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The Sperm 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: E1 5a

Type: Trad, 4 pitches, 350', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Brad Shaver and Bob Mitchell. FFA, Shaver and Grover Cable in 1976
Season: Dry
Page Views: 4,349
Submitted By: Rob Dillon on Oct 16, 2006
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The end of pitch 2.

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This is the obvious left-to-right-angling crack on the slabby left end of the North Face. A cross between classic Looking Glass eyebrow-wandering and the more strenuous crack climbs to the right.

Begin by climbing up to, and then through, the fallopian chimney that marks the start. Thinking that this squeezer is 5.9 will only get you in trouble elsewhere. 5.8, 80'.

P2: 80 feet of right-leaning crack ends at a pair of bolts. This and the first pitch are easily combined; 5.9.

P3: Inobvious moves in the vicinity of a short vertical crack (5.9+) lead to easier ground up and left. Belay from bolts. 100'

P4: Standard 'Fields of Lichen Growing Wild'; eyebrow version. 5.7, 100'.


The usual stuff will suffice. Bring walkoff shoes.

Photos of The Sperm Slideshow Add Photo
The Sperm from the ground
BETA PHOTO: The Sperm from the ground
Stef getting squeezed
Stef getting squeezed
climbers in the first pitch squeeze
climbers in the first pitch squeeze
Pitch two hand jams
Pitch two hand jams
Coming up the chimney.
Coming up the chimney.
Unknown climbers on the third pitch
Unknown climbers on the third pitch
Following the sweet handcrack pitch #2.
Following the sweet handcrack pitch #2.
Comments on The Sperm Add Comment
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By Danny Inman
From: Arvada
Apr 23, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

P1 and P2 are straight forward. I ended up doing P3 and P4 as one long pitch which worked out well. Judging from the lichen on P3 and P4 these pitched are seldom done, but are worth while.

By JacobD
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Aug 3, 2007

First pitch didn't feel like 5.8, It felt more like 5.6. The next two pitches are considerably harder.

By Ryan Williams
From: London (sort of)
Sep 8, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a

This was my first real chimney of any kind and it was a hard lead for me, but about half way up I kinda figured it out and actually enjoyed the last 20 feet or so. Didn't know the grade before I started so I won't speculate on what it felt like... all I know is that the next one will feel easier.

Lead the second pitch as well but my calves were burning from LK the day before... at about the half way point I was actually wishing that it was more vertical!

By JohnWesely
From: Red River Gorge
Sep 25, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a

The chimney was by far the hardest part. That thing thrashed me.

By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Oct 18, 2011

Freaky Deaky fun stuff all around!! First pitch is super straight forward but you better harness your inner Santa Clause because its all Chimney!! Second is pretty classic slab/crack climbing, quality stuff but the less then vertical pumps your calfs out. Third/fourth link up is fun and exposed off the belay and slackens up as you reach the eyebrows above. At the tree ledge we walked up right and rap'd off the two trees with fix slings down to the bolted belay on "Deep Throat" and then to the deck.

  • two 60m ropes will do just fine if you want to save yourself a walk off*

By DJ Shalvey
Nov 8, 2012
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- E2 5b

Ummm, not 5.6. Really?! Well, anyway, the first pitch for me was the crux. The chimney part was no big deal and the crack/slab pitch was awesome. Go do it, but don't do it if it's wet, at all. Hey, have a great day now!

By Kyle Kimball
From: Asheville, NC
Sep 15, 2013
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a

Second pitch Definitely felt like the crux to me. First pitch is just so fun though, kind of wish it was easier to do it by itself. Third pitch wasn't that great though once you get past the super fun moves right off the belay.

Also, the beta page should be changed- there aren't any bolts on the third pitch.