The Desert Beckons

Hannah Trim (14') traversing high on Jupiter Cracks. Photo David Fay (13')

Hannah Trim traversing high on Jupiter Cracks. Photo David Fay 

Dirt, sweat and blood. Three elements that run unimpeded in the desert. Blood from battling up off-widths and squeezes reminds me that I still have much to learn. Sweat from the steep approaches and unrelenting sun which I track as it moves across the sky. And dirt. That red dirt is everywhere. The wind carries it and despite tarps and cars and picnic tables, it coats everything. This doesn’t let me forget that I have been to the desert.


But I take my time getting out there. Dwelling in the anticipation of adventure. Holding onto that tranquility before the storm. Because once I arrive in Indian Creek I know that I won’t be able to hold myself back. I won’t leave until the dirt, sweat and blood overcome me and I must leave.


I am jealous of Hannah Trim and Matt Zia who can spend a month in the Creek. Not only because they have the time to do it, but also because they have the patience to climb in moderation. That way they don’t burn out. They dig in. They make Indian Creek their home and pace themselves as each day comes and goes.


I woke up Thursday morning five miles outside of The Creek hours after the sun had hit my sleeping bag. I moved leisurely, eating richly and arriving at the message board just after noon. I had not planned very well. But I was ready to climb. Only I stood in dire need of a climbing partner. As happen-chance may have it, JD Merritt, Parker Schiffer, William Rushton, Ibby, and Axel Bjerke bumbled into the parking lot just as I made this realization. JD’s SUV was packed to the brim with climbing gear, camping equipment and boxed wine nearly falling out of the car as they opened the doors. This marked the beginning of CC’s annual Block Break pilgrimage to the Creek and an opportunity for me to relive my college days as I wrangled up some climbing partners.


David Fay deep in the 5.12- squeeze chimney that is Liquid Sky. Photo by JD Merit

David Fay deep in the 5.12- squeeze chimney that is Liquid Sky. Photo by JD Merit

And boy was it great to be surrounded by stoked climbers. William led an off-fist crack in the dark by headlamp. Ibby climbed her first cracks. Everyone got to talk smack around the campfire. And JD and I made a run at Liquid Sky. After sending the 11+ off width I contested that my butt was physically too large for the narrow squeeze. My scars and a core shot in the rope prove that I had tried. But we still wanted to summit. Linking the final two pitches of Lightning Bolt cracks to meet Matt, Hannah and Chris Dickson atop the North Six Shooter was nothing short of hero climbing. Amazing position, fluid movements and great company made this day spectacular.


After reliving the glory of a block break in the desert it was time to part ways. As everyone piled into JD’s car to head back to the springs, I stepped into my car. Once again alone, traveling onwards. Leaving the Creek, I pulled over at Wilson’s Arch. The ridgeline had caught my eye years ago. I began climbing. The first move was the hardest, but secure. From there fun and exposed scrambling brought me to the top of the arch. I enjoyed the fleeting solitude juxtaposed to a residential development and a highway. I knew nobody around here would follow me up the arch. I sat down. Once again holding onto that fleeting sense of adventure as the rest of the world spun madly on.


One thought on “The Desert Beckons

  1. Noticed your name (same as mine) along with your webpage. Some really wonderful photos. I used to climb a lot, mainly when I living on the east coast and then for five years in Boulder Colorado. Things do change. I’ve been a professor at U. Wyoming for the past 15 years and have basically stopped climbing. But I still enjoy many other (less risky) pursuits in the outdoors with my wife and kids. Anyway, keep up with the adventures!


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