SushiFest Indian Creek 2013
by Joel Unema
A few of the Arizona crew at Sushifest 2013
The endurance of a climbing area is tested by the rapid turnover of
climbing generations. Some areas that have formed the deep roots of our sport are forgotten as number grades pass them by and the attention of the young and strong turns to crags with thinner cracks, smaller crimps, and steeper walls. Other areas transform and evolve over decades as the eyes of ascentionists are opened, technology improves, or ethics change. Small cams allow protection of thinner and shallower cracks, unprotectable faces are bolted, and a generation of plastic-hardened gym rats sees holds where none were seen before. Harder routes continue to go up at some of these crags right next to climbs established decades before.
Indian Creek continues to stand the test of time, and I experienced one brief moment in the ongoing story at Sushifest 2013, which brought together climbers from almost every generation in the geneology of Indian Creek. Food, drink, laughter and stories were shared between aging alpinists and first ascentionists from the 70’s, original offwidth masters, historians and guidebook authors, and climbers in their first season at the creek.
The Doctor, Dave Bloom, in his office
My connection to the Sushifest was through David Bloom, known in part for his Indian Creek guidebook. We have become climbing partners and good friends in the past few months and when he encouraged me to join in the Sushifest, I couldn’t say no. History was thick in the air around the campfire and at the crag. Jim Donini recounted surviving on rations of monkey in Venezuala, David and I repeated routes he established with Micah Dash, and others told stories of pre-cam first ascents at Indian Creek and around the country.
After the healthy doses of story telling and swordfish sashimi, I had a chance to sample some classic climbs established by Steve Hong, Steve Petro, Eric Decaria, and recent additions from Pat Kingsbury. Perhaps the highlight of the trip for me came as I was belaying, not climbing. I had the chance to belay Dave Bloom on a new project, a climb so steep and beautiful it will certainly rank among the classic hard lines. Despite his impressive efforts, the climb awaits his ascent and stands as a symbol of the vast potential remaining at Indian Creek despite the extensive development. New gear, stronger
Joel Unema on the finger crack of Pat’s Blue Ribbon
The diversity of climbers from so many generations assembled that
weekend made me feel that now is a Golden Age for Indian Creek. Perhaps most of the plums have been picked, the desert is feeling the effects of the crack-hungry masses, and some of the air of adventure has left the place. However, it is a narrow window in which a young creek climber can both share a beer or a rope with some of the original pioneers, repeat classics established over decades, and establish new climbs of exceptional quality. The original Golden Ageperhaps has past, but I am glad for the place in time I find myself in the sandstone halls of Indian Creek.
Thanks to Dave, Nature, John, Mike, Roy, Carrie, and everyone else for making this few days at the creek so fun! Photo credit Carrie Albrecht and Roy McClenahan
Joel Unema entering the headwall on the onsight of Family Home Night
Desert Dogs: Bosco and Ruffus
John Crawley following the beautiful and unique The Cleaner at Scarface
Mike Broad on his first wide encounter with Big Guy, Scarface