You live, you learn. / You love, you learn. / You cry, you learn.
You lose, you learn. / You bleed, you learn. / You scream, you learn.
When Alanis sat down to write those lyrics, she must have just finished a stint in Indian Creek. They are way too accurate.
Our trio drove North along the 191, back into Moab in anticipation of cleanliness, a restocked food supply and a taste of civilization. Hint of Lime Tostitos and Jagged Little Pill became fuel for the drive. We had been in the Creek for a week and already I felt as though I’d lived a lifetime of emotions.
Live. Love. Cry.
Lose. Bleed. Scream.
In only a matter of days, I had done all of those things.
Rather quickly, it had become clear that my relationship with this place was more complicated than I ever imagined.
I had thought about Indian Creek every day for an entire year, yearning for the chance to get my hands back in those elegant, simple, enigmatic splitter cracks.
Just as I remembered, there was beauty in every direction: The way the shadows danced across the valleys as the afternoon progressed; The glowing red of the buttresses as the sun bid farewell for the evening; The Six Shooters that cut against the skyline with their breathtaking symmetry.
Yet, while the landscape evoked senses of wonder, excitement and anticipation, what lay beneath brought out a completely different spectrum of emotions. Frustration. Vulnerability. Defeat.
The expectation for this trip was simple: To become a better crack climber. Why didn’t it feel as though that was happening?
In reality, it was. My technique was improving. My jams were sticking. And I completed my first real trad lead. Yet somehow I couldn’t convince myself those were valuable measures of progress.
So, to the wise Ms. Morissette, the following were my lessons learned:
- Listen to your crew. Be that your belayer, your lead, your friend or your significant other. Be it beta, constructive feedback or encouragement, those words are being said for a reason. It’s hard to see it when you’re in it, but they can. So listen, absorb, consider… and accept. If you are with the right people, they will help you not only improve as a climber, but help you overcome personal challenges as a whole.
- There is value in vulnerability. Honing in on what makes you feel vulnerable allows you to pinpoint opportunities for growth. Often, what we fear is what we must face. In this instance, identifying my weakest link gave me the tools and direction for how to shift my training back home.
- Everyone progresses differently. Let the comparisons go: forward is forward. When you’re on the wall, it can sometimes be easy to get caught in each movement, each rock feature and lose sight of the progress you really are making. In working toward the bigger picture, however, as long as the next attempt is in the works, nothing else really matters.
- Enjoy the experience. Down or up, good or bad, vanlifer or weekend warrior: there is only a finite amount of time to do whatever it is we love. Grow from challenge. Relish the landscape. Absorb the company surrounding you. And be grateful for the time you do have. In the end, it’s all pretty damn great.
It has become a running joke that spending any amount of time in this unique pocket of Utah means to get educated by Indian Creek. You climb, you learn.
That is indeed the case, and I will keep returning until I receive my Master’s.
Banner and climbing photos courtesy of BEN CHRISTENSEN PHOTOGRAPHY