Holy Crack!

Photo of a crack line we climbed.

Time is starting to fly. While we still have a solid nine weeks ahead of us, we cannot believe mid-June is approaching. They say time flies when you are having fun, but we rest assured as we revisit our ‘itinerary’ that will lead us to August. We still have (at the least) 12 key spots we want to hit!

We finished out our time in the Moab area by visiting Indian Creek, a crack climbing mecca. Indian Creek draws climbers from all over the world to its 1,000+ climbs. The place is home to clean, beautiful splitter cracks in striking red rock, along with huge chimneys and off widths. Indian Creek this time of year, however, is empty. The temps rise to over 90 degrees with little shade to meet reprieve. So, we stuck to our alpine (early morning) starting style and hid in the shady crags for climbing. Despite the heat, Madi (three years old) enjoyed pointing at every lizard she could find and Toby, in his wise 10 years of age, slept at our feet as we climbed.

It was so good to be back to the Creek – we easily found a campsite on Friday night (June 3), set up ‘shop’, and prepped our gear for the next day. We are happy to say we now have a solid campervan routine! In a typical day, depending on our location of camp, we have to set up and tear down twice in order to drive to the climbing/running/biking area of choice. What does this look like? Pull in, level out, take bikes off back rack, pull out gear/clothing/random crap bins, let the dogs loose, pop up the pop-up, set up camp chairs, laydown camp rug, prep dinner, cook dinner, eat dinner, drink a beer, do the dinner dishes, sort gear, pack gear, prep on-the-go breakfast, transform the couch into bed, and crash. In the morning, the process is essentially backwards…minus the beer : )

The first day in Indian Creek, we climbed in Donnelly Canyon, home to more moderate crack climbs. Neither of us are well-versed in higher-grade crack climbing, but have enough experience, technique and strength to muster through! One of our goals for this trip is to push the grade on trad. What a lot of people do not realize is that alpine climbing typically requires moderate trad strength and skill. What makes the alpine climbs difficult is typically the approach, altitude and elements. So, to arrive in Indian Creek to climb 5.10+ crack? Was a bit of an adjustment for us! We taped up our hands and had a blast working back into this style of climbing.

Eric leading the fun 5.10+ line I struggled with.

Crack climbing truly requires its own style. Hand jams, toe jams, finger locks, arm bars, and a whole lot of hanging on your skeletal system. And, each line is different – every crack varies in width and length, making each climb harder or easier depending on your hand size equaling your technique. For me, personally, being more experienced in sport climbing, which does NOT involved jamming your precious appendages into gaps in the rock, I had to revisit my technique. The second day in Indian Creek we enjoyed the shade at the Reservoir Wall, which is home to harder crack lines. One particular crack we climbed, Unnamed 5.10+, was the perfect crack size for Eric’s hands. However, when I roped up, I struggled. My tiny hands, forearms and feet were shoved and twisted into the rock again and again. I got worked and left with abrasions and swelling on my hands/arms…but I was happy to finish the route well after following Eric’s incredible lead.

It was clear after these two days in IC that Eric and I’s crack climbing skills were coming back! We are very excited to visit this great place again in the fall…once it is not 90+ degrees. After climbing on Sunday, we eagerly jumped in the van to drive to our next destination = Lake Powell. Beach time and direct access to beautiful blue water? We could not wait for the break from the heat.

Sunset at Lone Rock, Lake Powell.

But, on the way, the air conditioning in the van stopped working – classic. We drove through the most desolate stretch of desert as it scorched over 100 degrees outside, the windows rolled down, the music blasting. We made it, looking fly I am sure, and pulled up to the water on Lone Rock Beach, being greeted by a cool breeze and friendly fellow campers. We went through our routine, cooked hamburgers, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

One day at the lake, however, was enough. We enjoyed a short recovery run along the beach in the morning and by 10 AM, were ready to jump in the water, running clothes and all! We knew we were in for the long, hot haul for the day. The reprieve from the heat (at least while in the water) was welcome but as neither of us are good at sitting still for long, we were ready to hit the road to the next destination and get back on the rock. Zion was calling, but only after we made a quick stop and fixed the A/C (or so we thought, more on that later).

Enjoying Lake Powell!

To Zion we went, but not without a stop to Buckskin Gulch. Buckskin Gulch is home to astonishing narrow canyons, sweeping red rock and the iconic ‘Wave’ feature (Google it!), which we did not have the time or permit to hike to. Instead, we opted for an out and back, three and a half hour hike through the gulch. Wow. The further and further we hiked, the more interesting and remote the gulch became. We started early enough (around 7:30 AM) that the light was just starting to peak through the wavy, water shaped rock as we hiked 200 feet below. Within the canyon, the temperature was a cool 50-60 degrees. The dogs were suddenly full of boundless energy, for once not being rained on by the burning sun. We took our hiking sandals off to walk in the soft, pink sand. Every so often, the narrows would open to a sweeping amphitheater with impressive, sheer red walls. As much as I would like to paint the picture for you with words, it was awe-inspiring and indescribable.

And THEN, to Zion we went. As we sit here in Goodyear, waiting for the van’s A/C to be fixed (hopefully for good!), we have realized that it is hard to write these blogs when we have so many big, small and unique adventures to share. Stay tuned for more on Zion, then Vegas…then the High Sierras, Big Sur, Yosemite, wine country, Lake Tahoe, Cirque du Towers (Wyoming), Glacier National Park, Bugaboos (Canada), and who knows where else! We hope you are enjoying our blog and pictures. We hope, too, that you all are well and enjoying where this summer is taking you. Due to poor internet connection, we cannot load more recent photos, but we will attempt to do so soon.  Cheers and be back shortly!

One Comment on “Holy Crack!

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