I had planned on getting to this all last season and finally got it yesterday. The waterfall just to the left was raging about a foot off the side which made things interesting. This route looks a lot easier than it climbs, it's a good idea to place gear pretty much every move near the bottom to be safe and not deck on the sharp boulder at the base. Great climb tho.
On one level I hear you. The crux comes at a bulge that still feels awfully close to the block at the base. I've gotten weirded out there myself. But the leader has great options. I've put in a another cam and taken a hang there-- IIRC it was a bomber #2 Camalot, but there are probably a dozen other things you could place there. It's totally safe, so long as you do what you're supposed to do. You should place a lot of gear. And you don't need to extend the gear down low, the climb goes in a straight line.
You can't base the rating on what might happen if the gear comes out. If this were the standard then many, perhaps all, G-rated climbs would be unsafe. And as to whether the hands are "critical," well, aren't they always? This climb has great gear all the way up, and great handholds. If it isn't G-rated, then what is?
100% agree with Seth, this is one of a few climbs in the Gunks, where you have gear above your head almost the entire way up - just throw a nut up higher and your move is on TR.
By Chris Duca Administrator From: Havertown, PA May 17, 2011 rating: 5.75a15V+13MVS 4b
This and Ant's Line are the 2 safest climbs in the Gunks. gear every inch if you want it, plentiful feet, and, without a doubt, the most secure finger, hand jams in the Gunks. A very safe AND inspiring lead for the budding 5.7 crack climber. And it's not a sandbag, as others may have indicated.
Gear is no doubt a G, but 5.7? This crack is very pumpy. I would throw it into the 5.8 category and definitely not recommend it for the budding 5.7 leader. I myself am relatively new to 5.7 leading at the Gunks. I would put someone on Limelight and Strictly's before this climb.
By Chris Duca Administrator From: Havertown, PA Jun 19, 2011 rating: 5.75a15V+13MVS 4b
Sure, if you're new to crack climbing, then this route may feel a bit stout, but climb cracks enough and the jams on this line become as good as jugs.
As someone with little crack experience, I actually thought this route was easier than it looked. Features both inside and outside the crack offered some really solid hands, and solid feet whenever you really need them. Plus there were some good rests. You should be pretty comfortable with a layback once in a while, but you don't need to be a crack specialist.
I think this is a fine climb to put a 5.7 leader on. It eats gear. There is no reason to get hurt on this climb. Plug gear and go. We put a new trad leader (5.12 sport leader) on this climb the other day and he put in at least 12 pieces of pro on this climb. You can totally sew it.
By cjdrover From: Somerville, MA Nov 6, 2011 rating: 5.75a15V+13MVS 4b
Short, safe and fun. 5.7 G feels spot on to me, it might feel strange for some folks since it climbs more like a granite crack than a typical Gunks climb. Would be 4 stars if it was three times longer.
I love this route, even though it's so short, because it's one of the few routes at the Gunks that offers the opportunity to get stellar hand and finger jams (another being Sonja, but it's a notch up in difficulty). I agree with the 5.7 rating, but I think this rating only applies if you're proficient at hand-jamming and finger-locking and you get the crux sequence just right. That being said, hand-jamming and finger-locking don't come naturally to most climbers and the Gunks offers very few options for training this esoteric technique, unlike other areas like Indian Creek, Yosemite, and Red River Gorge where good crack technique is mandatory for most trad routes. I think this explains why some beginners find Ken's Crack really tricky and/or polished. Done with proper crack technique it's a breeze. So if you feel it's difficult I recommend schooling up on crack technique and using this as an opportunity to experiment with different types of jams.