The cloudless sky appears like a lid, closing the puce, smooth expanse above you. To each side, the views remind of a sci-fi flick, unfolding on a different planet. The setting is stunning and precarious. You rest in the air, suspended on tough ropes, with adrenaline rushing through your body and spiking your heart rate. You are in the midst of scaling up what is virtually a vertical rock with little ruggedness to help you in the journey to the top.
This is Indian Creek, a natural wonder that paints a surreal landscape in the the desert of eastern Utah. A sprawling locus of Wingate sandstone cliffs, it has captured the imagination of adventurers and explorers for generations. The towering splitter cracks, many of which possess a mind-bending sleekness, also form a daring hotspot for climbers, who seek the thrill of a gravity-defying ordeal. Southwest of Moab, Utah, the area encompasses over 40 crags that are both imposing and extremely fragile. Conquering any number of them – including the crown jewel, Supercrack, requires much more than a fervor for climbing. It takes some serious mental and physical preparation, coupled with the best of professional gear.
DESERT CRACKS OF INDIAN CREEK
Climbing the desert cracks of Indian Creek wears your stamina with an astounding speed. Stock up on food, water and any energy-boosting supplements to pick you up. Carrying all these vital supplies through an arid, daunting terrain, however, is no small task. Having the right travel backpack can substantially alleviate the strain. Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia is an ideal help in this situation, where lightweight design and extreme durability are essential. Comprised of a large main compartment, the ruck accommodates several days’ worth of essentials and climbing equipment (from ropes to cams to gloves) as well as an internal hydration sleeve – a thoughtful feature in any venture into a desert climate. Hooked to ultralight mesh shoulder straps, the 18-liter pack provides security and comfort of carry that ease both the body and the mind.
A CLIMBER’S PARADISE
What is more, with its one-of-a-kind color scheme, the backpack flashes a unique style in what can easily be a gaggle of climbers’ packs on any given day. Indian Creek is, indeed, a coveted climber paradise that is only getting more popular by the year. Some are veterans, others are rookies, and many are somewhere in between. If you are still honing your rock-ascending skills, embrace the crowds and find a mentor to guide you through the complexities of the hulking cracks. And yet, avoid tall and daunting cliffs like Supercrack on busy weekends, when the chaos of eager climbers detracts from the gritty yet memorable experience.
On the days when there are too many cragsmen on the cracks or when you need to recoup your stamina and heal your skin from multiple scrapes, Indian Creek presents a slew of opportunities for hiking and exploring. The area, especially the nearby Canyonlands National Park, bustles with canyons, whose walls often bear petroglyphs or flank ancient ruins. If you pine to return to civilization on the days off, Monticello and Moab are near and offer some low-key entertainment as well as the chance to load up on food and gear.
Even when the climbing vim and vigor return to you, stay away from the cracks if they are wet after a storm. Yes, it is a desert region, but rain is not uncommon. Sandstone is delicate and fragile – and especially so after a downpour, posing major dangers of injuries to you and damage to the rocks.
When not on the cliffs, opt for a small backpack to carry your necessities but not tire your back. Mifland Mini can do just that. With a distinct, clean design, draped in natural vegetable leather, this rectangular pack is a no-nonsense companion, whose durability, functionality and quality lend a whole another dimension to outdoors adventures.
When you finally get back to inching up a rope against an impressive splitter, do not forget your climber’s ethics. Respect the privacy of others but be ready to help them. Leave no trace on the cracks or litter in the campsites at their bases. Preserve Indian Creek’s majesty and wilderness. It is a backcountry whose untouched vastness and untrammeled beauty overwhelm you feet above the ground where the sky appears near, the smooth wall tries your resolve and the horizon stretches with cliffs to no end.
IVY KIRZHNER ORION
Handmade in Brazil, this classic backpack features a braided leather handle, drawstring and shoulder straps with leather tassel fringe details. This adorably sized bag is ready for a leisurely walk trough the vineyards.
JOHN VARVATOS CANVAS TOTE BAG
Simple doesn’t have to translate to boring. Hanging from beautiful leather straps, the single belly tote is the perfect companion to tote home your new bottles of wine.