I was going to write a blog about a couple new routes that Hayden Kennedy and I put up in Indian Creek this spring. But then, when I started writing, I realized that, at the core of it all, the new routes were just a small part of the story. I’ll do my best to write a little about the trip.
When I’m at Indian Creek I get a real kick out of walking the bases of the walls, looking at the cliffs, and looking at the plaques at the base. Little scratches in the sandstone saying that someone else was here, too. It gives the place a unique sense of history. One of my favourite things to do at Indian Creek is trace the base of the walls, glancing up at splitters, and poking around for new stuff. And behind every plaque there’s a name and a story.
Hayden managed to finish off the 4×4 Wall project, which was amazing to witness. I had tried the line a bit two springs ago, and while it seemed possible, it was clear that it was very, very hard. Hayden, blessed with an abundance of strength and height, polished it off quickly. The day he did it, I was wrestling with the idea of trying to lead a project at the Battle of the Bulge, beside Ruby’s Cafe.
Hard gear climbing is a test of physical and mental strength. That is obvious, I guess, but I sometimes forget how full-on and scary those experiences can be. Its been over a year now since I broke my talus in England, and I’ve been pretty gun-shy ever since. I’ve tried to throw myself back into the fray by trying routes like the Prophet, but my head has always felt a bit shakey. I’ve tried to force myself back into it, but it takes time.
So I sat down on a rock at the 4×4 wall after watching Hayden dispatch the project and mulled over whether or not I was up for this new pitch. The crux is a few dicey and insecure moves over to Ruby’s Cafe, with a potentially rough fall onto three equalized knifeblades. Basically, there was no two-ways about it: it could be bad if I fell.
But, after watching Hayden send, I started getting really excited to experience the route- and not just sending the route. I wanted the whole thing: to feel the sharpness of the rock, the runout, the fear, the feeling of pushing myself. It had been a long time since I could honestly say that. I told myself that lots. But to actually want the experience is completely different than pretending to want it.
So I started to get really excited. Matt Segal, Hayden, Andy Burr and some other friends generously trudged back up to the Battle of the Bulge to give me another belay. Friends are so important on these types of missions. When you’re on the cusp of deciding what to do, a trusted friend at the belay makes all the difference. Matt and I have swapped belays on loads of heady routes, and we will gladly hike to wherever, at anytime, to help each other out. And I’ll never forget some of the climbs we’ve swapped belays on like the Cobra Crack and Musta Bin High. We’ve got alot of history together, and its nice to have a familiar face on belay who knows what I’m going through in my head.
After the sun had set, I laced up and led it. It was an awesome feeling to be back at it, on something new, and really going for it. At the mental crux I felt very alert, not too scared, not worrying- just present in the situation.
I named the route, ‘Down in Albion’, which is a Babyshambles Album. Albion is an ancient name for England. The name refers to lessons learned from that whole UK experience.
Below are a couple snaps that Andrew Burr took. Andy Burr is a top-notch photographer and all-around great guy. Check out www.andrewburr.com
And a shot of Pete Doherty, frontman for Babyshambles, a bit of a hooligan, but a very talented artist nonetheless.