Yearly raptor closures typically begin March 1 and remain in effect until August 1, or until further notice.
East of Glacier Point Apron. Closure includes all routes above 200 feet from the base of the cliff east of Glacier Point Apron including "A Mother's Lament" to the Illilouette Gorge. Half Dome, South Face - Overlooking Little Yosemite Valley. Closure includes all routes from "Autobahn" east to and including "South Face Route."
On the east side of the apron a great finger crack ascends in a rightward sloping direction. Easy protection on a moderate angle make this a classic beginners route.
Pitch 1 - (5.5) Go directly up the easy slabs along a left facing dihedral until it is overlapped by a right facing one. Continue up into the crack.
Pitch 2 - (5.6) Follow the crack as it slowly slopes to the right. At one point perfect double finger cracks open up.
Pitch 3 - (5.6) Continue up the crack until it fades out then either go up and left (easier) or go directly to the double bolt anchors across the face (a bit more difficult).
Descend the route by rapping the bolt anchors on The Grack - Marginal (if it is clear). This can be done in two raps with two 60m. Make sure you use the second bolt anchors if attempting to do it in two raps. If Marginal is crowded then you can go to the south (climbers left) and rap off blocks and trees.
Once you are at the apron it is easiest to find The Grack by looking for the long line of people waiting to climb it. If by some chance the route is devoid of people look for the most worn finger crack on the wall. It is so worn that it is visible from across the valley.
Gear to 2 inches with a focus on small nuts and cams.
This is a great climb in the Valley. Get up early, because this is a heavy traffic area. P2 was the best pitch for me... a nice low angle crack. The last time I climbed this route I ran into two bats chillin' in the crack on the second pitch! Fortunately, they did not bite... There is always word of large rockfall in this area, so climbers beware.
By Sergio P From: Idaho Springs, CO Jun 24, 2007 rating: 5.64c14V12S 4b
With a 70m rope you can link pitch 2 & 3. Also, rapping with a 70m works fine.
For a fun variation, start to the right of the left facing corner and do the slab/friction up to the juggy moves over the bulge. P2/3 is beautiful hands/fingers/tips with great feet the whole way.
We did it Sunday 8/30 and we were the only ones on that side of the apron. Could have been because it was 90 degrees and in the morning sun but still cool to have it all to ourselves. Super fun, sustained moderate climb. Highly recommended.
To get up this FAST (reducing risk of rockfall), consider simulclimbing, at least for the first two pitches. The leader can lead the first two pitches without pausing to belay after pitch 1 while the follower simulclimbs on pitch 1. Pitch 1 is easy class 4 until near the top and there is no way the follower is going to fall, so simulclimbing here is as safe as it gets. Once atop pitch 2 the leader can belay the follower at the crux of the climb (a tricky move for 5.6) near the top of pitch 1.
By Dave Alden From: San Diego, CA Feb 28, 2011 rating: 5.75a15V+13MVS 4b PG13
Very fun route, probably would link pitches if ever climbed again. A little bit of loose rock in places. Views were incredible!
This may be the absolute best 5.6 climb ANYWHERE! I've done it 5 times over the years, and if I lived closer to California it would be many time that number. The second lead is the "real deal;" possibly as classic as it gets.
We found the approach described in the book to be unnecessarily difficult. We descended straight down from the Grack and it was super easy and quick. Here's the beta from the parking lot described in the book.
Take the main hiker's trail (found at the NE corner of the parking lot) for a few hundred meters until you pass an A-Frame roofed outbuilding on the right (it will be obvious). Go 30 meters further and turn right (towards the Apron) and hike up towards the climbs. Follow the faint trail as it skirts a bog for a few hundred meters(keep the bog on your left). When the trail hits the steep part of the hill, go up. There is a system of trails coming down from the Grack. This way cuts out a lot of needless up and down scrambling, but may be a little confusing the first time. If nothing else, you can descend from the Grack this way and cut out the return scramble.
Just returned from The Grack. Definite bad beta. You need TWO (2) sixties to rap down Marginal. One 70 does not make it, we tried! And the approach beta really needs updating, read previous comment. Great time! Wear helmets, everyone, a rain of small rocks throughout the day was... disconcerting.
303scott's approach beta is the way to go. Ensure you are getting on the marked hiker's trail from the parking lot. Once up at the rock, keep going left (which will involve a brief downclimb before resuming uphill) until you see the huge scree slope (in other words, where there is essentially no more base traversing remaining) - this will seem like you're going too far, but it's the spot!
Climbed this at 9AM on an April Tuesday and nobody was there at all (if you get out early enough on an offseason weekday, I've found the warnings of crazy crowds are generally overgeneralized). The Apron was wet in spots but not on our line! After a more precipitous winter, it probably would still be wet at this point.
We found the belay spots to be somewhat confusing using a 60m rope. We maxed out our 60m on P1, yet still found ourselves without enough rope to get to a sensible belay spot after P2 (instead, we traversed left and used the slung boulder rappel station for the second belay). Not positive, but I think the climb overall would link up well as a total of 2 pitches with a 70m rope.
We rapped from the top with two 60m to the aforementioned slung boulder rappel, then did another two-rope rap to the ground. I was told by another climber there that the first rap should actually be off right as you finish the climb (obviously, there are a few rap options).
It IS possible to rap this on a single 70; knot your ends as it's a rope stretcher to reach the second station. You'll have to reach just slightly down from near the ends of the rope to clip into the second set of bolts. Four raps from top to bottom on a 70.
If you take the traditional approach up the trail you'll need to continue along the base of wall for about 1/4 mile or so, down a ravine or two, before reaching the climb.
Approach: From the last parking lot just before the "Do Not Enter" sign at the road to Happy Isles, follow the directions as described by 303scott. The main hikers' trail that you start out on is wide (room for >1 persons abreast) and obvious. Note that the Grack routes are on the East face, so if you're starting from this parking lot, you will go around the left corner of Glacier Point Apron, until it appears you're at the end of the rock. If you're uncertain, skirt the trail along the base of the rock, eastward until you find the route. There's a distinct large downward pointing horn on the first pitch after the 3rd-4th class climbing.
Our climb: Climbed the route with a 70m rope in two long pitches. Semi-hanging belay/anchor station (top of ~67m first pitch) had a small convenient foot ledge and was created with 2 nuts and a cam (double sliding x). The top of our second pitch easily reached the double bolt rap anchors. For most, I would not consider this route to be a good beginner's easy trad lead due to run-outs, including a section before the top - which can be minimized by heading for easier ground to the left and bring doubles of pro for the crack. The grade felt accurate.
Rappel: Rappelled down in four pitches using a single 70m rope. As mentioned, the first rap brings you just above anchors of The Grack, Marginal but within reach. The next station is almost directly below. The last station was a rap ring on slings around a tree.
If I was to do it again, I'd climb earlier or later to avoid the sun and heat (6/7/13); I think due to the heat, we might have been only ones to climb it that day - no conga line. It was a good, quality climb, but I would not call it one of the best 5.6's anywhere.
By TacoDelRio From: All up in yo bidniss. Aug 27, 2013
I personally enjoy doing this in 2 pitches. P1 is up to the tree left of the route. P2 traverses slab (Slab Jesus mode) unprotected, then climbs to top. 70m rope. Might not be a good idea if you don't like gaining the crack from a traverse.
Going to the tree for the first pitch is off route. That's the first pitch for the Grack, Left. It's not as fun and you skip one of the 5.6 cruxes on the Center route. You could stay on the Center route and still probably do it in two pitches.
By TacoDelRio From: All up in yo bidniss. Sep 1, 2013
Doesn't matter what grade you climb, this route is beautiful! Go have some fun!
By Logan Swartz From: Davis, CA Jan 21, 2014 rating: 5.64c14V12S 4b
Half way on pitch 2 there is a 6 or 7 nut that moves that can be removed with a little effort. Also half way on pitch 2 if you look in the crack two nuts are just laying there in the crack not stuck. Should be able to grab them with a long nut tool.
I HIGHLY recommend simuling the whole thing if you are your partner are comfortable with it. Doing this as one long pitch is absolutely spectacular, especially for the leader.
Bring a TON of trad draws, a large set of nuts (I used a full wallnut set and the HB offsets), and a standard cam rack up to a #2. Honestly, there is so much fixed mank on this route that you hardly need to place anything if you are comfortable with long runouts on 5.6 granite slab (which you damn well should be if you are simuling).