The Index T-Shirt

In a cabinet next to the bed in my van lives a very small collection of books. The collection includes a rotating cast of crossword puzzles and journals, but for lack of space few have made the cut as long-term residents. Hangdog Days by Jeff Smoot, Climbing Free by Lynn Hill, Advanced Rockcract by Royal Robbins, and The Rock Warrior’s Way by Arno Ilgner will always have their place, but in the age of Mountain Project I don’t really have enough space for any guidebooks. That is, with one exception: Index, Washington.

On the inside flap of the front cover of my Index guidebook is a handwritten note that says, “Don’t be afraid to redefine yourself.” Guidebook author Chris Kalman’s words. At the time that I wrote it, I was young, proud, and stubborn, but above all afraid of change. Thus, it had been advice that I had needed to hear in my early days at Washington’s finest crag, as I first began cautiously dipping my toes into the world of trad climbing. I had long been searching for something, what I thought was simply a new climbing project, and it had led me to Index. What I found instead was so much more than I could have ever imagined– an experience that would completely and profoundly change my life. There in Index, alongside the salmon in the river and the slugs in the forest I found myself, and who I was meant to become.

On the inside flap of the back cover of my Index guidebook is a handwritten list of climbs that is completely arbitrary in many ways, yet for the sake of this story is anything but. It’s a copy of the list of climbs found on the back of “the Index T-shirt,” an iconic symbol that has come to represent the almost cult-like reverence held for the Index Town Walls by all who have spent time in its ethereal forests and on its proud granite walls.

The roots of climbing have always been steeped in an anti-establishment mindset, allowing the sport to collect misfits who simply seek the freedom to be themselves and be accepted for it. More than anywhere else I’ve ever been, Index epitomizes this vibration in a way that makes it so much more than just a climbing area. It’s a place where even the weirdest amongst us can feel at home and find their tribe, because in Index, everyone belongs. That is what the T-shirt represents, because to wear it means to be a part of our community, to belong to it and to this place. Even in my far-reaching travels across the country, I’ve come across complete strangers wearing these shirts and felt an instant connection over our unspoken common ground. We are both a part of something.

Made by Richard Ellison, a Seattleite and old school local climber, the front bears a colorfully screen-printed silhouette of the striking yet seldom summited Mount Index, and the back has a checklist of what at first glance appears to be the crag’s most classic climbs. Upon closer inspection however, a disconnect becomes apparent: even by Index standards the grades are way off, with almost everything from 5.10 to 5.12 simply listed as “5.11-B,” and while most routes are classics, a few made the cut that rarely get done, had never been repeated, or straight up don’t even exist anymore (if they ever did). The shirts are sold at the Index General Store and have been around as long as anyone who still climbs there today, yet in decades of their existence the list had never been completed by a single person. At least, until now. 

The List [Photo by Eric Hirst]

The idea to complete the T-shirt list came from one of my best friends and long-time climbing partner Eric Hirst. He had been climbing at Index for decades and had established many routes there some time ago, but had fallen out of the scene in recent years as he instead explored Washington’s many small sport crags like where we first met in a place called Newhalem.

Eric and I became fast friends, bonding over nerdy books, board games, marvel movies, and of course, rock climbing. Along with a crew that consisted of a handful of other climbers such as Doug and Allison Reimer, Pat Sullivan, Benjit Hull, Julie Busby, Nic Thune, Jeff Schmitt, Blue Hargreaves, Leah Seaver, Jimmy Chulich, Stefan Baatz, and many others, we soon began camping and climbing together every weekend. “These are the good old days,” Doug would often say, as we sat around a campfire under yet another night of brilliant stars. He was right. Climbing had never been more fun.

While life would eventually take us all in different directions, as it tends to do to even the tightest of crews, my friendship with Eric was only just beginning. Over the years he would go on to mentor me in route development, be the person I called in tears after heartbreaks, give me a key to his house for when I needed a place to store my stuff and crash when back in town, and forever be a big part of the reason why I’ll always consider the Pacific Northwest my home.

Eric and I sharing a beer in the Red River Gorge [Photo by Jeff Schmitt]

Eric had been my partner for much of my defining early days at Index, supporting me as I projected the legendary finger crack City Park. After I eventually sent it, Eric mentioned that since it’s on the T-shirt, I had now become one of the few people out there who could actually complete the list. We already knew it had never been done, because there had only been five people before me to climb City Park, and none of them would have gone out of their way to climb such obscurities as The Antidote, rumored to have never seen a second ascent, or Spaced Man Spliff, which may or may not actually even exist.

Not knowing much about many of the actual climbs on it other than the handful I’d already done, I liked the idea simply because it was something I could offer to Index in exchange for all it had given me. I could share with this special place my own vision of what’s possible with enough passion and heart. Who knows, maybe it would open the door for someone to do something even bigger one day, or maybe it would just be a fun way to pay homage to the place that had changed my life.

I didn’t commit to the pursuit right away, but I began exploring it with ever increasing curiosity. The more I thought about it and tried a few of its climbs, the more I became obsessed. It was such an arbitrary list, made by a single person whom I barely knew, yet to me it represented so much. Even being relatively new to Index, I had unintentionally already ticked off a good chunk of the list, especially the Lower Town Wall classics. What remained was a combination of moderates and testpieces, some classic and others long lost to the moss and slugs. Each with their own story to tell.

What follows is a collection of short stories, one for each climb on the list. They chronicle not just the process of completing a unique sort of goal, but the journey of falling in love with a place, growing lifelong friendships, making mistakes, learning, and evolving as a person. If you are looking for the highlights, read City Park and then skip to Spaced Man Spliff and Davis-Holland at the end, though hopefully it’s worth reading about everything in between. It was certainly worth experiencing.

1: City Park
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Finger crack
T-Shirt Grade: 5.13-C
Real (Index) Grade: 5.13d

City Park [Photo by Truc Ngyuen Allen]

I’ve already written pages and pages about City Park over the years, but in my life, it just seems to be the gift that keeps on giving, so here we are again.

At the time that I first started pursuing the first female ascent of Washington’s hardest trad climb, I could never have imagined nor understood just how much it would impact my life in the years that would follow. Back then, deep down I was simply seeking an outlet. I was desperately lonely, lost, and didn’t have a clue where my life was headed. I was dissatisfied with the status quo trajectory I was on, yet I couldn’t envision being brave nor bold nor talented enough for anything else. When I’m hitting dead ends and don’t know which way to go in life, I usually just let rock climbing take the wheel, so that’s exactly what I did. I needed something into which I could pour that overwhelming amount of passion that I had been bottling up inside me, and City Park fit the bill perfectly.

As I started to work the route, I found what I had been missing in my life: a direction. I didn’t know where it would take me, but if it was into a world that was full of the kind of purpose I felt whilst climbing that crack, I knew that it was where I needed to go. The more I followed my heart in pursuit of City Park, the more my mind began to open to just what it was that I was experiencing, because it was something profoundly new.

Over time I started to see a bigger picture that my imagination hadn’t held the capacity for until now. I began to understand how a climb could be so much more than just an egotistical battle with some godforsaken piece of rock; how superficial my mindset of ‘conquer and move on to the next,’ truly was. I started to realize that I had barely scratched the surface of the potential to have truly meaningful experiences through climbing.

Projecting City Park not only showed me climbing at its best, but along the way my time in Index also showed me some of life itself at its best. Long days outside in a beautiful place with dear friends spent pouring my heart into a passion; what more could you ask for? It was more than just cragging. It was climbing as a lifestyle, climbing as a place to belong, climbing as a purpose, climbing as an identity. It was almost all of the answers I had been looking for.

As I fell in love with Index, I became increasingly interested in getting to know the place better to truly understand where I fit in to the picture. I studied its culture by night, befriending the regulars and camping in the Wagon Wheel (Index’s colorful campground for dirtbags, families, evangelicals, and non-climbing rainbow folks alike), and I studied its stories and lore by day. Never before had I seen projecting a route as stepping into history and learning how to write your own chapter; drawing inspiration from those that have come before and hopefully giving back to all that will come after. I realized not only that City Park was so much more than just a route, but that there must be others out there with just as rich of stories to experience and add on to.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that City Park changed everything about how I understood rock climbing.

I started to see the places climbing might be able to take me if I dared to dream big enough. Once you get a taste of that, there’s no going back. I had to find what else was out there.

It was largely thanks to City Park that I finally worked up the courage to leave Washington and the status quo in the rear view. I bought a van and hit the road, now a semi-professional climber and mostly unprofessional dirtbag, always in pursuit of the kinds of experiences I now know are such a critical element to a meaningful life. It has been an experience that has been richer and more rewarding than anything I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Like I said, who I was meant to become.

2: Godzilla
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Hand crack
T-Shirt Grade: 5.10-A
Real (Index) Grade: 5.9

To this day I consider Godzilla one of my favorite climbs anywhere. I believe it was one of my first real trad leads, though all I really remember about when I climbed it was that it was the dead of winter. It was one of those rare Washington days when it stops raining for long enough that desperately hungry climbers can find dry rock in the midst of monsoon season. The Lower Town Wall gets full sun that time of year, with no leaves on the trees to stop the granite from quickly drying. The days are very short however, so casual cragging is the best that can really be hoped for.
It was on a day like that that I rambled out to Index for what was probably only my second time ever (the first being during an internship with KAF Adventures, in which I climbed the Great Northern Slab, a 5.7). I don’t remember who I was with unfortunately, but as we arrived at the base of Godzilla, I eagerly volunteered to take the lead despite not knowing much about trad climbing. I was already a solid 5.13 sport climber, so the route presented no challenge even without knowing how to hand jam (it’s a crack climb). While the consensus of the grade is 5.9, the Index T-shirt has it listed as 5.10a so I considered it my first 5.10 on gear, holding the shirt in reverence even back then.

After clipping the anchors for Godzilla, my belayer lowered me slowly to the ground. As I descended, I passed a striking pencil thin crack that ran the entire way from the shared anchors to the forest floor.

“That’s City Park,” I was told. The hardest trad climb in the state. “Do you want to try it?”

It was soaking wet, but here was already a top rope up, so what the hell, why not? It was way above my paygrade at the time, but it captured my imagination nonetheless; a dream for another life.

As I was working City Park, I climbed Godzilla countless times; the perfect warm up that coincidentally shared an anchor with my project. I don’t think I ever had anything less than pure type 1 fun, sinking those perfect hand jams with such ease that my rack eventually whittled down to just a few cams. I knew the route so well that I felt completely safe with just my ability as protection.

Rarely do I seek out 5.9s, but Godzilla is one of those climbs that I could climb every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it, and there aren’t a lot of those out there.

3: Princely Ambitions
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Varied cracks and face climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.8
Real (Index) Grade: 5.9

I’ve warmed up on Princely Ambitions a few times, as it is one of the only easy routes at the Lower Town Wall. I have no real recollection of the first time I climbed it, but I have a vivid memory of a different day when Princely nearly got me into some real trouble.

It was the Fourth of July, 2018 or at least sometime around then, because I know I had tried City Park earlier that day and had some extra energy to burn off afterward. I was with Pat, and he suggested we climb Princely to access a few pitches above it. It connects into Dr. Sniff and the Tunaboaters, a variation to the second pitch that gets you to a ledge system that eventually leads up to the Mid Walls.

Pat and I goofing around on the 4th of July

Pat and I cruised up Princely and Dr. Sniff, enjoying the easy climbing as we topped out in the small forest on the ledge above. We scrambled up loose dirt and pine needles until we were stopped by another wall. A few scattered grassy cracks led to an anchor, though there was no evidence that it had been climbed in years. A long time Index veteran, Pat insisted that it was a good climb, a nice 5.11 that wasn’t too sandbagged, and said that I should give it a go while we were here. He had always been a trustworthy tour guide out here so I agreed.

Pat anchored himself to a tree at the base, because the ledge sloped down pretty aggressively to where it dropped off at the edge of the cliff, several pitches above the forest floor. I started up, trying to fiddle small gear around the vegetation that had made its home in the crack. It certainly wasn’t clean, and it might not have even been totally dry. Whatever the cause, I slipped off after only a few feet of climbing. Whatever desperate protection I had tried to fiddle in ripped immediately and I found myself tumbling to the ground in a ball of long limbs. I landed on my ass and then fell backwards, sliding down the dirty slope headfirst towards the precipice until the rope arrested my momentum as I finally came to a stop.

Pat’s decision to build a belay anchor had saved me a much worse fate. Nicknamed “The Walking Legend,” after surviving a severe ground fall on Thin Fingers that should have been fatal, he knows a thing or two about hitting the deck in Index. If you’re going to rip gear and deck, this was a far better place than in the sharp talus below the Lower Town Wall, as the soft peat of the forest had cushioned my fall and allowed me to walk away a little shaken but otherwise unscathed. I have never returned to that pitch for redemption; I’d far rather just take another lap on Princely Ambitions.

4: Thin Fingers
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Finger crack
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11a

Thin Fingers was another one of the first things I ever climbed at Index, but what I remember most about it was that it was the first time I ever shared a rope with Pat. We had been facebook friends for a while, each knowing of each other yet never having met in person until finally crossing paths at Vertical World one day. I knew that Pat was a talented and dedicated Index climber, to the point that his name was almost synonymous with the place. He offered to show me around his stomping grounds, and the next thing I knew we were at Thin Fingers, one of Index’s most classic moderate challenges.

While we had just met, I already knew about Pat’s fall, because it was impossible not to. The Washington climbing community isn’t that big. What I didn’t know was that this was the climb it had happened on, yet for some reason this was the first place he had taken me. I guess it’s just a testament to Pat’s unflappable love for Index and truly genuine character, that even something so traumatic couldn’t shake his desire to be here and to share one of his favorite climbs with me, a total stranger. It was the first of many beautiful days that we have shared in Index, as Pat instantly became one of my favorite people to climb with, and has remained so to this day.

5: Slow Children
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Finger crack
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.10d

Long before most of these stories took place, when I knew little about Index and the nature of its specific style (both of climbing and of sandbagging routes), I received a message one day from renowned local photographer Truc Ngyuen Allen. He had a photoshoot that needed to happen within the next few days and his climber had bailed, so he was on the hunt for a last-minute stand-in. Somehow my name had come up and he reached out, though we had never worked together before. I don’t think I’d ever even been shot by a professional before. I was eager to participate, casually brushing off Truc’s caution whether or not I was prepared to lead such a route. Yes, it was harder than anything I had ever led on gear before, but I had climbed a few 5.13 sport routes already and couldn’t imagine a 5.10 ever giving me trouble.

Truc had wrangled up a belayer for me, but he was only available for a few hours in the morning, most of which we took up just getting to the base of the pitch (it starts after the second pitch of City Park, accessed via Godzilla). I still had to get the fixed line up for Truc, and climb the route again for the photos. We sat around on the ledge, wondering what to do as our belayer lowered back to the ground. He promised to ask around at the base of the Lower Town Wall for someone who could take his place, but the crag was almost completely deserted that day. Almost.

On any given day if there is only one person at the Lower Town Wall, odds are that that person is Randy Ladowski. Diehard Index fanatic, Randy has since become one of a very small number of climbers passionate enough about the crag to actually brave the bleak monsoon season and take up permanent residence in town. He agreed to come up and belay me, in exchange for the promise of $20. We had seen each other around before, and have since become very good friends, but that was my first memory of ever climbing together.

I tiptoed up the diving board that grants access to what in the opinion of many is Index’s finest rock climb. The first crux comes almost immediately, and off I came. Perhaps Truc had been right to question my ability to climb this. I knew I could get to the chains, even if I didn’t send it, so I continued upwards in a not-so-proud style of hangdogging and eventually taking a few falls. They were the first ones I had ever taken on gear, though I kept that information to myself at the time. No need to stress out my team any more than they already were.

After many falls, I eventually got to the chains and we bailed back to the ground. It would be several years before I returned and sent Slow Children, this time accompanied by Pat who gave me a move-by-move spraydown on how to climb it better than my previous attempt. The images Truc captured would be the first time I ever had my photo printed in a climbing magazine. Sadly, Randy was never given his due for making it possible; a fact he has still not forgotten.

If you didn’t know better, I almost look like I know what I’m doing [Photo by Truc Nguyen Allen]

6: Model Worker
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Face climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11c

Model Worker is one of the strangest climbs to be found both on the list and anywhere, and as such it epitomizes the character of Index. The climb is best known for two things: a perplexing party trick move at the crux, and a unique piece of essential protection. Standing at the base of the climb there is an obvious hueco, atypical in the land of knobs and chickenheads to instead find the inverse. There is no bolt but it is protected with just a quickdraw nonetheless, carabiner shoved into the thin hole.

The day I climbed Model Worker it must have been early spring because I remember it not being totally dry. Eric and I were cragging at the LTW and he mentioned that it would be an extremely difficult onsight because of the party trick move. He hadn’t climbed it in many years, but still remembered how to do the boulder problem. Never one to turn down a challenge, I refused beta and racked up.

I cruised up the wall until the obvious features suddenly ran out, leaving me standing at a stance with no clue how to proceed across a featureless section. I tested as many options as I could think of, hesitating at the rest for ages, before finally figuring out some desperate bullshit that climbed up and around the blank section. I pulled it off somehow, though whatever beta I used was certainly not the party trick. I managed the onsight by the skin of my teeth, only to have Eric float through the crux after me like it was nothing using the normal beta. He teased about how much easier it was that way, if only I’d somehow been able to predict such nonsense. I’d describe the move, but I can’t remember neither what I did, nor what you’re supposed to do. Besides, I would hate to rob anyone the chance to try and figure it out on the fly!

7: Iron Horse
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Finger crack
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11d

When I first started coming to Index, I didn’t know much about the T-shirt list, but instead operated off another unwritten tick list in my mind. I simply wanted to climb all the classic 5.11cs and ds at the Lower Town Wall, starting with TPMV and soon leading me to Iron Horse. I think it was the second thing I projected, spending two days whipping off the short but stout finger crack. I was very new to trad climbing still, and remember feeling grateful for the nest of tat connecting old pins and fixed gear halfway up, because to me it seemed more trustworthy than the cams I was trying to place myself. When I sent Iron Horse it felt pretty desperate. I haven’t climbed it since, but I imagine it would probably feel pretty different now that I know a bit more about crack climbing!

8: Japanese Gardens
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Layback and crack climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11c

Japanese Gardens is probably the most popular climb at the Lower Town Wall aside from Godzilla, so it was on my ‘must do’ list since long before the T-shirt quest began. Like many of my early attempts on routes at Index, I had first sandbagged myself by trying it in the sun, quickly becoming frustrated by the sloping holds at the finish. It seemed so far beyond my ability.

Perhaps a year later, I returned with my good friend Nic Thune to give it a more serious effort. We tired ourselves out by climbing the less frequently done upper pitches before returning to the ground to try and redpoint the classic first one. After a few big falls at the crux, I debated calling it a day. Nic, always psyched, decided to try one last time.

“How are you feeling?” I asked as he prepared.

“Fresh and strong!” he sarcastically replied with a grin. We both cracked up at how completely false the statement was.

Nic climbed well, but once again took the massive crux whipper before lowering back to the ground. My turn.

I repeated his mantra, ‘fresh and strong,’ as a joke, hoping to somehow trick my body into believing it somehow, even though I myself did not. By some miracle it worked, or at least something did, because on what must have been my fourth or fifth try of the day it finally came together.

Nic following the second pitch of Japanese Gardens

9: Sagittarius
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Chimney
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11b

Sagittarius was another climb that I did before I could ever even pretend to be able to say I knew what I was doing climbing at Index. I remember looking at it in the guidebook and thinking it looked cool, only to be told that it might not be a good idea that day because I was wearing shorts, and it was something of a grovel. No problem, I thought, I was still mostly a sport climber, and just so happened to have my kneebar pads with me. They would protect my knees from the sharp granite chimneying, and make the route easier no less!

I have always had trouble with chimneys; I blame my extremely long legs and general lack of technique, but even so it’s not something I would ever wear rubber pads for nowadays. An extra offwidth sleeve maybe, but there is rarely a situation where you need to kneebar inside a squeeze chimney. Regardless, I still bring kneebar pads with me no matter where I go, because when you need them, you need them. I definitely did not need them on Sagittarius, and I’m glad that no one but me seems to remember that that was how I climbed it…

10: The Fifth Force
Location: The Country
Style: Wizardry
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.12b

In a crag notorious for a level of sandbaggery bordering on the ludicrous, perhaps no route fits the bill better than the Fifth Force. Rumor has it that Jonathan Siegrist, one of the top climbers in the country, once tried it without knowing the grade and thought it clocked in around 5.13c. For the taller folks it isn’t quite as heinously stout, but no matter who you are it won’t go down without a fight.

I first tried Fifth Force in the sun on a warm day, and as one might guess things didn’t go so well. I wrote the climb off as not worth my time after only giving it one try and failing to reach the top. When I was working City Park the Fifth Force was Eric’s project, so we would often commute between the Country and the Lower Town Wall while one of us rested. Watching Eric work the climb restored my hope that it was worthy of its other reputation: a classic must-do.

I briefly returned to Seattle from my life on the road for the month of February of 2019 for a stint of work. I had heard rumors from locals that it had been a great winter for climbing in Index, with lots of dry days and perfect conditions, contrary to what I remembered about being in the Pacific Northwest that time of year. Sure enough, the day my plane landed in Sea-Tac Airport it dumped a foot of snow, and I didn’t climb outside for the entire month I was there. The day before my flight back to where my car was stashed in Colorado however, the weather finally cleared enough to squeak out a single day at Index.

It felt like the entire Washington climbing community was there that glorious day, and the rock felt like Velcro in the chilly winter air. With the trails to higher walls all snowed in, it was the perfect day to crag at the Country. It might have been the friction of the cold, or maybe I had managed to harness the power of the Fifth Force itself, but it felt like a completely different climb than when I had first tried it, and I quickly sent.

So, what exactly is the Fifth Force? The answer to that is yet another chapter in the colorful history of Index itself.

In 1984 the Country crag was created by the Robbins Company, the leading source of granite quarrying in the Puget Sound at the time. While they had long since abandoned operations in Index, evidence of their influence remained in the form of a large tunnel, which would then become a source of experiments for the Physics Department at the University of Washington trying to prove the existence of the “Fifth Force.” In 2013 the tunnel was blocked with concrete, yet to this day it still seeps a mysterious liquid that many believe to be a remnant of the experiments; possible evidence of the existence of the Fifth Force, or perhaps some other scientific anomaly that was the real cause of the tunnel being sealed.

11: Big Science
Location: The Country
Style: Knob climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.12b

Fresh off my send of the Fifth Force, I wanted to make the most out of such a perfect day and decided to also climb Big Science. A short little route between Little Jupiter and Indextacy, it follows a maze of knobs that vary wildly in both size and slopeyness. The crux is probably remembering which ones are good to grab, and which ones not even the power of the Fifth Force will allow you to hold on to.

12: Little Jupiter
Location: The Country
Style: Knob climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11d

I went out to Index with Pat one day to get away from a sport climbing project at Little Si that had been shutting me down with vehemence. It was the one that had eventually led to “don’t be afraid to redefine yourself,” and I had just fallen off the last move yet again. I thought a dose of trad would help switch things up, so Pat had been giving me a tour of some of his favorite climbs at the Lower Town Wall. It was there that I met Mike Massey, an eccentric character and Index legend known for having every route at the LTW and Country absolutely dialed to perfection. We rallied over to the country, where he was excited to show me his new route and Magnum Opus, Indextacy. Eager to earn the respect of the locals, I repeated it, not ignoring the irony that I still ended up sport climbing despite my attempt to plug gear that day. With some time left before sundown, I also climbed Little Jupiter, one of Massey’s all-time favorites. To this day he can be seen floating up either route with ease on any given dry weekend day.

Climbing on Indextacy [Photo by Per Nesselquist]

13: Racer X
Location: Lower Lump
Style: Knob climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.10b

Racer X was once a classic, but as many routes in the Pacific Northwest do, at one point or another it fell out of favor and was quickly reclaimed by the jungle. Thanks to the passionate labor of a few dedicated locals however, right as I was starting to go all in on the T-shirt there was an update posted on the Climb Index! Facebook page. Racer X had been resurrected from its mossy grave; the time to climb it was now! It couldn’t have been more serendipitous.

Rarely do I go out of my way to climb 5.10s, and were it not for the T-shirt I surely never would have done this one. Located off the beaten path (yet not far from the actual train tracks), this three-pitch moderate lies nestled in the forest at the Beetle Bailey Slab, a crag best suited for those seeking to enjoy lower grades rather than humble their egos thrashing at their limit.

For a climb I otherwise never would have done, Racer X stands out in my memory as a surprisingly favorite experience that season. Eric and I swapped leads as we navigated a sea of some of Index’s finest knobs, some sloping but most being very positive on the low angle slab. The recent efforts had left the route impeccably clean, and we were grateful to be able to take advantage of their hard work to tick off such a classic. 

Eric pinching a knob on the second pitch of Racer X

14: Dana’s Arch
Location: Upper Town Wall
Style: Finger crack
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11a

Sadly, this classic was the least memorable experience off the T-shirt. So much so that I had to double check with Eric when we actually went up there. If the faint memory serves, I climbed Dana’s Arch on a whim one day while exploring the Upper Town Wall. It was one of my seemingly endless trips to the highest wall in Index, Earwax, though it predated any of my projecting endeavors on the harder routes. We climbed a few easier lines that Eric had bolted years ago, such as Black Flag of the Schwarzer Kamin before calling it a day.

15: Biology of Small Appliances
Location: Earwax Wall
Style: Arete
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.12b

I had gone to the Upper Town Wall to climb a multipitch called Golden Road with my friend Ethan Fitzpatrick one day since it had been established by my friend Benjit and was rumored to be some kind of mega good. It certainly did not disappoint, though at 5.11c it did not hold true to the Index sandbag so we had some energy to spare afterwards. At that point I had begun attempting the T-shirt, though it was still a loose idea. I knew Biology, which is just past where Golden Road is, was on it, so we decided to scope it with the remaining daylight. The route was amazing, I eagerly messaged Eric on my way home to say as much. 5.12 in Index is pretty real but the route felt like I could do it in one or two more tries, much to my excitement.

In the end I didn’t make it back to Earwax wall until the following season, when I started working on The Antidote, quickly ticking off Biology of Small Appliances in the process.

Biology of Small Appliances [Photo by Matt Carroll]

16: Antidote
Location: Earwax Wall
Style: Face climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.13a

There was a time, many years ago, when I thought the epitome of the climbing experience was to just go cragging with as many friends as one could rally. To just have a grand old time of type one fun. That specific kind of experience had been what had brought me back from a severe case of burnout when I gave up on bouldering, so any deference from said behavior I met with great resistance. As such, I believed wholeheartedly that I would never choose a project that would require me to travel off the beaten path to somewhere remote enough that I had to microtraxion it by myself in order to get it done. Too lonely; not worth it. Lo and behold, after a few years of dedicated focus to improving my attitude and stepping outside my comfort zone to grow as a person and climber, my mindset about solo projecting eventually changed.

It was the spring of 2019. I had recently left Seattle for a winter of adventure on the open road, but the heat of impending summer had chased me back North. I stopped off in Index for a few weeks to use the crimp strength I had built in Smith Rock to try and tick off a few T-Shirt climbs before spending the next few months in Squamish.

The Antidote was the second project in my life that I ever used rope solo tactics on; the first being a sport climb in El Salto, Mexico over the winter. I had to borrow Eric’s minitraxions (neither of us had the much smaller micros), an old 11mm static rope (why would I have owned any static at that point?), and a vintage grigri 1 that could handle such a thick cord. The climb had been recently cleaned by Index climber Matt Carrol, who had been singlehandedly resurrecting the entire Earwax Wall from obscurity with significant and dedicated scrubbing and rebolting. I took advantage of the newly de-lichened face, and set to work learning how to project via microtraxion. I did fairly well with only one dramatic mistake: on one attempt I reached the anchors only to realize that I had forgotten any sort of rappel device on the ground far below. On a weekday at the highest and most seldom visited wall in Index, there was zero chance of anyone being around that could help. Normally in such a situation one would simply tie a munter hitch and rappel using a carabiner, but that was not a thing I knew how to do, nor was the wall of the nature that could I simply top out and walk off. Instead what I did was the only thing I could think to do: I pulled up an armload of slack and tied a knot so I couldn’t fall to the ground. I locked the microtrax in an open position so it would slide down the rope but still stop me when it got to the knot, and hand-over-hand down-campused the rope. Once I got to the knot, I sagged onto the microtrax in exhaustion, only a fraction of the way down the wall. I clipped myself into a bolt on the wall, untied the knot, pulled up more slack, and repeated the process.

For a moment I found myself glad that no one was around to witness my pathetic shenanigans, but had there been even one other climber I could have just asked them to tag me up the grigri. Once back on the ground I dropped into my hammock in relief that I had survived. I had nearly put myself into a foolishly dangerous situation, one that I swore never to repeat. Unfortunately, I did just that only a few days later on Numbah 10, though that time someone was around to bail me out.

Despite my amateur mistakes, the rope soloing process is a highly efficient way to get things done, and soon after that I redpointed it on my first lead attempt. The Antidote had never been repeated since its first ascent; one of the most telling clues that the T-Shirt had yet to be completed by anyone, since the developers of Antidote certainly never climbed City Park. It’s a hard climb, the only other on the list to have earned a 5.13 grade (quite a rarity in Index), but nothing so futuristic that many of the strong locals couldn’t have ticked it over the years. Indeed, Matt succeeded in grabbing the third ascent shortly after my own send. It perhaps went unclimbed for so many years for the same reason many Index climbs fade to obscurity—there’s just too much good rock in Index with a much shorter approach to incentivize climbers to hoof it up the steep trail to something like the Earwax Wall. I myself would certainly not have bothered if it hadn’t been on the list. That, or maybe it’s just that the name ‘Earwax,’ doesn’t really inspire…

17: Numbah 10
Location: Lower Town Wall
Style: Face climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.12b

After climbing the Antidote, I decided to take a break from hiking all the way up to the Earwax Wall and instead project something with a little shorter of an approach. I was also working my way through what I thought would probably be the hardest climbs remaining on the list, and Numbah 10 had something of a reputation for being one of Index’s most sandbagged 5.12s, maybe even on par with the likes of the Fifth Force.

There was already a fixed line on Amandala, which branches off the Numbah 10 start, so it was easy to just continue my microtraxion projecting. I lapped the pitch for a day or two, unlocking a wild sequence of technical kneebars to get through the opening boulder problem. Randy had given me a move-by-move breakdown of his beta already, but due to our difference in height his sequence felt impossible and I had to devise my own. It was some of the most insane granite wizardry I’ve done to this day, palming my hands off nothing and shuffling my body sideways up a vertical wall. After it felt thoroughly rehearsed, I got Randy to give me a catch and I floated the route on my first try with my friend Scott’s drone buzzing in the background taking pictures. It felt like my remaining T-shirt climbs were going down left and right, and that I would be done with this list in no time! Little did I know, Numbah 10 would be the last route I would climb at Index for two years.

Numbah 10 [Photo by Scott Welch]

18: Centerfold
Location: The Diamond
Style: Slab
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11a

I returned to the Northwest about a month ago, June of 2021, hell bent on finally finishing what I started all those years ago: completing this list. I knew Eric would be psyched to help me, as I pulled my van into his driveway for the first time in almost two years. I had been gone a long time, and my life looked very different than when I had last left, but in terms of our friendship neither time nor distance had changed a thing and we were soon laughing and scheming about all our future climbing projects just like old times.

I had racked up a plethora of multipitch experience recently, adopting a series of tactics such as the “fix and follow technique,” that Eric was excited to learn about (fix and follow refers to the method of leading in blocks with the leader simply fixing the rope once they reach an anchor so the follower can microtraxion behind, instead of having to be belayed). It had been raining heavily all week, but granite dries fast so we charged out towards Index during a slight break in the storm. 

Water seeped around our shoes from the saturated peat as we slogged up the steep trail to the Diamond, but my heart was overflowing with excitement to be back in Index after all this time. I had been missing both this place and Eric’s companionship something fierce. The base of the wall was soaking wet when we got there, but once the four-pitch route broke above the shade of tree line the rock looked dry. I could see enough ledges and cracks that I knew I would be able to get through the swamp, even if I had to skip a few bolts of wet slab in order to do so. Sure enough, after wading through the wettest pitch I’ve ever climbed I burst out into glorious sunlight at the top of the first pitch. I had just been in Yosemite and my granite game was feeling strong, so the technical slab pitches went down without a fight. Eric styled everything too, a proud return to a route that had once shut him down. By the time we lowered off, the first pitch had dried completely.

We navigated a path over to the Upper Town Wall from there, tunneling through a cave on a hidden trail that I never knew existed. After climbing a bit more, we hiked down the main trail to find a nearly empty parking lot. We had Index almost entirely to ourselves; unheard of on a Saturday. I guess no one else was as willing to brave the wetness, but we were grateful that we had taken the chance, for it had wholly paid off.

Eric following the crux slab on Centerfold

19: Young Cynics
Location: Earwax Wall
Style: Face climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.12d

After finishing Antidote, I swung over to the anchors of Young Cynics, just a few climbs to the left. I moved the fixed line and jumped on it, only to discover that it had yet to receive the passionate scrubbing of the other routes on the wall. Dirty and with a few holds still wet from the winter’s rain, I made little progress that day. I left the lineup, and my hammock strung between two trees at the base, figuring I would return in a few days.

Trying to clean Young Cynics with no gas left in the tank [Video by Eric Hirst]

Somehow those few days turned into two years before I would return, as I got sidetracked by life and other travels. Like most of my previous days at the Earwax Wall, yet another project began with a sweaty solo hike and some rope soloing. The moves came together fast, despite poor conditions and perma-wet holds. I thought that the later in the day I waited to climb the nicer the temperatures would be, but the opposite seemed to happen as 80% humidity and not even the faintest breeze made the air feel so thick you could almost chew on it. Mosquitoes swarmed the base, following me up the wall as I tried to escape upwards. Still, it was good to be back.

A few days later I took off from work and met a group of my college friends in the Wagon Wheel. They were psyched to belay me, but I wanted to wait until the evening to ensure I didn’t get caught in the sun, so we spent the day at the newly developed Rhythm cliff before finally ascending to Young Cynics in the late afternoon. As Jake, Devon, and Catherine dumped their sweaty packs and collapsed amongst the roots of a tree, I eagerly donned my harness, hoping one of them would get the message and come belay.

Just as before, high humidity from recent record rainfall made for an added challenge. I raced up the wall, hoping that if I climbed quickly, I could outrun my own sweat glands. Just get to the top before you get too sweaty, I thought. It worked surprisingly well, despite the deference from my usual slow pace, and I clipped the chains on my first attempt. Now only one 5.12+ remained.

20: Phone Calls from the Dead
Location: The Country
Style: Knob climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11a

I had returned to Washington with seven climbs remaining, and now I was down to five. The final countdown had begun. Reading Mountain Project comments about Phone Calls from the Dead promised moderate climbing to a tricky mantle, rumored to be “impossible for humans.” The route was only low 5.11 so the grade gave me confidence that it would be a quick tick, but mantling has never been my strong suit.

Eric and I were pleased to find the popular Heart of the Country area relatively quiet for a Saturday, barely having to wait for our turn to cruise the first pitch of GM to where Phone Calls begins. The wall was in the sun, but it was early and the friction felt okay so I coasted up knobs and flakes to a ledge just shy of the chains; the mantle. Back and forth I traversed, looking for any sort of hold that would ease the difficulty of the move, but soon it became apparent that I just had to ante up and commit. As I pistol squatted up, soon my hands were both forced to release their grip on the ledge, trusting my entire body weight to my right quadricep. I’ve never had very strong legs, but after hiking up and down El Capitan all spring I was more prepared than I’d probably ever been for a move like this and it went easily. Eric followed behind, imitating my beta successfully and soon we were back on the ground celebrating another team send on immaculate stone. On to the next, so long as it didn’t involve any more pistol squatting.

21: Steel Monkey
Location: The Country
Style: Finger crack
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.12a

Years ago, Pat had taken me over to look at Steel Monkey, a short and fierce tips crack just past the Country on the last good rock before reaching the choss of the Quarry. It had been too hot to climb back then, but he insisted that I had a good chance at onsighting it. Pat knows a thing or two about climbing at Index, so as I whittled down the list, I didn’t think it was one of the ones I should be too worried about.

After Eric and I climbed Phone Calls from the Dead, we were graced with a decent haze of cloud cover shading the otherwise solar oven that is the Country. It was the last day that was supposed to have any decent weather whatsoever, so we were trying to make the most of it by bagging as many of my remaining T-shirt climbs as possible.

Even on the lower end of the spectrum 5.12 is no joke in Index, so despite its short approach Steel Monkey never gets climbed. I had been told that my friend Lucas had recently climbed Steel Monkey, but the news had been given to me in a way that implied, ‘ask him if you get stuck and need beta.’ Maybe I was underestimating it.

The gear looked thin and the moves at the bottom challenging, so Eric and I decided to see if we couldn’t place a cam using his stick clip. It worked surprisingly well, and after only a few tries my fears of decking off the opening sequence were abated. It was a good thing we bothered with safety, because I ended up slipping off before reaching the placement. So much for Pat’s faith in my ability to onsight it. Lucas’ chalk was still on it despite recent rains, but the sequence baffled me at first, as I ended up aiding to the top to work it on top rope. The sun peeked intermittently through the clouds, blasting me with waves of heat when it did. I decided to take a break and let Eric try; maybe he could see something I couldn’t. Sure enough, Eric found a body position I had not tried that made the final crux not a crux at all.

As we napped on the ground and waited for the shade of the next batch of clouds, I started to think about how completing this list wasn’t all that different than trying to redpoint a very long multipitch or big wall. It’s one overall goal, but you cannot send unless you redpoint every single pitch. Even failing on a single one negates everything you put into all the other pitches. In the past such a realization would have intimidated me, but in that moment, it gave me a strange sense of comfort and almost confidence. I had just come from two months in Yosemite climbing big walls and two months of other multipitch routes in the desert before that, so in a strange sense it felt like familiar territory. Unphased by my new awareness of how much the stakes increased with each tick, I quickly added another. Then there were three.

22: All Dogs Go to Heaven
Location: Lower Cheeks/Clay Area
Style: Dihedral
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.12d

I had never sent more than two T-shirt climbs in a single day, since I climbed most of the easiest ones before I was actively pursuing this goal. After sending Steel Monkey however, I knew I had to try and go for “the triple” as we called it, because conditions were only going to get worse from here until I left Washington to return to the road. Time to sink or swim.

We had been climbing all day, but by early afternoon full shade had finally arrived. The hike up to the Upper Town Walls treks through dense forest the entire way, but enough sun still filters though to make a noticeable difference when timed poorly. The late day shadow cast by Mt. Index made the hike easier than it normally felt though, and I arrived at All Dogs Go to Heaven feeling fresher than normal. It was the last hard route remaining, and today might be my best day to do it.

I had tried it unsuccessfully after climbing Centerfold not long ago, so the beta was fresh in my mind as I strapped on my kneebar pad and doused my hands in liquid chalk to combat the ever-present humidity. Eric made me verbalize the tricky sequence just below the chains before he would put me on belay, just to make sure I remembered all the nuance. It involved nearly a dozen small moves just to gain a few vertical feet. Despite this I still managed to mess it up, falling within an arm’s length of the chains. I had missed a key foot move, so after striking a chalky tick mark so long it could probably be seen from space, I gave it a second go. The first crux roof almost spit me off as it had during my first few attempts, but I managed to keep it together. I knew I might not have another try after this. With a rather unnecessary power scream, I succeeded in the place I had fallen before and found myself clipping the chains with joy.

I had managed to pull off the triple, an arbitrary milestone towards achieving an even more arbitrary goal, but it felt pretty damn cool. Now only two climbs remained, both of which I knew I could accomplish in bad conditions as the temperatures started to rise over the next week. With the final crux passed, the list was as good as done in terms of any uncertainties, though a bit of significant work remained…

23: Spaced Man Spliff
Location: Wall of Voodoo
Style: Varied cracks and face climbing
T-Shirt Grade: 5.11-B
Real (Index) Grade: 5.11b

Spaced Man Spliff… where to even begin? While City Park might get the award for the most colorful history, Godzilla for most the often climbed, Davis-Holland for the most classic, and The Fifth Force for the most sandbagged, the only accolades Spaced Man Spliff will ever receive would be for the most mysterious, or perhaps the most obscure. So what is the deal with this climb?

Does the name Spaced Man Spliff sound familiar, yet you can’t quite place where you’ve seen it before? That is probably because at one point there may have been another route in Index by the same name, though if it ever really existed its location has long since been lost to time and the failings of human memory. The only evidence that it may or may not have ever existed lies on the Index T-Shirt. On my quest to complete the T-shirt list, I had looked in every guidebook that had ever been printed about Index yet found no record of a climb by that name. How strange, considering most everything else was a classic. I asked Rich (the maker of the shirts) about it, but he had no recollection of what this mysterious climb was (if it had ever even been). I posted on the very active Climb Index! Facebook group for leads and got a few rumors, but nothing concrete. I asked many of the OGs that had been climbing at Index for many years; still nothing. Either it had been renamed, chopped, or simply added to the shirt as a long-forgotten joke. Eventually I concluded that it was something I would have to create myself in order to complete the T-shirt list. It didn’t need to be a classic, not everything on the list is; it just needed to exist. 

While there is a very finite amount of real estate remaining in the state of Washington for new routing and a number of ambitious and very active developers making quick work of what’s left, with a little imagination it’s still possible to find new lines in Index. Rarely do folks walk to more remote crags when the Lower Town Wall, home to much of the best climbing in the state, is five minutes from the parking lot. Finally, I narrowed my remaining climbs on the list down until Spaced Man Spliff was one of two remaining. I had found a line while working Young Cynics at the Wall of Voodoo which lies just beyond. It had been skipped over thus far, perhaps for good reason. It was buried deep under a thick layer of typical Index vegetation, but a bit of scraping revealed a crack underneath. From the ground it looked quite promising. 

Cleaning new routes in the Pacific Northwest kind of feels like going to war with the jungle, as I scrubbed and bolted alone in miserable heat, blasting away mosquitoes with a battery powered leaf blower whenever the cloud around me got too thick. As the moss fell away, cracks and face holds were revealed underneath; just enough for the route to go at Index 5.11.

I sent the route the Thursday after cleaning it, on an after-work mission with Eric. A bit more cleaning, trail work, and the addition of two more bolts left us both dirty, sweaty, and rather underwhelmed by the finished product. Sadly, the climb didn’t end up being all that great– with a short boulder problem crux protected by bolts, and easy gear climbing above and below. Perhaps in the end it might be fitting that it was only a one star climb though, because it means that it’s likely destined to return to the obscurity from whence it came, staying true to the mythical circumstances under which it was created. The next person to try and complete the T-shirt list will probably have to discover it all over again, lost under the ferns and moss that will inevitably reclaim it just as I did. Better yet, perhaps they might never find it and have to put up another Spaced Man Spliff of their own. Maybe there will be a new one for each person that deigns to follow in my footsteps by seeking out the adventure of completing the world’s most arbitrary ticklist.  

24: Davis-Holland
Location: Upper Town Wall
Style: Varied cracks, mostly hand size
T-Shirt Grade: 5.10-C
Real (Index) Grade: 5.10c

I’ve had many different types of projects in the almost twenty years that I’ve been climbing. There are the desperate ones with a crux right at the end, where upon clipping the chains you feel an instant release of endorphins in one glorious “I did it!” moment. Then there are the ones with a crux at the bottom, where you simply get to revel in the success while still experiencing the route as you climb through easy terrain to the chains. Then there are the multipitches, where you have entire pitches after the crux that could be considered a victory lap; hundreds of feet of no-stress, type 1 fun. I’ve found that in the latter there are seldom the screams and tears of the conqueror upon completion, but a much slower release of euphoria; often with the summit feeling surprisingly anticlimactic when the success had been secured minutes or even hours before.

I had always known Davis-Holland would be how I finished the list. It might be the most classic multipitch in Index, so the fact that I had yet to climb it never ceased to surprise people when I would list what routes remained on the T-shirt. I figured since the project really started with the hardest one, I should end it with the easiest that remained; like eating your vegetables in order to earn dessert.

The sun was already setting as I started up Davis-Holland. We had just finished Spaced Man Spliff, and were looking forward to climbing something with a little more stars and a little fewer dirt. Eric and I both had to work the next day, but with temperatures forecasted to be in a shocking triple digit heat wave that weekend, we were more than willing to endure a late night to avoid it and get this done now.

The Lovin Arms pitches above Davis-Holland by the last light of day [Photo by Sara Michelle]

The climbing was every bit the dessert I had spent all these years working towards; pitch after pitch of easy yet perfect crack climbing as I raced upward, climbing fast so we could hopefully make it home before midnight. It was still warm enough not to need a jacket as the setting sun illuminated Mt. Index, Baring, and Persius in a soft pink glow. What a gift it was to be here right now, sharing yet another unforgettable moment in this spectacular place with one of my favorite people. Then it was over; not in a blaze of glory like redpointing at your limit, but more like the slow burn of topping out a long multipitch and finally collapsing on a craggy summit. Like one where the celebration lies far more in cherishing the experience than taking pride in the accomplishment.

I had finally completed the list; a celebration of not only my evolution in this place, but of that of everyone who has ever worn the T-shirt with pride or uttered the local motto “Index provides,” to describe their own profound experiences here.

In the intro to the Index guidebook, photographer Matty Van Biene puts it best:

 “The specific medicine that climbing at Index bestows for you will likely be different than it is for me. Index will certainly dish out whatever it is that you need if you can allow yourself to leave your ego at the tracks, approach these walls with an open heart, and fall in love with this sacred place.”

Index had changed my life. It took who I was: a stubborn and lost young girl who didn’t know much about the world and her place in it aside from an all-consuming love for rock climbing, and made me into who I am now: a not-so-young woman who knows her calling and is no longer afraid to grow and change in order to chase it. Index had written a defining moment in my story, and how I had done my best to do the same for it; to add a chapter that might inspire someone someday to dream bigger and follow their heart, or at the very least to cherish this land and share that love with all who come to climb here.

A giant full moon rose through the trees as we descended in the dark. As we lowered over the Sport Wall on our last rappel, we couldn’t help but admire the feat of restoration that had recently been done by local legend Ben Gilkison to restore this wall to a climbable state. All around us, shiny new bolts and permadraws gleamed in the light of our headlamps. The wall was immaculately clean and the climbing awe inspiring; if it weren’t about to be so hot, we agreed that this would be something worth climbing ASAP. It just goes to show that there will always be something to return to in this place.

I touched down amongst some bushes on a small ledge, calling up to Eric to watch the end of the rope as it didn’t quite make it to the proper ground. I ran off to grab our approach shoes and the drinks we had left at our packs before returning.

Without even removing his climbing shoes, Eric cracked his beer.

“To Index,” I said with a grin that was reflected on his face.

“To Index,” he echoed. 

6 thoughts on “The Index T-Shirt

  1. I’m just curious that must have been Julie’s Roof that spit you off, above princely ambitions?

    That used to be a spectacular climb, decades ago:)

    Great Tales of Index!!!! I have 3 children that were born there, it’s got it’s own mystique that’s for sure:)


  2. Hell yeah! Super psyched to explore Index when I move to the PNW next year from Japan. Your passion and love for the area is super apparent. It’s really nice to read about your process and progression, it reminds me that we are all on our own path.


  3. Wow great stuff, I Gotta get over to index more, thank you for the inspiration.

    On Sat, Jul 3, 2021 at 11:35 AM My Life in Center Toroidal wrote:

    > Brittany Goris posted: ” In a cabinet next to the bed in my van lives a > very small collection of books. The collection includes a rotating cast of > crossword puzzles and journals, but for lack of space few have made the cut > as long-term residents. Hangdog Days by Jeff Smoot, Clim” >


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