Type: Trad, Grade III
FA: Ed Webster, Pete Williams 1979
Page Views: 58,941 total · 221/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Mar 28, 2002 · Updates
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, GRK, D C

You & This Route

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Description Suggest change

What an incredible route!! Lightning Bolt Cracks is one of the undisputed must-do ultra-classic desert towers and would be worth doing for the summit alone even if the climbing was total crap. The position rivals the final pitch of the Naked Edge.

The route can be done in 3 or 4 pitches (or even 2, for some)--many different belays are possible. 

P1-start on the right side of the east face in the beautiful splitter crack (fingers to chimney). The left crack is 5.11+ and also very pretty. I thought the real crux of this pitch was not at the beginning (rated 5.11a), but the overhanging, somewhat difficult to protect moves into the awkward leaning slot (rated variously 5.9 or 5.10) above. There is a questionable small wire left of the slot if you don't have a big cam.

One can belay directly above the slot (big cam, chockstone) or traverse left at 5.9+ and belay in a V-slot with mediocre rock but a better stance.

P2-two options-thin 5.11 fingers widening to splitter off-hands over a roof on the right, or 5.9 flared chimney widening to off-fists over a roof on the left. I took the left, which is rated 5.10, although fairly burly by Creek 5.10 standards. You can also start up the left slot and sneakily traverse right to the splitter off-hands which apparently is the easiest way to do the pitch.

Belay above the roof if desired (medium-large friends and/or more fixed delectables), or it is better to continue up and left (5.10-) in the acute corner to a spectacular belay just under the bombay chimney/roof.

P3-An unnerving spectacle: turn the huge roof (amazingly, only 5.10) into good hand jams; follow the cracks through progressively worse rock to the base of the final chimney. Optional belay here (small cams needed) or continue into the final squeeze chimney to the summit (rope drag shouldn't be an issue here as you'll be inching your way up anyway). Enjoy one of the best views of your life, then rappel.

Protection Suggest change

Bring a double set of camming devices from tcus/small aliens to a number four friend. A number four camalot can be useful, and a number five camalot [edit: old size - so now, a number 6] helps in protecting the first pitch slot but plenty of people do the route without it.

The final squeeze chimney is secure if you can slip deep inside. I've heard that a number four big bro would fit here. Big people will find it easier to climb as an off-width on the outside, but that would be a damn scary way to lead it! There used to be a bolt but it has been pulled.

Plan on setting your own belay anchors or at least backing up the dubious fixed anchors that do exist. Bring lots of long runners.