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Rusty Wall
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Finish What You Started T 
Maneater, The T,TR 
O'Kelley's Crack T 
Riddles in the Dark (aka Ok Crank) T 
Slapshot T 
Wangerbanger T 

O'Kelley's Crack 

YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b

   
Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 60'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Tobin Sorenson, Jim Wilson, Dean Fidelman & Gary Ayres, March 1975
Page Views: 14,491
Submitted By: Josh Beck on Apr 1, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (106)
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Jorge climbing O'Kelly's Crack

Description 

A gnarly 5.11 boulder problem start (cupped hands or fists and awkward tight fingers, can be aided) leads to stellar 5.10 hands up a gorgeous vertical wall. This route is as good as the best desert splitters and is on some of the best rock in jtree. In my opinion, the best route in the park by a signifigant margin and one of the best routes anywhere.


Protection 

Take a good selection of .75" - 3" cams, mostly in the hand size. A big piece or two might be nice to protect two short offwidth sections but aren't totally necessary. At least one thin piece (TCU) if not a couple are needed to protect the gnarly boulder problem start.



Photos of O'Kelley's Crack Slideshow Add Photo
The proper way to get past that little nuisance at the bottom.
BETA PHOTO: The proper way to get past that little nuisance at...
Climbing O'Kelley's Crack <br />Photo by Darshan Ahluwalia
Climbing O'Kelley's Crack
Photo by Darshan Ahluwal...
photographer Patrick Olson, climber Luke Olson, enjoying O'Kelley's
photographer Patrick Olson, climber Luke Olson, en...
Brad soloing O'Kelley's Crack.
Brad soloing O'Kelley's Crack.
Who said vertical?
Who said vertical?
Rusty Wall, showing <a href='/v/wangerbanger/105722356'>Wangerbanger</a> (L) and <a href='/v/okelleys-crack/105722353'>O'Kelley's Crack</a> (R).
BETA PHOTO: Rusty Wall, showing Wangerbanger (L) and [[105722...
DK getting the onsight!
DK getting the onsight!
Solved the crux on O'Kelly’s crack. Seriously though that start really sucks.
BETA PHOTO: Solved the crux on O'Kelly’s crack. Seriously thou...
O'Kelley's Crack
O'Kelley's Crack
Alternate variation to the start for those without a head to stand on.
Alternate variation to the start for those without...
body jammin
body jammin
Me at the start
Me at the start
A nice break from Disneyland!
A nice break from Disneyland!
Jon Freriks starting  the route on a SUPER COLD day.
Jon Freriks starting the route on a SUPER COLD da...
After the steep hands section, getting into the wider section
After the steep hands section, getting into the wi...
In case you were wondering which crack was O'Kelly's.   A fun romp by the way.
BETA PHOTO: In case you were wondering which crack was O'Kelly...
so pumped!
so pumped!
Blake high on the route
Blake high on the route
John Learned looking stylish just past the start.
John Learned looking stylish just past the start.
Great fun! Onsight!
Great fun! Onsight!
Nice rest after the stiff start
Nice rest after the stiff start
Owen on O'Kelly's after being handed the lead by Fred Batliner.
Owen on O'Kelly's after being handed the lead by F...
Just past the problem start
Just past the problem start
Comments on O'Kelley's Crack Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 17, 2014
By Joe Collins
Nov 26, 2002
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

How a route with a hard-V3 boulder problem off the deck can still be called 10c is beyond me... but such is tradition I guess. I think one of the guidebooks calls it 11a. This area can be very cold in the winter as it faces NE.

By Chris Owen
Administrator
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jan 7, 2003
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

A very powerful route with a problematic start, let the tall guy lead, but make sure he's butch.

Position, exposure, purity

Including the start.

By Randy
Jan 17, 2003
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

FA: Tobin Sorenson, Jim Wilson, Dean Fidelman, Gary Ayres, 3/75. Tobin was wild man on and off the rock (but seemed a real decent guy). The early to mid seventies was the start of the real exprolation of Joshua Tree (other than Hidden Valley C.G.) for climbing posibilities. An early and obvious classic.

The right hand face start (with cheat stones) is one move of 11a sure, but the rest of the climb is 10b/c. Calling it 5.11 really doesn't tell you the difficulty of climbing this route.

By Joe Collins
Jan 19, 2003
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Not to quibble about such matters, but a route with a 5.11-move is a 5.11 route. Obviously this isn't as demanding a route as a sustained 5.11 pitch, but such are the limitations of the YDS. A route like O'Kelley's practically begs for the more complicated British grading system where a grade is given for the technical difficulty and then a subjective grade for seriousness, continuousness, etc... (e.g. 6a E4)

By Murf
Jan 20, 2003

Randy/anyone - Wasn't there a climber named O'Kelly? Was this named after/for him?

By C Miller
Administrator
Jan 20, 2003
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Don O'Kelley was an early Josh climber who apparantly either aided the route or tried free-climbing the route unsucessfully. There is a picture of him hanging off the route in the old Wolfe guide.

By Chris Owen
Administrator
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jan 31, 2003
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

I'd scan it and post it but that would be bogus, so I'll describe it:He's hanging from a swami belt that's pulled up his shirt, staring at the camera looking rather dazed while licking his lips. Looks like he fell along way. There's got to be a story to it, does anyone know?

I liked the old guide, it had a lot more character and heart than the new guides, we could learn a lesson or two from it. Just don't use the F grades!

By Josh Beck
Mar 3, 2003

I recently went back to this route. I think that the direct start up the crack is not that bad - maybe 5.11-, certainly looked better than the crimp start, and who wants to use a cheat stone? Overall I would still give this route 5.11a or 5.11b, starting and climbing the crack via a cuppped hand or fist to the finger locks. Still my vote for best route in the park.

By Ben Craft
Mar 19, 2003
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

The rating would be 5.10c only if you forget about the first ten feet. I'd rate this 5.11a.

By Flying T
Mar 19, 2003

Josh grades were made much clearer to me when someone mentioned their theory that the climbs are rated without the first 10 feet in mind. Sounds like it applies here.

By Randy
Mar 19, 2003
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

In general I would agree with the statement about ignoring the first 10 feet. But then again, without the first 10 feet, Butterfly Crack at Trashcan Rock would be 5.9 instead of 5.11b or so. Humm....

By Ben Craft
Mar 19, 2003
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

It seems like a lot of the classics would be 5.9/10a if you forget about the first 10 feet (a few that come to mind are O'kelleys, clean and jerk, perpetual motion, and Red snapper). If it's a two move wonder on the ground or 20 feet up, the route should get a rating that reflects those moves.

By Murf
Mar 20, 2003

You mean the rating should reflect the hardest move? Interesting...

By Richard Beller
Dec 30, 2004

O'Kelley's is one of the premier routes I've ever done anywhere. The rating is just part of the mystique. Also, I think the cheatstone start is in the neighborhood of 10c, at least for a tall person. The direct start is definitely harder.

By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Dec 4, 2007
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Finally got on this thing. Stout. Even past the starting couple of moves it felt harder than anything on Wangerbanger. Calling this "hands to the top" after the start is very misleading, it does have a short section of slammer hands, but also fingers, liebacking, face, and a wide move or two. Save some juice for the last bodylength. Best route in the monument? Not even close, but probably in the top 10 and a must-do classic.

By Ryan Kelly
From: work.
Apr 30, 2008

Will S: "Best route in the monument? Not even close, but probably in the top 10 and a must-do classic."

I don't know... being in the top 10 out of some 6000 routes is pretty damn good, and I'd say "close".

By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Oct 23, 2008

beware of flakes in and out of the crack system near the top of the climb. they are loose and fragile.

By Fat Dad
From: Los Angeles, CA
May 20, 2009

I've been climbing at Josh since the mid-70s and when I first climbed this in the late 70s, everyone seemed to acknowledge that the cheatstone start was the standard start and the standard, FA start was more off a "direct." The varying amounts of chalk on each seemed to confirm that. No one quibbled about the rating either. Everyone I knew just called it .10c, which seemed right with the cheatstones. Nowadays, the harder start appears to have become the standard, hence all the comments about the sandbag rating.

The FA start is .11a or so and kind of size dependent. You have to stick a fist in a flared groove and yard off of it. If you have big meat paws, it sticks fine. If not, it won't. Though I've done Wangerbanger lots of time clean, I've never been able to make that one move on O'Kelly's.

By john strand
From: southern colo
Feb 17, 2010

scarpelli showed me how "fist the start" and he sure made it look easy. Of course with paws like his.... Like many Josh routes, the grade does not include the crux !

By Frost
Dec 14, 2010
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Even without the first boulder crux, this thing is not 10c. With the boulder problem, 11b/c would be my opinion (with all due admiration to the sandbag ethic of J-Tree).

By Russ Walling
From: www.FishProducts.com
Dec 14, 2010
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Industry standard for 5.10c

By Peter Valchev
From: Truckee, CA
Jan 14, 2012
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Awesome climb. There are no cheat stones to stand on, and the start moves are probably burly 11a/b if you're tall, harder otherwise (feels as hard/harder than the 11c pitch on Rostrum and harder than the 11a/11b pitches on it, for example, but sure it's much shorter). I managed to get to the jug on first go but I'm also 6'5", which probably helps (fell on the next moves, which are also not trivial, pumped out)

The rest of the climb is 10c, sure. So either call it 5.10c A0 or 5.11b, but calling it 5.10c makes no sense, unless it is a running joke (as it seems to be). Though hard, the start is very well protected..

But whatever, grades are subjective, who cares.

By Jon Clark
From: Philadelphia, PA
Mar 25, 2012

Being relatively short (5'6" with climbing shoes on) with average sized mitts and fingers (#2 camalot=perfect hands, 3/4"-1"=locker fingers) I found the direct start to be straightforward jamming and not at all height dependent.

By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Feb 27, 2013
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Same rating game can be said of the route Hook and Ladder. www.mountainproject.com/v/hook-and-ladder/105723970

By Tradoholic
Apr 23, 2013

Maybe the start is reachy? I lay-backed it with balance, got a perfect finger jam and hit the flat jug, not V3. I also tried Wanger Banger and that felt way harder, hand size dependent it seemed.

By Kevin DB
Dec 12, 2013
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

I think if you are tall and have beefy fingers then the start is not hard. I can see why it would give others problems though.

By busik
Feb 17, 2014

Start is not bad. one fist jam and then bomber fingerlocks. You can easily protect the entry move with blue mastercam. The whole route is quite physical though.