For The Love of Indian Creek

Apr 10 • Locations • 2796 Views • No Comments on For The Love of Indian Creek

“Holy, shit!” was all anyone of us could say.

A buddy of ours was showing us a ring off an anchor he’d recently replaced on Incredible Hand Crack, perhaps the most climbed route in all of Indian Creek. It was nearly worn entirely through.

by Luke Mehall, publisher of The Zine, and author of American Climber

An old bolt and rap ring cleaned from Incredible Hand Crack.

We were out at The Creek last weekend teaming up for an informal anchor replacement weekend, a small gesture to give back to a place that has given us so much. That ring seemed to be a perfect metaphor for the increased use that Indian Creek has seen over the last few years, and Sam fixing that anchor with some bomber new glue ins, provided by the American Safe Climbing Association (ASCA) was also a great example of the power of the climbing community: he fixed something very dangerous, and left an anchor that will be safe long after any of us are still alive.

Giving back to Indian Creek has become more and more alluring to me over the last few years. I’ve been climbing there since 1999, and I’ve noticed the increased traffic and impact that has— but also I’ve noticed how others have improved the area for the better. The beautiful trails that have been constructed by Rocky Mountain Field Institute and other groups, the conservation easements between the ranchers and groups like the Nature Conservancy and the Access Fund that allow us to climb on the walls, and the toilets that Friends of Indian Creek and many other individual donors helped pay for to reduce human waste in the ground there. (Note: all human waste should be packed out of the desert, it simply just doesn’t break down there. Bring a Wag-Bag out if you’re not using the provided receptacles.)

An old Banditos hanger.

So, fixing an anchor here and there is our tiny way to give back. Drilling bolts in sandstone is serious business, and I’ve noticed some terrifying things in the last few years, including a bolt on South Six Shooter that my friend pulled out with his hands. The direction of pull, and force over the years will move a normal expansion bolt out of its hole, which is why glue ins are the best long term solution for popular climbs (especially ones that are steep or overhanging and get a lot of top rope use like Scarface or Annunaki).

More and more people are fixing anchors at The Creek, and we’re keeping a database of what needs fixed where. (Feel free to add to this thread on MP if you come across a sketchy anchor.) Or, if you have the knowledge and skills and would like to replace some anchors yourself give me a shout and we’ll send you the database.

A second, very memorable moment happened to us this weekend at The Creek as well. We were camped in Creek Pasture, and noticed a ranger doing his rounds. We didn’t think much of it until he asked us if we had paid our camping fees yet. We were sharing a site with another friend of a friend who had already left for climbing, and he hadn’t paid the $5 fee. The ranger explained that all the money stays within Indian Creek and help pays for the maintenance of the campground (read packing out our poop). We felt embarrassed, apologized, and quickly paid the fee.

Hopefully our little mishap will help remind folks to pay the mere five dollar charge upon arrival to avoid conflicts with the rangers there.

Now, more than ever I feel like I need places like Indian Creek to unplug and recharge. I imagine if you’re reading this you do too. And, if you’re feeling the call to give back, I’m sure you’ll find your own way to do it. Below I’ll leave some information and links to help out. See you at the walls!

My email:

American Safe Climbing Association 

The Access Fund

Rocky Mountain Field Institute 

Friends of Indian Creek

Nature Conservancy 

Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. 

About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

We have also published four books: Graduating From College MeAmerican ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

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