Crest Jewel is a fantastic high-elevation slab climb; perhaps the best in the country. Certainly the best I've done in Colorado or California. If you only ever do one long slab climb, this should be it.
The climb is fairly well-bolted (entirely with modern hardware and safe belays), but expect typical run outs on the easier terrain (5.8 and below). These generally feel less and less scary later in the route as you become accustomed to the style. The crux, if doing Crest Jewel Direct, comes early and is very well protected.
I'm not going to give a pitch-by-pitch description of the climb, but it would behoove parties who haven't done the climb before to have a photocopy of the topo with them -- if only to figure out which general direction to head off in when departing a belay -- often the next protection bolt is hard to spot and the climbing could conceivably go anywhere.
The original Crest Jewel accesses the wall from the left side at about one-third height, whereas Direct begins at a high-point at the base of the dome, also towards the left margin of the main face. Direct intersects that first pitch of the original route after five pitches of harder slab climbing. Most parties approach via Royal Arches which makes for a very full 30-pitch day.
The route gets sun all day long and can really cook up there, but the wind can also pick up making things quite unpleasant. Views of the Valley and Half Dome in particular are outstanding.
8 draws & something for the bolted anchors.
|Comments on Crest Jewel (and Crest Jewel Direct)
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 25, 2006
You can also approach this climb from the Tioga Pass road. This cuts out all the elevation gain to the base, although there is more hiking and some nasty manzanita thrashing.
The original route was initially rated 10c/d, but this was ridiculous, it's only about 5.9. I'd recommend this alternative if you're not up for the direct start.
Apr 5, 2007
We hiked in from Porcupine Creek trailhead on Tioga Pass Road, five fast, easy miles. Left some water under a tree and thrashed down the manzanita gully on the right (as you look down) side of the Dome. An hour and a half later, we found the start. I don't recommend doing it this way; the climb may be set up for double-rope rappels to avoid the epic bushwhacking.
The climb itself was fun, a Topo on steroids if you will (you Splatte rats know what I'm talking about). The friction characteristics of the orange polish took some getting used to. I agree, George: 5.9 with a few well-protected moves of 5.10- on pitch 6 (I think).
It was over 100 degrees that July day in the Valley; probably 80-ish up here. By the time we finished, we were both spitting cotton. The quart and a half of water we'd stashed wasn't nearly enough. Next time, I'd bring as much as I could reasonably carry. (There is a creek from which you could filter, but it's too close to the parking area to do much good. Stashing wins here.)
10 miles, 10 pitches...good day.
|By john strand|
From: southern colo
May 28, 2008
I agree whole-heartedly that this is one of the great slab climbs. The rock, position and climbing are all top notch.
As for the approaches, I feel that the Royal Arches way is better and actually a bit easier. I know I felt kinda tired the one time we came in from Tuolumne.
For a real fun time , you also bivvy at the top North Dome after the climb and then get a cool Valley sunset/sunrise the next day.
|By George Perkins|
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jun 16, 2008
This climb did not seem like 'R' to me; good pro on anything 5.9 or harder for sure. Especially compared to other slab climbs on Glacier Point and in Tuolumne, and probably the other slab climbs on North Dome (which I haven't tried yet). For a comparison with some shorter ones, I felt Needle Spoon on Pywiack and Marginal on the Apron felt mentally tougher on their harder pitches; if you can climb those you'll be fine on Crest Jewel.
One of the best slab climbs there is... a must-do, if only to see what 10 pitches of slab feels like...
|By Old Skool|
Jun 17, 2008
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
Car to Car in 7.5 hours. Crux P8, stay on the White Granite dishes through the first four bolts and you'll be fine. No move was harder than .10a on this pitch and they were all very pos.
Fun route and must do. There is no "R" anywhere on this route. Well protected in my book. You want some real "R" Slab, go to Stone Mtn. NC. There you can taste some real "R" Slab lines.
Even better, for some local spice "R", "Hair Raiser Buttress" at Granite Basin, an hour and a half away on the Eastern Side, will definitely give you some "R" nerve racking momments on all three P's.
From: Altadena, CA
Jun 20, 2008
Crest Jewel is certainly not ''R''. CJD might have a spot of runout, but I distinctly remember the crux of Crest Jewel being bolted so tightly that you couldn't hurt yourself if you tried. 9+/10- seems about right, 5.9 would be a little bit of a sandbag (but not by much).
I did this with Thomas Keefer in (I think) June of 2004 and there was not a soul on either Royal Arches or Crest Jewel when we were on them. It was supposed to thunderstorm that day, but instead we just got pleasant breezes and beautiful views of Half Dome the whole time.
Walking down North Dome gully did not appeal to us so we rapped Royal Arches and got back to the base in time to hit the pizza deck for a pie and some beer. Next day we went and climbed one of the couloirs on North Peak, which ended with us outrunning the belated thunderstorm as lightning touched down all over Saddlebag Lake. Rather stark contrast. Moral of the story: bring a lightweight rain jacket with a hood on long routes like this, it might save your life.
Either CJ or CJD linked with Royal Arches makes for a lovely day out. Neither one is going to involve a 'running belay', which is the norm for 'R'-rated slabs such as the ones mentioned at Stone Mountain (or, for that matter, many slab pitches nearby in Tuolumne and the Needles). Simul-climbing Royal Arches to get to the base is probably a lot riskier than any move on Crest Jewel or CJD, for what it's worth.
|By Kat A|
From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Jun 5, 2009
Amazing slab climb. On the easier terrain, the bolts are spaced far apart - one of the upper pitches has just one bolt - though the 5.9-5.10 terrain is well protected. As Josh mentioned, a topo is helpful but if you forget it the route generally trends right. If you come across any old manky bolts, you're off route, as all the bolts and anchors on this route are new.
|By Tony B|
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 22, 2010
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R
1000' feet and barely a hold to mention. This route is truely slab climbing most of the way and a pretty amazing experience even if you are not a fan of slabs. When you are done with it, you'll be a better climber for having done it.
The setting is stunning, particularly early in the season when the surrounding areas still hold snow.
|By Phil Esra|
Aug 3, 2010
Definitely run out. Up to 30 feet between bolts on hard 5.8. (The 9th pitch is rated 5.8 and has 1 bolt in 100 feet of climbing, but it's easy compared to the other 5.8 pitches). Maybe if you're doing the direct start 5.8 is too easy to care about the pro on, but if 10a is pushing your limits, you're going to find some of the pitches quite run out.
In typical summer weather in early august we found the rock hot to the touch and pretty greasy.
|By bud miller|
From: SAR site, Camp4
Oct 6, 2012
This climb should not be called R. The run out sections are incredibly easy and you will not find better bolted slab cruxes anywhere in California. You could almost french free the 10D section. That being said, its an awesome route, do it.
Nov 7, 2012
I think adding an "R" to this route is totally fair. Okay, so all the crux moves are essentially well protected, and if you're a pretty good slab climber in the ~.10 range on granite than you have nothing to worry about and will love the climb. But, honestly folks, 1 bolt in > 100 ft of climbing even if it is ~5.7 is, well, run out. There are plenty of opportunities for someone, particularly with little slab experience, to get injured on this route. That being said, it's a great day on the rock.
From: Claremont, CA
May 11, 2013
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Crest Jewel - mostly 5.7-5.8 face/slab climbing with a few spots of 5.9 and maybe a 5.10a move. Bring a good selection of runners (many singles, a few doubles/triples should do) will help avoid rope drag, and bring plenty of water if doing it in a hot month like Jun-Aug. The times I've done it, I've hiked the Porcupine Flat trail head on 120 and love that way.
From: Sacramento, CA
May 14, 2013
I found the first .10a section (pitch 2) to be harder than the upper .10a pitch. Maybe because your getting used to smearing on the orange polish but the lower pitch seemed like it had harder moves. The upper .10a pitch is more sustained with delicate moves through about 3 bolts.
I don't know whether I would call this route R or not. There are large runnouts but as stated on easier ground. The 9th pitch has one bolt and so technically you could take close to a >100ft cheesegrate if you blew it. That being said, if you can lead the or even follow the .10a pitches there is very little chance you would fall there.
Very classic route!
|By Leo Ramirez|
May 20, 2014
Climbed Crest jewel approaching from Porcupine creek. A note on the approach, We steyed kind of high on the manzanitas and walked all the way the edge of the slabs to a crack and found a rapping station (webbing around a choketone). I agree that first 10a portion is harder (it felt more slippery) than the upper 10a portion. Short traverse sections were the mental cruxes for me. I must say that "Run out" means different things for different people. This route is definitely R in my book specially when a >100ft cheese-grate although unlikely, is possible. Indeed a classic calveathon. Kudos to those of you who link up with Royal Arches; you are in good shape.