West Crack (5.9, II)

June 21, 2003

back to Sierras

Here’s another 5 star Toulumne route to spoil you for rock elsewhere. We made the short hike up to the base of the route and found one party on the first pitch and another waiting. We hung around for an hour, drawing out the process of getting ready. We were pretty relaxed here near the end of our trip - no need to beat everybody to the route or scurry away in fear of crowds. It was kind of windy though, and a couple came down from a route to the left shivering - and the woman was wearing a puffy down jacket!

Aidan took the first pitch. The 5.9 crux came with face climbing in the first 20 feet, protected well with a bolt. After this, enjoyable crack climbing led to some exciting final moves to a bolted belay station beneath a roof. The party ahead of us took a good while to leave the station and establish themselves a pitch higher. In the meantime, Aidan was in a screaming wind whipping through the shady nook below the roof. I arrived at his belay to find a shivering partner, teeth beginning to chatter!

I climbed through the overhang on great juggy holds and solid hand jams. It was so enjoyable! More jamming and a good hex placement led to a long wide crack with good knobs to grab on the right. You’d have to bring pretty wide pro to protect it. I reached a beautiful soaring finger crack and set a gear belay. This pitch was fun, solid 5.8. Aidan came up, very happy to be back in the sun! He was still cold enough to defer the next lead to me. While he rewarmed in the sun, I climbed the “awesome, sustained finger crack (5.8)” to easier climbing and a relaxing of the angle. I built a gear belay, and surveyed my world. The rock and sun infused confidence and a sense of peace with the world. I was happy to see a re-warmed Aidan.

He led us for a short pitch of 4th class and easy 5th to the summit. Actually to a huge and interesting boulder on the summit. We enjoyed looking at Fairview Dome across the street. We made one or two rappels to get down the back side, then hiked down past some pretty, shiny slabs that featured more climbs. We hiked back to the car, really pleased with this 1/2 day climb. Consider bringing a windbreaker in early season!

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West Crack is visible

Aidan on the first pitch

Aidan above the overhang

Aidan back in the sun, much better!

Goodbye and well met!

Beautiful stone here

A disturbed individual on DAFF