Utah Desert Gets New 5.12+ Offwidth


5/13/13 - Pamela Pack and Patrick Kingsbury have established a new hard offwidth route in Indian Creek, Utah: Soul Assassin (5.12+ R, four pitches). Located on a detached pillar at the Pistol Whipped Wall (Pack and Kingsbury dubbed the pillar the "Concealed Weapons Tower" because it's partially hidden), the climb sits between Fairy Tale (5.13-) and The Montana Weed Connection (5.13-).

Both offwidth aficionados, the pair spends "an inordinate amount of time walking along walls in Indian Creek searching for wide crack first ascents," Pack says. "It was obvious from the ground that the third pitch was going to be a wildly exposed roof. The idea of a tower with an invert was irresistible."

They spent three days working on Soul Assassin. The first day, Pack tried to get inverted on the roof pitch, but her feet (in climbing shoes) were too small to heel-toe cam. She ended up wearing approach shoes ("the first 5.12+ invert I have established like that," she says) and placed a bolt to protect the roof. The pair swapped leads, with each climbing a crux pitch (Kingsbury on pitch one, Pack on pitch three). The route starts with a splitter finger crack (5.12) and goes into a steep offwidth in a corner, before leading into a "deceptively strenuous and miserable grovel" on pitch two, with arm-bars and chicken-wings. Pitch three tackles the roof, with a "super technical circus-trick-style, feet-over-your-head" offwidth. The last pitch eases up with a chimney to the summit. "[Soul Assassin] has nearly 300 feet of pure offwidth, the majority at nine inches wide," Pack says.

About two weeks earlier, Kingsbury established another Indian Creek route, this time on the Sabbatical Wall (aka Pregnant Woman Wall). He toproped Genetics, which he thinks clocks in at 5.13b, for a few days to get the beta dialed before he went for the headpoint. In the style of many hard Indian Creek climbs, the protection is sketchy, climbing mostly above black and blue Alien cams (the two smallest sizes). Genetics is a mix of thin crack and face climbing, with ground fall potential. "I've spent nearly 10 years in the desert looking for routes that challenge me both physically and mentally," Kingsbury says. "And this one certainly fits the bill. It's thin, scary, and super-aesthetic."

The route starts with a runout face climbing section (with a "wild knee bar") before leading into the upper head wall splitter crack, which has three cruxes between bad stances. "This is easily my proudest and scariest first ascent," Kingsbury says.

Dates of ascents: April 20, May 5, 2013

Sources: Pamela Pack, Patrick Kingsbury