Type: Trad, 60 ft
FA: John Bald, Hugh Burton, and John Long - January 1974
Page Views: 5,976 total · 30/month
Shared By: M. Morley on Oct 18, 2002
Admins: C Miller, Greg Opland, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Gem is a shorter crack (just 60') on the right hand side of the Corridor Face to the right of Colorado Crack. Climb the hand crack which widens to fists towards the top. Anchor: slung block (cordalette and/or long webbing helpful). To descend, scramble off to the north (climber's right). This involves a move or two of downclimbing.


Single set of cams - .5 to 3".
From the ground this think looks steep - and it is. It also looks like it should be a lot of fun, but the 'problem' is very, very gritty rock. Busted up my hands through my tape gloves!

Steep, gread jams, a lot of fun is you don't mind the pain. Unfortunately that spoiled it for me. Mar 29, 2005
The rock is not "gritty" (meaning loose ballbearings on surface); it is quite solid. The texture of all the cracks on this wall is coarse (but solid). Good jamming technique will allow you to easily climb it without tape and without damage to your hands. Sep 19, 2005
Well, good technique or not, if I ever climb this route again, I'm going to tape my left arm to the elbow. Sep 20, 2005
Adam Stackhouse    
I agree with Woody. Whatever term used, it was rough rock. Not chossy, but a grinder nevertheless. Feb 4, 2006
Portland, OR
Obi   Portland, OR
2nd half of this crack is pure jamming. Great way to force new crack climbers to learn jamming techniques. Oct 4, 2006
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
susan peplow   Joshua Tree
This route has teeth! I don't use mitts or tape but after climbing this route I was thinking about it!!

Fun but tough on the back of the hands. Ouch. Oct 9, 2006
Will S
Joshua Tree
Will S   Joshua Tree
It's true, the crack is very coarse, but the saving grace is the crystals are not sharp, they're pretty polished. The jug handle feature at the bottom is kinda cool, but I can't believe people sling it for pro...seems less than solid to me, to the point I wouldn't even pull on it. Feb 23, 2007
Twentynine Palms, CA
Smanson   Twentynine Palms, CA
This crack was GREAT!!! My jams felt so solid throughout the whole climb and my hands didn't get beat up like they do in most J-Tree cracks! Loved it! Feb 8, 2009
Pat C
Pat C   Honolulu
This was my first handjam crack and first lead with a new partner, so I wanted to look awesome. My hands were sooooo tight in this crack that I lost about three layers of skin when I was finally out of it. Like putting ones fingers into a puppy's mouth. May 11, 2009
lars johnson
San Francisco, CA
lars johnson   San Francisco, CA
Great climb, but for me, it felt stiffer than Colorado Crack. Dec 20, 2009
Palm Desert, CA
DaveGustafson   Palm Desert, CA
Simply outstanding! Can't believe that we were climbing Gem in 79 degree weather in the middle of June. Great crack. I felt it was an in your face kinda 5.8... one that is great for crack technique. Tape gloves, as mentioned above, are a MUST! Do this route! Jun 13, 2010
Grin and bear it for this one, there are no cheater holds on the face for the upper crack. I thought it was close to as hard as Colorado Crack but in a different way. If you like to suffer a bit do this crack! Mar 14, 2011
Sherman oaks, ca
BrendanC   Sherman oaks, ca
Really fun. The crux is pulling up into the crack above the wide rest. It's on bomber gear and the rest is no hands so...
However, it's a high step on a fully weighted jam. Thicker mitts will love this top section, for me it was cupped hands and not that easy since I didn't feel solid yarding on anything. My partner climbed the top like it was 5.5 cuz his hands fit perfectly, I think he put in one piece. The angle eases off quickly. Gear anchor in the block above. Walk off, or rap off Boulderado anchor 15' to climbers left. Getting to the bolt anchor requires an easy, but scary ledge walk. Gem may be "easier" than Colorado Crack but it requires more pure crack skill.
I tape for all these cracks and it didn't feel any more coarse than any of the others, except maybe Ace of Spades which is basically white Yosemite granite. May 15, 2011
Lonnie Valencia
Los Angeles, California
Lonnie Valencia   Los Angeles, California
Most assuredly a gem and a must-do!! Mar 25, 2012
I liked it better than Colorado Crack because it had more straight-in jamming. Rock is coarse - lots of blood left on this route. Good gear. Great jams. Nov 22, 2012
pasadena, ca
Kevin.5000   pasadena, ca
The rock was coarse and painful. Our group consensus was that it was pretty tough for a 5.8. Oct 27, 2014