much easier than his 5.10, for which I felt very grateful. Mike attempted the Unnamed #39 around the corner, but the coalition force between the beaming sun and the offwidth start proved to be more powerful than our seemingly undefeatable Mike (you'll know what I mean if you see his muscles). Sometimes, we just have to acknowledge of the power of nature. Fleeing the heat, we skirted the wall to the left, where Alex led up Tofu Crack (5.10) and then did another unthinkable — leading up an offwidth (to the right of Rude Dudes) that was not in the book. Could this be a first ascent? The offwidth looked strikingly beautiful, but most people were smart enough not to be enticed by its beauty… most people except me, Mike, and Debby, who got sucked into the suffering that only such a beautiful offwidth crack could create. A few days later when I went to work wearing a short sleeve T-shirt (I wasn't thinking in the morning), the scrapes and scabs that the cracks left in my arms raised quite a few suspicious eyebrows and quite a few more sympathetic stares (I hadn't even shown my legs yet). However, all the memory of that suffering was thrown out of our minds when we returned to the campsite, where Mark, the chef in charge, offered a gourmet meal that consisted of appetizers of various kinds, a stew of vegetables and chicken breasts, and a freshly baked apple pie with ice cream.

As the saysing goes, unless one has done all three classics (Generic Crack, The Incredible Hand Crack, and Supercrack), one cannot claim to have been to Indian Creek. The one missing on our list was Supercrack (5.10). No worries, because that was the first climb we bagged on Sunday. Alex led it first, and then did yet another unthinkable — finished the stout crack in 45 seconds on top rope. Afterwards, we swung over to Battle of the Bulge Buttress, where again Alex did everyone a service by putting up a rope on Crack Attack (5.11-) and Pigs in Space (5.10+). Calling the climbing day short, we drove to Moab, where plans for the next day were carefully made among eight people. For a while, the plans almost sounded too complicated for me to comprehend. But eventually, we managed to settle down to another gourmet meal that Mark put together including a freshly baked upside down pineapple cake with ice cream. Hmmm.. yummy.

The NM folks, in Debby's word, are a group of climbers with "a mountain biking problem." They lured Alex into joining them on the famous Slickrock trail on Monday morning, while Debby and I stubbornly drove north and west to seek more rock. We arrived at Maple Canyon to find ourselves and many climbers in the pouring rain. Without hesitation, we turned and headed north to American Fork. Again, rain. Many climbs were steep enough to stay dry, but nobody was there climbing. The steepness of the routes looked too insane for sane people like Debby and me to bother to try. We returned to our car. But right then, our luck turned. The climber-mountain bikers caught up with us and showed great enthusiasm in going to a SiChuan restaurant in Salt Lake City, Kylen, that Debby had heard about. Unlike the weather, the food did NOT let us down (Debby's note: all the good Sichuan food at Kylen is only available on the chinese menu!).

On our flight back, Debby said to me something like "it's your turn to write a trip report. … Well, I don't really know what to say about the trip." I felt the same way back then. But now, I am working hard to prevent it from turning into another long one like many of my others trip reports. There are always things to say about a wonder trip, I learned.

And now, you have to click here to check out Alex's photos! Otherwise, the sky will collapse!

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