Matt and Joanne’s Page

April 15, 2008

Indian Creek (pt. 2) + Mesa Verde

Filed under: Climbing, Roadtrip — Matt Stamplis @ 10:15 am

Indian Creek has definitely been one of the most fun places we’ve climbed at on our trip so far. But all good things must come to end: and now we’re ready to check out other regions around Moab. After our last day of climbing we decided to take a detour and drive our to see the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. Liz, I know you’ll probably be jealous – they’re really amazing and so well preserved. Scroll down for some pictures from the area.

This climb is called The Serrator (11-). Can you guess why? Fortunately, the “edge” is mercifully blunt as it gnaws on your leg…and your torso…and your arms…and your head…I placed 3 pieces of gear on this route. And 2 of them are pretty close to the ground (the crux). It gets easier at the top but it gets bigger than a #6 camelot (yikes!)

A cactus begins to bloom…

How do we get the energy to keep on moving? Here’s one of Joanne’s creations, an awesome giant-sized sandwich with tuna and cooked tomatoes, zucchinis, and eggplant.

Apparently you do climber harder in a Stoneworks T-Shirt! Here’s Matt about to redpoint Fingers In a Lightsocket (11+). Thanks to Eric Odenthal for taking the pictures here! (J) Did I mention that so far 2 photographers had taken Matt’s pictures on some of the hard climbs he did? So who knows, maybe you’ll end up seeing his face on some magazine some day 🙂

Some more evidence of previous inhabitants of Indian Creek. I think I read somewhere that the native people put handprints like this to mark the area as a sacred or significant place. They apparently put their hands on the wall and blow out some juice from their mouths that leave white mark. Pretty neato..

Matt entering the crux sequence of Annunaki (5.12-). This is one of the steepest routes at Indian Creek (it climbs the underside of a fallen pillar) and has great bouldery + pumpy moves.

This is the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde. These buildings were all built in a relatively short span sometime around 1200 A.D. and were only inhabited for 100 years or so. When the ancestral Puebloans left (for reasons that are still unclear), they packed up and left these amazing structures behind for us to admire. This is the largest of the cliff dwellings within the park and requires a tour guide ($3/person) to see. The price is worth it (since you have no other choice) and gives you a chance to see these ruins up close.

This picture was taken looking up in one of the buildings in the Cliff Palace. The floors have long since disappeared but looking up you can see someone had painted the walls of the 3rd story with red and white patterns.

At the Spruce Tree House, you can see one of the best preserved ruins in the Park. It also requires no additional fees (thankfully) and gives you a chance to explore at your own pace. Here’s Joanne taking a peek inside a ceremonial kiva.

Sunset on the Bridger Jack Mesa (on the left) and the Six Shooter Peaks (on the right). We hope to come back here someday!

Route Info + Beta

Climbing Quality: Lives up to it’s reputation as the most aesthetic pitches anywhere in the world. A bit crowded but anyone willing to forgo climbing at the Supercrack or Cat Walls and walk more than 10 minutes will find themselves alone. Our favorite routes? No point in naming – there’s not many bad routes here! Now if I could only climb 5.11s so easily everywhere else…sorry but this place is feather bagged!

Camping: Popular camping areas (Bridger Jacks/Cottonwoods) are crowded during climbing season (Spring and Fall). Lots of no-hassle free camping. No water. Get up early to avoid a line at the toilet.

Rest Day Activities: Hike up one of the canyons (stay off private property), go for a bike ride (or hike) in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park.

Rack Info:
OK, I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of people with 10 gold camelots climbing some never ending hand crack in Indian Creek. So, of course, we were a bit terrified that we would drive all the way and be unable to climb anything with our “skimpy” rack. But it turns out that you can get away with something like a rack of triples and climb a surprising number of routes.

Sure, you’ll need to borrow some cams if you want to climb lines like Supercrack (mostly #3 camelots) or Incredible Hand Crack (#2s) but we found a lot of routes where our rack was sufficient: The Wave, Annunuki, Fingers In a Light Socket, and Drainpipe come to mind. There’s also quite a few shorter routes in the canyon where a small rack is sane. The only climb where I might have miscalculated my own rack was Generic Crack, our first climb at Indian Creek. I ran out of gear and ended up placing 1 piece of gear in the last 40 feet or so. It seems kind of stupid to risk a 40 footer on climbs that can gobble up gear, right? If you’re not sure, most climbers are more than happy to share their cams as long as you’re willing to let them borrow yours, also.

Supercrack, Battle of the Bulge, and the Cat Walls get a disproportionate number of climbers: if you go anywhere else in the canyon you probably won’t have to wait in line. Still, if you need to climb a “classic” or want to hook up with climbers with bigger racks…then take a number.
the approach to South Six Shooter Peak is not an easy feat. We never made it all the way but I think we got close. We rode our bikes up Davis Canyon Road, vaguely making our way towards the tower. I remember skirting around some private-looking property at one point and in general just followed the dirt road until it dumped itself into a huge sandy wash.

We did a combination of walking/riding here as the sand was deep and soft. Leaving the bikes here might be a good option. From there we continued circumnavigating the huge talus cone that surrounds the peak until we gave up and went home. We never found any cairns and from talking to others we might have not walked far enough but it’s hard to say. The slog up the talus cone from where we were standing looked pretty hideous. Maybe next time?


  1. tell joanne that if she come back malaysia in the future…i would like her to make me that super big sandwich ^^

    Comment by juenhau — April 16, 2008 @ 1:04 am

  2. Hahahaha, I will make you the sandwich next time I come home. But you have to buy all the ingredients though since I think some of them will be hard to find in Malaysia :). Yum Yum Yum

    Comment by joannestamplis — April 16, 2008 @ 10:26 am

  3. I AM SO MAD!!! You guys went to mesa verde?????!!! that is one of my dreams…
    was it AMAZING???
    By the way, did you ever receive the email i sent you with the pictures from our trip out there? I don’t think it ever sent because I think the files were too big…
    I will resend it again…
    I want to hear from you guys again soon…email me if you get a chance at xzy@xzy just to say hello. I’d love to hear from you and your pictures are so ridiculously amazing. I can’t believe you two do those crazy climbs. Also, I told mom that I want you to send Yogi to stay with me for a bit if you need to get him off your hands for a little while. Theo and Yogi can be best friends.

    Hope all is well…love you both, talk soon,
    xoxo liz

    Comment by Liz Stamplis — April 30, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  4. Hey Lizzie,
    Mesa Verde is quite cool. Unfortunately when we went there, a few of the cooler place are still close to visitor. It’s still pretty impressive though. Don’t worry, you’ll get to go there someday. I think Theo and Yogi will be best friend for sure but of course Theo will totally walk all over our whimpy Yogi 🙂

    Comment by joannestamplis — May 9, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  5. […] Click here for part 2 of Indian Creek […]

    Pingback by Indian Creek (part 1) « Matt and Joanne’s Page — May 25, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

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