Classic Routes: Indian Creek's Scarface

Scarface is a photographic rite of passage for Indian Creek climbers

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Scarface Indian Creek Rock Climbing Crack Trad Utah
Ashley Schenck hikes Scarface (5.11-) while Hal Garner belays and Mike Pang grabs the mandatory photo-op. Photo: Julie Ellison

Location: Scarface Wall, Indian Creek, Utah
Grade: 5.11-
Type: Traditional
Length: 70 feet

To be the most-photographed route at an area filled with some of the United States’ most striking climbs demands an aesthetic appeal like no other. It might be this crack’s proximity to a perfect shooting position just steps away with no need to jug a rope, or the way the splitter subtly zigs and zags up an orange face. Or it might be the mythical backdrop that combines every recognizable feature of Indian Creek: North and South Six Shooters, the Bridger Jacks, and the expansive valley and shimmering reservoir below. Perhaps it’s the confluence of all three, but Scarface is so quintessential Indian Creek, it’s no wonder that on any given day from October through March, dozens of tape-glove-wearers will eagerly wait hours in line for a single toprope lap…and photo-op. It even appeared on the cover of Climbing back in 1989, issue no. 113, with the late Derek Hersey jamming a much-less-chalky fissure.

Although the photo is easy to snap, the send provides more of a challenge. Scarface is hard right off the deck, with finger jams, long reaches between pods, and polished sandstone feet. The pump builds as you pull through 20-plus feet of steep thin hands to reach the balance-intensive crux, before the angle kicks back and the crack opens up to slammer no. 2s clear to the anchors. Clip the chains, reveling in the fact that you now have a magazine-worthy photo to show off at your next family reunion. You’ll finally impress Uncle Biff, who’s always thought climbing was a huge waste of time.