Certain climbs just beg for the hero shot: the crazy stem box of El Matador at Devils Tower, for example, or the overhanging headwall of High Exposure at the Gunks, or the wildly exposed sport climbs of Yosemite’s Killer Pillar.
Spectacular position or unique moves, a stunning backdrop, and—perhaps most important of all—easy access to prime shooting positions combine for can’t-miss photos. Nearly every climber who does one of these routes eventually posts the proof at Facebook or Flickr.
Certainly this is the case for Scarface, an arching splitter crack on the Scarface Wall of Indian Creek, Utah. So perfect is the alignment of a beautiful line and gorgeous backdrop— the winding, cottonwood-lined creek, the flower-filled pastures, the blue reservoir, the buttes of Bridger Jack and the Six Shooters, and the big Utah sky—that Scarface has starred in advertisements, guidebook covers, and on the cover of Climbing(No. 113). Best of all, the photographer doesn’t need to dangle from a rope to capture this amazing scene. The hillside a few steps away provides the perfect spot for shooting.
But Scarface is not just a pretty climb—it’s also a great climb. The route traces the left side of an obtuse dihedral, curving gracefully along the outside edge. After a stout but brief section of slightly overhanging finger jams with pods, the climb continues with sustained thin-hands jamming. Scarface provides sweet revenge for small climbers whose club-handed partners point them at fist cracks and say, “This is your kind of climbing.” If you’ve got small hands, Scarface really is made for you and will likely feel easier than its guidebook rating. The pump builds as you near the anchors, but this climb is short by Indian Creek standards—about 70 feet— so hang on, you’ll get there. And if you have to stop and rest, just de-pump, clean up your rack, and tell your photographer to get ready: It’s pose time.
Find it: Park in the large gravel lot 2.5 miles north of the cattle guard at Supercrack Buttress. The cliff is on the southwest tip of a large butte. After hiking up to the wall, turn left to find Scarface and the warm-ups farther left.
Season: Fall through spring. The route catches sun for much of the day, making it a great cold-weather destination.
Gear: This is Indian Creek, so you’ll be toting a huge pile of cams to the crag, but for Scarface you only need seven or eight hand-size units, plus a few smaller pieces for the start.
Guidebook:Indian Creek: A Climbing Guide (2nd Edition), by David Bloom
Nearby classics: Scarface Wall doesn’t have much for the 5.9 and under set, but it’s stacked from 5.10 and up. Warm up on the 5.10 corner of Black Uhuru, on the far left end of the crag. After you’ve ticked Scarface and done the obligatory TR session with all of your friends, have a go at Torque Wrench (5.11 hands) or Sudden Impact (5.11 thin hands in a corner), or up the ante with Desert Vuarnet (5.11+/12- left-facing corner to thin hands).