Crack climbing is a knuckle-splitting, knee-knocking, ankle-crunching business. This is how you do it: shove hands (or fingers) and feet (or toes) into a fissure in the rock and then twist said appendage into the groove. Stand up on these smashed appendages to move inches up a rock face. Reach, twist, and repeat until you’
ve obtained a stable anchor. Then lower back down to the ground and move on to the next towering rock with a vertically cracked face.
When people know what they’re doing, this process looks effortless. Those people seem to levitate (rather than scrape, claw, or muscle) their way up rock faces, plugging in gear and clipping a rope for protection in case of a fall. Last weekend, I watched three guys at Indian Creek’
s Optimator Wall make crack climbing look like play. They were climbing a route named Anunnaki ( grade 5.12-), which is a fifty-foot lightening-bolt splitter. These guys took laps on the thing, and I watched on with swollen hands and bone-bruised feet.
This week was my fourth week at Indian Creek, and I can’t say that I’m flying up this stuff, but I’m seeing progress, slow and ungraceful though it is. Most routes at Indian Creek start out at 5.10, so I’ve been struggling. And “struggling” is an understatement. Last week, for instance, I cried—actually cried—
while climbing. I wonder about the point of it all. But then I think of the Anunnaki guys and remember what it feels like to float on desire.