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BD Athlete Chris Schulte bouldering in Indian Creek, UT

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
This winter, BD athlete Chris Schulte headed to the crack-climbing Mecca of Indian Creek, where instead of heading to the cliffs with a huge rack, he scoured the desert for aesthetic, unclimbed sandstone boulders.

I lived about two hours from the Creek for thirteen years. My first trad climbing trip was to the Creek, though it was pretty far back in the day and was actually a dirt bike trip. My buddy had “heard there was some climbing out there”, and we took along my “southwest singles” rack of maybe eight cams and a double set of nuts. We did what we could, and in hindsight a little more than we should’ve, but we quickly ran out of things we could climb with a bare minimum of dubious safety. Turning to the boulders, we sailed through the remainder of the long weekend on soft sandstone, climbing maybe fifteen or twenty little lines.

I’ve come back now and again, usually in a shoulder season and often en route to somewhere else. Most of the time I’ve been solo or just on a short stop. This January was no different. I’d started at the OR trade show in Salt Lake City, and after a BD team dinner with a heroic crew of skiers, alpinists, mixed and sport climbers, I headed south. Two hours to Joe’s, two more to Moab… Hell, I’m practically in the Creek!

I got a text from a Four Corners friend with a small posse in tow. They wanted some beta for the blocks out in the Creek I’d told them about a few years back. “I’m a half-hour out, I’ll see you in the morning.”

This time around we walked to distant boulders I’d seen from the road for years but never looked at. I’d always stuck to the obvious good spots near the crags and the pullouts—Fringe of Death Canyon and the like. Over the next couple weeks (as weather allowed) we began to discover that every bit of rock you see is going to have something on it. Every cluster will have warm ups and projects. The super boulder you hope has a line on it can often have several.

Or none.

It’s not without its caveats.

The place is all about delicacy. Sandstone is fragile, and here especially so. Tiptoe through the crypto. Mind the trails. Be real low impact. Don’t mess with the cows or kidnap the ranch dogs. Holds are few and far between. The style is powerful and balancy. There are many slabs, arêtes, slopers and other shapes. Holds are usually far apart. The rock can be very sandy or hard as sharpening stones. The season is short. It can go from the coldest night of your life to sunstroke-hot in a weekend. It is the most well known crack climbing venue in the world, so camping can involve some work.

Having said all that, I think it’s my favorite bouldering area right now.

I’ve been out here in the dead of winter on the most perfect day where you can’t come off the slopers and the blood drums in your ears from the silence. I’ve had the best sleep ever and the best Thanksgiving turkey. I’ve climbed my favorite problems and have projects here that I’d rather do than any others I can think of. Most importantly it’s the place I can’t wait to go back to!

Follow Chris on Instagram.