By Greg Murphy
Jim Herson's phone calls were becoming increasingly frantic and desperate. I felt like I was working for a suicide prevention hotline. Jim needed a crack climbing fix to bring him back in from the window ledge and he needed it immediately. After conferring with Annie, a mission of mercy was approved and the flights to Utah were booked. Before we had even been stopped for speeding (no ticket!) and before the intestinal effects of the Subway sandwich were felt, Jim was pleading for extending our stay in the crack climbing mecca of Indian Creek. As the father of a 2 year old, I was well prepared to deal, firmly if necessary, with Jim's epic mood swings, depression, whining, demands, tantrums, ravings, etc. For me, the climbing trip would require a delicate balance of discipline coupled with compassion.
After buying about $1,000 worth of food for Jim and Ibuprofen and beer for me, we arrived in Indian Creek and went to work. First up, after multiple rounds of negotiation, was the Fin Wall with about a dozen high-quality splitter cracks and corners. I don't remember much about the climbing except we spent a lot of time racking the gear. After settling on a suitable rack, Jim would remove THE most critical pieces to ensure a safe arrival at the belay. Let the record reflect that I never once said "I told you so" after Jim desperately scratched to the belay after looking at another groundfall from 150 feet. If you don't believe me, look for his fingernail marks in the last 40 feet of "Alley Cat", a classic 5.12 which Jim flashed. I'd like to say he only did this once ....
And so we proceeded from one perfect climb to the next including the Fin Wall, the Tenderloin Wall and the Cat Wall areas Three days of climbing one pitch cracks with perfect weather in a spectacular location. We both agreed it was as close to Yosemite perfection as is possible. Highlights include "Skid Row" a 5.12a layback to an undercling roof experience, "9-Lives", a steep tight hands splitter that goes on in unrelenting fashion for 150 feet, and mostly every other route we did. The tally includes two 5.10s, six 5.11s, and six 5.12s for 58 stars. Not up to our usual volume but still ok. A good tune-up for the upcoming Joshua Tree trip and the Valley spring season.
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