“Breathe Skander, breathe. Then fight.” Damian called up to me for seemingly the fifteenth time. His words had inspired me up the route, so I didn’t mind the repeated commands. Earlier on the climb I was sitting on a #5 Camelot fighting to catch my breath, having just violated the first rule of offwidth climbing: it’s an endurance game of endless small movements that each add up to something beautiful.
Offwidths have long been strangely attractive to me, and despite being tired late on my sixth day of climbing in the Creek, “Green Eggs and Ham” is a beautiful, short 5.10 off-width crack that inspired me for the lead.
My rest day and the arrival of Damian and Darcy on Saturday, March 14 bolstered my confidence to get back into the teeth of Indian Creek climbing. More on the two of them later, but they know me from climbing and working in Montana, and were not going to let me get away with anything less than giving my best to this incredible place. We went back tot he cliffs, and I got on the lead end of the rope. I got scared, I fell on my gear, and I bled. It was awesome, and it changed my entire experience of the place. My technique improved, I started having more fun, and suddenly being in the place just clicked. It is some of the most spectacular climbing I have ever done.
Vicki, another Missoula friend and newbie to Indian Creek also showed up on Sunday, and with Dave, Damian, and Darcy, we continued to sample a variety of spectacular cliffs. After a few more days, I could tell my body was spent. I had just a little bit more, and I had always wanted to do the Easter Island tower in the Bridger Jack formation- it is short, classic, and fun. The spine of towers boasts a huge variety of routes, and Easter Island is the easiest of them all.
We met Ben and Mark from Grand Junction at the bottom, and they followed us up to make the rappel easier. I led both pitches and despite some very sporty climbing on the second pitch, we all had a pile of fun. It was Vicki’s first tower, and fun to have another party on top with us.
So much fun in fact, that Mark and Ben trailed a rope up Sparkling Touch Tower to let us draft off their lead. I didn’t have the lead in me, but was happy to follow and look forward to repeating the route- it’s burly.
Sitting in Seattle the desert feels far away but the lessons are close at hand. Grab the things that scare you and hang on for the ride. Many thanks to Dave, Damian, Darcy, Vicki, Mark, and Ben for being exceptional and inspiring partners.