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P-Crack

5.9-, Trad, 80 ft,  Avg: 3.1 from 84 votes
FA: Rusty Garing, Chip Barclay '71
California > Central Coast > San Luis Obispo > Bishop Peak > P-Wall

Description

The route follows the broken corner on the left side of P-wall up to the beginning of Impacted Stool Crack and then traverses right to the first bolt. I usually run it out to here but if you want protection, bring those hexes or large cams and long slings. After the bolt, the climb follows the crack up to the second bolt. Once clipped, traverse right and then up to the anchors. You can climb straight up after the second bolt but it's 5.10. This is a great route for learing trad and its fun if you continue up on Letterman to the next anchors and then scramble the rest of the way to the top of the peak.

Protection

There are two bolts along the route and you will need gear starting from small to 2.5" Bring longs slings to extend your first couple pieces otherwise rope drag will have you crying.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Coby heading up the classic P-Crack.<br>
Photo Tom Slater
[Hide Photo] Coby heading up the classic P-Crack. Photo Tom Slater
Revised photo of P Wall.  Note the added bolts and unused anchors below Jump For Joy and atop the flake (this was once a natural belay). Also note that the toprope anchors high on P Wall Direct/Hanging Teeth have been removed.<br>
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I have also corrected Route Canal and Hanging Teeth.<br>
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1 - Stage Fright (5.10a), 2 - Indecent Exposure (5.7), 3 - Out of Hangers (5.10a(R)), 4 - Impacted Stool Crack (5.9(R)), 5 - P-Crack (5.8), 6 & 6a - Letterman (5.6), 7 - Black Streak (5.10a(R)), 8 - Jump for Joy (5.9(R)), 9 - Route Canal (5.10b), 10 - Hanging Teeth (5.8(R)), 11 - P-Wall Direct (5.8(R)).
[Hide Photo] Revised photo of P Wall. Note the added bolts and unused anchors below Jump For Joy and atop the flake (this was once a natural belay). Also note that the toprope anchors high on P Wall Direct/Han…
Kyle Weedon takes a maiden lap up the best line on the Central Coast.
[Hide Photo] Kyle Weedon takes a maiden lap up the best line on the Central Coast.
Menzo at the crux after having clipped the second bolt.
[Hide Photo] Menzo at the crux after having clipped the second bolt.
Menzo at top of P-crack 6/9/2019
[Hide Photo] Menzo at top of P-crack 6/9/2019
View to belay from top anchor showing route.
[Hide Photo] View to belay from top anchor showing route.
Excerpt from 1978 Guide from Dwight Kroll.
[Hide Photo] Excerpt from 1978 Guide from Dwight Kroll.
Vickie on the Letterman variation. Clip a bolt then muddle your way through the bird/bat poo. It would be a great variation if it weren't for the guano.
[Hide Photo] Vickie on the Letterman variation. Clip a bolt then muddle your way through the bird/bat poo. It would be a great variation if it weren't for the guano.
This would be a good pic if it weren't for the old people in the way. Great views from here & the top of P-Wall. I often see people just hanging out here & at the Letterman anchors enjoying the view.
[Hide Photo] This would be a good pic if it weren't for the old people in the way. Great views from here & the top of P-Wall. I often see people just hanging out here & at the Letterman anchors enjoying the view.
Getting ready to get into the crack.
[Hide Photo] Getting ready to get into the crack.
Vickie grabs the lower rail at the crux of the climb. Leaving the crack & finding the lower rail is the key to this climb.
[Hide Photo] Vickie grabs the lower rail at the crux of the climb. Leaving the crack & finding the lower rail is the key to this climb.
Aaron styling with the heel hook at the traverse, during the onsight.
[Hide Photo] Aaron styling with the heel hook at the traverse, during the onsight.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Scott Bullock
  5.9-
[Hide Comment] This is a very exciting lead. It is one of the best climbs on the hill. The crack is full of great holds and jams. It likes nuts at the start and medium to small cams as you move up. I once took a 15' whip onto a number 1 camalot placed below the first bolt, it held beautifully in the hard dysite. The traverse is the mental crux as you move out right, patience is the key as the holds are there. Fantastic exposure and well protected. Go climb it! Feb 11, 2004
John Knight
Sedona
  5.9-
[Hide Comment] I've done this route a bunch of times. It's probably the best route on the entire P-wall. Although the crack is 5.8ish and takes a ton of gear, the traverse can be 5.9+. Sometimes it (the traverse) goes easy and feels like 5.8, other times it feels like 5.9+. This is a great route for a solid 5.9 leader. The crack sucks up gear and the traverse is protected by 2 solid bolts. If you get tired, you can just "French Free" the crux. Take the 5.6 upper pitch (a bit runout) to Letterman and enjoy the new anchor bolts! Rap the route (2 raps if you have a 60m rope) to get down. Feb 11, 2004
Jon Hanlon
SLO
  5.8+
[Hide Comment] I noticed that the block at the base of the crack itself is gone. I am curious if it went by itself, or if it was persuaded. Oct 30, 2006
[Hide Comment] I think that the big block fell off in a storm. We came back to after a small storm and the tree had fallen and the block was gone. The better question is where are the remnants of the block. Sep 26, 2007
[Hide Comment] I seriously doubt that a “small storm” would be capable for dislodging that large block. I climbed P-Crack not more than a few weeks after it was lamentably pried off with a crowbar. There were what appeared to be pry marks left just above where the block was attached.

BTW: This is the editor’s overly PC revision/interpretation of my original comment (“lamentably”… please) Oct 22, 2007
Jon Hanlon
SLO
  5.8+
[Hide Comment] I spoke to somebody who talked to the guy who pried the block off. Apparently the person thought he was doing everyone a favor. Nov 2, 2007
[Hide Comment] Please, NO more tinkering with P-Crack!
It’s perfectly fine the way it is, no additional “improvements” necessary.

If someone has that big of a problem with the new hanging belay, they can belay from the ground. Use a 60m and a few long runners. I’ve done it this way several times, not a problem. Jan 2, 2008
Jon Hanlon
SLO
  5.8+
[Hide Comment] Relocating the anchor would alter four established lines and would NOT be a good idea. It should be left alone. Jan 4, 2008
Rich Graziano
San Luis Obispo, CA
 
[Hide Comment] Leave it all as it is. There's nothing problematic with the bolt anchor. Apr 27, 2008
Floyd Hayes
  5.9
[Hide Comment] If climbing in two roped pitches, the first pitch felt more like easy class 5 (5.4?) than class 4 and is about 70' long, the second from the "hanging belay" is about 80'. It's a pity the first bolt of the crux is on the left side of the crack and so low, because it is easy to get a solid cam in the crack above the bolt, which obviates the need for the bolt; furthermore, the bolt would have been better placed well to the right of the crack to reduce the pendulum potential. The moves are there and may not be harder than 5.8, but they weren't all that obvious and it took me some time to figure out where they were, so it felt like 5.9 during my onsight lead. If rappelling from a 60 m (200 ft) rope, you can make it to the ground in a single rappel by rapping into the gully above and left of the base of the climb. Mar 22, 2010
John Knight
Sedona
  5.9-
[Hide Comment] Re: "...crux traverse felt more like 5.9."

I discovered there are two ways to do the "crux traverse". The "high traverse" or the "low traverse".

To do the "high traverse", clip the 'bomber' 1/2" bolt, then step up the crack and place a red alien (or your cam of similar size) about 4' above the bolt. Then move right to grab the rail and do the traverse. You'll be well protected by your cam above the bolt but you will experience a harder "5.9-ish" crux. Once you make the traverse you should be standing at an easy spot to clip the 2nd bolt.

To do the slightly easier "low traverse", clip the 1/2" bolt at the top of the crack then immediately move right with the bolt about waist height. After making the traverse, you'll need to step up to clip the 2nd bolt. I think this variation feels more like 5.8.

Both of them are fun and both are reasonably protected by either a high cam or the first bolt.

Have fun doing P-Crack. I think it's the best lead & best climb at Bishop Peak. Jul 19, 2012
Nik Benko
Salt Lake City
[Hide Comment] Did this one for the first time the other day as one of my first few leads with gear and had a blast. However I think the "4th Class" approach to the belay anchors as described in the Slater guide is more than a little understated. I headed up it with my rope in my pack anticipating a fairly safe and easy scramble to the anchors but wound up scrambling to find holds pretty high up. I made it to the anchors alright but I don't know if advertising it as 4th class is a good idea. Was it a poor choice of mine to go up rock I hadn't climbed before unroped? Hell yeah it was. Is it do able by a bold climber who doesn't mind the exposure, sure. But I'd agree with Floyd and call it "easy fifth" and highly recommend bringing a large piece or two to protect the crack before the traverse over to the hanging belay. Overall the best route I've climbed on Bishops once you get to the belay. Jan 8, 2014
[Hide Comment] There are nesting Canyon Wrens in P-Crack! Stay off this thing for a few months. They are beautiful birds that aren't that common around here so lets let them feel safe. Apr 26, 2016
Christian Hesch
  5.8+
[Hide Comment] Best trad line in SLO, IMO...really no need to clip any of the low bolts, there's plenty of gear there (though I usually only protect the early low angle 50-60' with a 000 and 00 at around 35' in). Crux traverse is always fun, funny how that rail to the right of the crack seems to magically appear in your hand, yet it's always an inch or two further away than I remember, haha.

Great practice route as it seems to have a little bit of everything in one long pitch. fwiw, an 80m will allow a full rap/lower back down to the normal start instead of having to stop off at the ledge under Impacted Stool. Solid 5.8/5.8+, 5.9- if you don't nail everything perfectly. Also one of the better views in the city :) May 22, 2018