Lizzy and I are from SoCal and by no means Indian Creek locals. However a love for crack climbing has brought us to the creek for a wonderful week of climbing each of the last two years. Over these 15 days spent at the creek we have gained a bit of information that could be helpful to first timers. This is by no means a complete resource but a similar to CragReviews and TripBeta seen on other blogs. If anyone has other useful information please post up a comment. I will be doing a follow up post on good rest days around Moab, UT sometime in the next few weeks (though it took me almost 3 months to finish this post…).
Sorting cams before going to IC.
To say that climbing at Indian Creek is gear intensive really misses the point. The lengthy pitches, eighty to over one hundred and seventy feet, in addition to the the splitter nature of the cracks, require an immense number of cams. We have a pretty large rack by most standards, with at least five or six cams in each size, but we still need to borrow more. So before heading to IC, find as many friends as you can and plead with them to borrow all their cams. Most cracks are dead vertical and do not wander negating the need for quickdraws or slings. Also, the parallel nature of the cracks almost completely eliminates the use of nuts. There are exceptions to both of these rules and beyond hints from the guidebook you will often be able to tell from the ground if you need nuts or slings. At a minimum you will always want at least 2 quickdraws or a sling since most of the climbs have a bolted anchor.
In 2008 our rack consisted of four or five of each cam between Lizzy and I and we ended up borrowing around ten more of each size from friends. It was nice to have fifteen of each size but it was really overkill and heavy to boot. There are definitely climbs at Indian Creek that require ten or more cams of single size , such as Bunny Slope, Steve Carruther’s Memorial, and Christmas Tree but for the most most cracks have some variety so you only need six to eight cams of each size. For example, on the classic Supercrack you would bring a few small cams for the start and then around three #2’s, six #3’s and one or two cams in the #3.5 or #4 camalot range. According to the Bloom guide: (1)1.5 (1)2.0 (1)2.5 (2)3.0 (5)3.5
Once you work out having a bin full of cams you need to figure out how the different brands overlap. In a place like Indian Creek, where you have every size of crack, it can be beneficial to own different brands. Sadly our cam of choice, the camalot, does not quite fill all the sizes and in certain cracks the lobes become too tight or tipped out. We do not have this issue in the smaller sizes since we own many different brands of cams. The Bloom guidebook attempts to list approximate crack size in inches that directly correlates to the size of Wild Country Friends. Ill try to do my best to portray our experience with the cams we have used at Indian Creek.
Size, Size according to Bloom/Size in Inches, Cams listed smallest to largest per that size
|Sub Tips||0.10||000 C3, Ballnuts|
|Tips||0.20||00 C3, Black Alien, 00 Grey TCU, Ballnuts|
|Tips/Thin Fingers||0.30||0 C3. Blue Alien, 0 Purple Tcu, .2 MicroCamalot|
|Tight Fingers||0.50||Blue Tcu/Master cam, Green Alien, .3 MicroCamalot|
|Fingers||0.75||Yellow Alien, 2 Yellow Tcu/Mastercam, 2 C3, Grey Alien|
|Off-Fingers||1.00||Grey Alien, 3 Orange Tcu/Mastercam, .5 Purple Camalot, Red Alien|
|Stacks/ Thin Hands||1.50||4 Red Master Cam, .75 Green Camalot, 5 Black Master/Power Cam|
|Thin hands/ Tight hands||2.00||5 Black Master/Power Cam, 1 Red Camalot|
|Hands||2.50||2 Yellow Camalot, 3 Purple Friend|
|Wide Hands||3.00||3 Purple Friend, 8 Purple Power Cam, 3 Blue Camalot|
|Fists||3.50||3 Blue camalot. 3.5 (old) Grey Camalot|
|Fists/ Off Fists||4.00||3.5 (old) Grey Camalot, 4 Grey Camalot|
|Offwidth||> 4.5||4 (old) Purple Camalot, 5 Purple camalot on up.|
So in the chart above I listed few cams in multiple sections which is because of the lack of sub increments in the Bloom guide in the upper sizes. A 2.5″ crack will fit a #2 camalot perfectly but as that crack approaches 3″ there is a size where it is useful to have a #3 Friend or an 8 Purple Power Cam before you can get in a bomber #3 Camalot. This size is usually labeled 3.0 in the book but sometimes a #3 camalot will fit in a “3.0” crack. The same is true of the Black Master/Power cam which nicely fits in between a .75 camalot and 1.0 camalot. We usually use #1 Camalots when we see 2.0 in the book despite the fact that #1 camalots are closer to 2.25. So if you see a large number of cams in 2.5 and 3.0 or 1.5 and 2.0 it can be good to have one of the previously mentioned in between pieces.
Gotta have the crash pad for days in Big Bend.
So there is a lot of ranting about taping your hands when crack climbing. While some attribute tape to aid, others won’t climb without it. In many ways crack climbing can be painful as you torque your hand to fit in a crack since there is no hold to grasp and pull down on. Attempting to fill this void and get your digits to stick can be assisted by tape since it lessens the pain and in some cases makes it easier. Tape can easily change the size of your hands or fingers to allow them to better fit a specific size crack. As well taping helps reduce the amount of wear on your skin and often allows you to twist harder. The skin on the backs of your hands is important since practically every move of every climb of every day is a jam. Some may find exceptions with the occasional lay back or face hold but the reason people come to Indian Creek from around the world is the jamming.
For thin hand cracks I usually avoid tape since I need to sink as much of my hand in the crack as possible. However having a few layers of tape or a tape glove can make a hand crack much nicer. The same is true for fist and off-width climbing where tape is essential to the survival of your skin. Tape does allow a climber to be sloppy with their jams and can take away ones feel of the rock. I will tape my index finger and middle finger when doing finger stacks and ring locks to preserve my skin but I tend to climb finger cracks tape free.
At Indian Creek it seems best to start off with too much tape to save your skin while you hone your technique. As one gets more acquainted with each crack size you can decide if taping necessary.
Lizzy tapes up before the off-fingers Puma.
The most important part of your shoes is that they allow your toes to lay flat. Tight, knuckle curling shoes with thin fabric should be left at home. Since you will repeatedly be jamming your feet you want your toes to be in a flat position allowing the shoe to get as far in the crack as possible. If you have stronger feet and are climbing a smaller crack, I would suggest the Mocasyms. I wear these shoes when climbing anything thin hands or smaller. I prefer a stiffer shoe such as the Sportiva Barracuda for larger cracks. I haven’t gotten Lizzy hooked on the Mocasysms yet so she generally wears her Miura for everything small and Barracudas for hand cracks [yeah, and that's because Miuras are still the most awesome all-around climbing shoe ever made. period. oh, and also, I only wear La Sportiva. ~Lizzy].
My moc’s with a bit of Stealth Paint.
One of my experiments for this year was a helping of Stealth pain on my shoes. I was interesting in this product after seeing it on Ethan’s blog. Lizzy picked me up a package at the Five-Ten outlet in Redlands, CA and the night before we left I tried my best to coat my shoes. The kit includes a metal container of ground up bits of Stealth Rubber, a tube of Barge cement and some plastic applicators. I was hoping for a tube of pre-mixed stealth goo but to no avail. I mixed 2 spoonful of glue and 1 spoons of rubber in a disposable bowl. This instantly made a mess and the glue and bits of rubber were hard to mix into a spreadable substance. I mixed in more glue and tried to apply the rubber to my shoes. This did not work and the rubber moved around and did not stick. I applied a base layer of barge cement to the mocs to make sure the surface was nice and sticky and tried again. This worked much better and i was able to get a thick layer of rubber on my shoes. I still had extra rubber (from the 1st spoonful) which I applied to a second pair of mocs without the base layer of barge cement.
The fairly thick rubber on the first pair stayed on through the week of climbing at indian creek. Small holes did rip as seen above but for the most part I was successful. However the second pair, with out the extra glue, quickly lost the rubber that I had applied. When I try this process again I plan on adding glue to the shoe and then sprinkling the stealth rubber dust directly on the shoe instead of mixing in a bowl. I think this will let me apply a finer layer and it should spread more easily.
Find the Lizard!?! There are at least 10 in this photo.
Both of our visits have been in March and we have experienced a range of weather from snow to shirtless climbing. Around Moab the sun is bright and the wind can be quite chilling. It is fairly easy to chase either sun or shade since there are so many different crags at Indian Creek. If there is snow on the ground don’t expect the climbing to be pleasant in the shade. We found this out while trying to warm up on the far left side of battle of the bulge. We were wearing all our layers and were cold in the wind and shade while others were climbing shirtless around just around the corner.
Some crags, such as the Cat Wall have south-facing areas that trap the heat and can feel like an oven. It is best to figure out what time of year you are going before putting together a tick list. It seems that it can get hot as soon as April as you can see in a TR from when some of our friends went in 2008. While the fall and early spring seem like the best temps, many climbers chase the shade all the way through May and into the start of June.
Since all of the rock at IC is sandstone climbing must be avoided at all costs post rain. The rock wears easily due to it’s soft nature and water speeds up this process ten fold. The day it snowed we took a chance to explore some of the mountain bike trails around Moab. This was a fun alternative that was a good adventure despite a chilly breeze.
MOOOO! Cows are one of the major inhabitants of the creek
The main non-climbing use of the Indian Creek area is as a cow pasture. Negotiations with the local ranchers are done though the Friends of Indian Creek and the Access Fund. Since many of the crags are accessed through the ranch land make sure to do your part and close all cattle gates. It is important to keep good relations and pay attention to closures both due to the ranchers and bird nesting in the area.
Why does the deer cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off!
So far we have seen deer on every part of the the 211 from the exit off the 191 all the way past Newspaper rock to the bathroom at Beef Basin Road. Do be careful driving since the deer are often out in herds and are not afraid to cross the road right in front of your vehicle. Perhaps this is a Utah thing, since we saw herds of deer every day when we drove from Orangeville to the various areas of Joe’s Valley. We think that maybe they need to replace the “Frequent Deer Crossings” signs with something a bit more applicable like “Frequent Deer Herds”.
Food, Water, and Waste
There is no running water or gas stations within 30+ miles of Indian Creek. The closest small town, Monticello is about 15 miles south of the 211 – 191 intersection or about 30 miles away from the Beef Basin parking lot. Moab is a bit farther away at 40 miles north of the 211 – 191 junction and 55 miles from Beef Basin. Moab has numerous gas stations, a large grocery store, City Market, and many gear shops such as Pagan Mountaineering and GearHeads.
The desert around Moab and Indian Creek is fragile and proper waste disposal is necessary. It is not ok to just dig a hole where ever one chooses. I use paper grocery bags that are cut to about 4 inches tall which allows them to fold closed easily. After doing one’s business simply add some kitty litter deodorizer and put in a ziplock bag. This is a cheap way to make a WAG bag which is used in the video below. Taking a little bit of extra time to dispose of waste properly helps keep Indian Creek beautiful for years to come!
Have a safe trip!