The 2016 Rock and Roll tour left Calgary on October 7th in the freezing rain, heading south hoping to find warmer conditions in Idaho and Utah to squeeze out a few more days of rock climbing and mountain biking. Our 2-week journey included City of Rock, Moab and Indian Creek.
City of Rock (CoR) located in Southeastern Idaho is about a 12 hour drive from Calgary, a little longer if you stop at the Idaho Potato Museum near Pocatello! The gateway to CoR is the little burb of Almo; corner store, gas and a climbing gear shop, so if you are planning a trip, bring all your necessities. Leaving Almo you enter the CoR National Reserve, a rock climbing wonderland. The access road traverses the valley from one crag to the next, with the camping sites interspersed along the way. The rock is ancient granite, very high quality with a great mix of trad and sport routes. The new guidebook is very comprehensive, with a good range of grades from moderate to challenging. We camped and climbed four days, easily could have spent a couple of weeks exploring the 1000+ routes in the valley. The temp’s during our stay were in the high teens to low twenties everyday. We hit it right with the weather gods as mid-October is approaching end of season. We will definitely plan a return visit:
John on Wheat Thins
Leaving Idaho, the tour headed for the rolling part of the trip, to the mountain bike mecca, Moab Utah, about a 6 hour drive from CoR. We got into Moab as the sun was setting, stopping at the visitor center for guidance to local camping opportunities. The fellow behind the counter just laughed at the newbies in town and said that all camping fills up before 10 AM, he pointed us to the more remote random camping in the La Sal Mountains. After spending the night on a mountain road pullout, the next morning we scored a great campsite within biking distance to the signature Slickrock trail! Moab has extensive biking ranging from easy to double black, something for everybody. The real treat is riding the Navaho sandstone, called “slickrock”, while grippy on the tires it is a little unforgiving when you crash!
After three days of biking we decided to do something safer, aka rock climbing! We headed to the Fisher towers about an hour east of Moab. The landmark climb is Ancient Arts, with the airy catwalk and tabletop pinnacle finish.
Ancient Arts is the Pinnacle center left
Ancient Arts-view from the top
For the final leg of the trip we headed an hour south to Indian Creek, the epicenter of sandstone splitters, located at the edge of Canyon Lands National Park. October is high season for IC so camping is at a premium, we arrived mid-week and landed a great campsite at the Super Bowl campground, tucked into the cottonwood trees in the coulee. Indian Creek is a maze of canyons ringed with Wingate red sandstone famous for straight uniform cracks. If you’ve heard anything about Indian Creek it’s all true; the formations are magical, the climbing is super hard, you need multiple cams (e.g. 6-8 minimum, especially 0.75-2”).
We stayed for 4 nights, temps were in the mid 20’s everyday without a cloud in the sky. There are very few 5.9’s, which all feel a lot harder than the grade. We climbed them all and still felt like greenhorns to the nuances of sandstone crack climbing.
To wrap-up our Inidan Creek tour we did a little off roading in Gerry’s modified cargo van “Rocky” to the dominate tower, “The Six Shooter” a spire complex with panaromic 360 views of the Indian Creek Canyons. Rocking and Rolling in the Southwest US was a great combo for an extended autumn adventure and sure to be a repeat.