Finding Peace in Misery Climbing at Indian Creek

It all started at 1:00am on Friday morning under a cloudless sky and a nearly full moon.

Indian Creek Crag DogWe were pulling into Indian Creek, and Shay wanted to climb an ultra classic route, Generic Crack, in the moonlight by headlamp. Why should I deny anybody else’s joy and life experiences just because I’m a little tired?

I changed my clothes, and we were quickly making our approach to the 120ft. splitter crack.


This is my 4th time at Indian creek. I vowed to never come back here after the first time. I hated it. I couldn’t do any climbs. I flailed on everything (on top rope). My friends made me climb things I knew I’d never complete. 

I don’t remember the 2nd time, but it wasn’t anymore enjoyable. 

Unnamed Crack, Cat Wall, Indian CreekI was passive aggressively forced to go my third, black mailed by the fact it was Shay‘s birthday. Also known as burrito weekend.

But I didn’t hate it that time. 

Mostly because my roommate came with and she’s pretty chill like me. She didn’t put me on anything I didn’t want to do. 

It was painful. I still didn’t do any climbs cleanly, but at least I finally found fun in the misery that is Indian creek. 


Cleaning Generic Crack after Shay’s successful and clean lead was the fourth time I’ve ventured to The Creek. This time, mostly voluntarily. 

It was an amazing experience. 

Indian Creek Gobie HandsI led my first 3 Indian creek trad pitches. All 5.10. (Which is about as low as they go.)

They were brutal. 

I hated every minute of them. 

Until I got down. And then it was euphoric.

I have 4 gobies on my hands that will now be with me for the rest of my life. 

I felt like puking more than once. 

The knuckles on my toes and my ankles were bruised and bloodied so bad from repeatedly jamming them in 2″ cracks and torquing them sideways in order to stand up, that it caused me to limp after each day. 

It was then that I finally found peace with how miserable this place is to climb. 

The Flow of Indian Creek

Everything about it is physically exhausting. It’s muscular. It’s technique. It’s endurance. It’s breathing. 

It’s life. 

Leading Quarter of a Man, Indian CreekThe heat of 100 degree weather in February didn’t bother me. The sunburn on my skin felt welcoming. 

Walking barefoot in the desert, powder-like sand and not caring how dirty my
feet were getting made me feel like a kid again. 

Having 5.11+ leaders tell me how proud they were of me, repeatedly, made me feel like I was actually a real climber. Finally. 

That pride and exhilaration I felt after each lead I did was incomparable to anything else I’ve climbed. Alpine is still risky and scary, but I do very casual routes. This was something different. 

This was a badge of honor. 

Because anyone that climbs in The Creek knows exactly what it takes to lead. Anyone that is still flailing on top rope thinks they’ll never be strong enough to lead. But then one day you do. 

And all that pain and misery that came before, is completely erased by the peace that comes with jamming your bloody hands into a crack only lit by the moonlight at 2:00 in the morning.

Leading Tom Cat, Indian Creek

Burrito Weekend in Indian Creek

When you think of happiness, what comes to mind? Puppies?  A married couple together for 55 years? Seeing your baby?

For me, it’s burritos. Burritos make me happy.

You know what doesn’t make me happy? Indian Creek in Utah.

It’s hot. The approaches are steep. It makes my hands hurt. It makes my body hurt. And in general, splitter cracks crush my soul.

I was tricked and manipulated into going back to Indian Creek, a place I said I’d never return. But this time was different. I planned to eat nothing but burritos for every meal over the course of the entire weekend.

  • Friday night on the drive to Utah: Chipotle and chips
  • Saturday breakfast: homemade breakfast burritos
  • Saturday crag lunch: Brownies and a banana
  • Saturday post-crag, pre-dinner: leftover Chipotle and brownies
  • Saturday dinner: more homemade burritos
  • Sunday breakfast: more homemade breakfast burritos
  • Sunday lunch: Gummy bears and a chocolate malt
  • Sunday dinner: burrito at Jilbertitos in Glenwood Springs
  • Monday lunch: another burrito from Jilbertitos


Of course, I couldn’t just live on burritos, which is why I supplemented with chips, brownies, and gummy bears.

Oh! The climbing and scenery weren’t terrible this time around either. I even attempted my first Indian Creek trad lead called Wavy Gravy, 5.10b. However, I bailed on it. There were 3 parties behind us distracting me and passively rushing us along. For me, that’s not a good time to lead, especially when I’m intimidated to begin with. Such is life…

Castle Valley Scenery

Castle Valley Scenery

Six Shooter Towers

Indian Creek Twitch

Indian Creek Twitch

Indian Creek Twitch

Trad Climbing Rack

Indian Creek Twitch

Indian Creek Wavy Gravy

Indian Creek Wavy Gravy

Indian Creek Happiness

Indian Creek Trad Lead

Six Shooter Towers

Indian Creek Cactus

Ancient Art Tower