Type: Trad, TR
FA: John Gill, mid-1960s
Page Views: 12,909 total · 60/month
Shared By: Peter Franzen on Apr 24, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closure - 2018 Update Details


To think that John Gill originally climbed this as a boulder problem in the '60s is incredible.

Bring your best tiplock crack technique! Thin tip jams with marginal feet lead up a seam for 30 feet to the anchors of 'Black Crack.' Brute force won't get you up this one, you need to be able to make the best out of some pretty thin jams.


'The Gill Crack' lies just to the right of 'The Black Crack' on the South face of Castle Rock.


For TR, set up 2 'draws by climbing 'The Black Crack' just to the left. Plenty of nuts are necessary to lead this one....


William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
Consider yourself accomplished merely to get off the ground here... I TR'd this one after leading Black Crack and had a grand old time getting 8' off the ground. I wish I was as good as JG.... :_( Sep 26, 2003
Finger wrecker. Aug 16, 2004
Brute finger (tip) force - pain is guaranteed. Feet are pretty damn bad. If it was another foot or two I simply wouldn't have made it - as it was I'm not too sure I can say that I did anyway. . . . Oct 11, 2005
Jason Haas
G1 Climbing + Fitness
Jason Haas   G1 Climbing + Fitness
This is a great line and it is not the finger wrecker that everyone claims it to be. There is one painful fingerlock for the left hand, but overall, if you know how to jam, it is not any more painful than any other finger crack route. I bouldered this today, trying to live up to Gill's standards, downclimbing Black Crack after hitting the jug. I just couldn't bring myself to climbing it in boots and sans a pad. Even with technology, like sticky rubber on my shoes, Gill will always be better then me... Mar 5, 2006
I agree with Jason. As far as finger cracks go, this thing really isn't painful, even without tape. If you are not too accustomed to climbing fingercracks, you may feel some pain. I have particular respect for Gill for doing lines like this in the style he did. Jul 21, 2006
Tony Yao
Boulder, CO
Tony Yao   Boulder, CO
I suggest to use a pad to get off the deck before placing gear down low. You can get a good finger lock about 15 feet up, then place a bomber piece right at your chest. It will help you not fiddle with too much gear. I think I used a #0.4 Camalot there, and then yellow TCU after that. May 12, 2007
reboot   .
Definitely not a finger wrecker... I pinched my right pinky because I slotted my hand for a bomber jam, but my untaped fingers looked way better than my all-taped fingers on some S Platte crack.

There are many positive jams/locks on this route to place gear, but just remember that anything you place above your head will probably be a hold you'd want to use. Jun 11, 2007
Wyatt Payne
Littleton CO
Wyatt Payne   Littleton CO
Brute force sure doesn't hurt if you are not tall. I had to show up ready for a fight to make the redpoint. Watch how that yellow TCU gets placed, it is bomber in one orientation, and can rip in another, so pay attention to it if you don't have a great belayer. Great send, tape is your friend. Aug 14, 2007
David Cummings
Grand Junction, CO
David Cummings   Grand Junction, CO
Finally got this one on the lead placing the gear. Super fun, one of the best short routes I have done. Bring a pad, a yellow C3 for near the top of the crack. Once you get the jug you only need a #3 Camalot, maybe some small wires, the pin and a #1 Camalot, extend the last couple pieces. Don't bother putting in the gear low, it probly won't keep you off the ground anyway. Just fire the moves to the only stance and place the yellow C3 above you for the last few moves to Black Crack. Go do it. Great climb. Props to Gill! May 4, 2009
Luke Childers
Luke Childers  
This is the 1st line I tried when I arrived in Colorado back in 1998 or so and to say the least got kicked around, man, and I was or I thought I was a 5.12 climber at the time. One I got used to the rock I got this line on (TR) a few years later. I would not boulder it and a gear ripping fall would be worse than bouldering it I think. So it was the (TR) for me. It's a sweet heart of a line. All pain for me. Wait for fall or cooler temps to run this one!!! Great chunk of stone. Sep 3, 2009
Rich Farnham  
I ripped a cam in a fall off this yesterday. I had an orange Metolius TCU in the last finger lock before the final "jug". The pin scar nature of this placement (narrow, deep crack) didn't really let the cam orient properly, and I think it levered out as I fell onto it.

I was really pumped and trying to make the final move over to Black Crack when I fell. A bomber #7 BD stopper ~4 feet below the TCU kept me off the ground (barely). When I went back up, the same cam placed much better in the second-to-last finger lock (easy to place once you are past it). I'm glad to say I never tested this placement the way I tested the first, but it looked much better.

This is a really fun climb, and requires faith in some really shallow locks. Sep 6, 2009
George K. Watson
Nederland, CO
George K. Watson   Nederland, CO
Painful and hard as hell. The feet are on grease and the fingers scream. Hats off to JG. Jul 7, 2010
John Long
Venice, CA
John Long   Venice, CA
First time I went here (1976), Bachar solos the Gill Crack and downclimbs the Black Crack in like one minute. Shit, I think, that looks easy. It is, says Bachar, but it wasn't as easy as John made it look, not with my fat ass fingers. Lucky it's short. Still, I thought on-sighting the Acrobatic Overhanging was more perilous since it's harder (V4?) and has a far worse landing.

JL Aug 2, 2010
Adam Brink
on the road
Adam Brink   on the road
So cool to hear these stories, John. Keep them coming! Aug 2, 2010
I remember being up at Castle Rock alone one afternoon, it's the early eighties, I'm bouldering laps on The Gill Crack.

Alex Lowe shows up. "Damn, Bobby!" "You bouldering that thing?" he says.

Feeling good and a bit smug. "Yea" I say. It's not too bad as long as you get the top sequence of jams right. I give him the finishing right, left, right, jam sequence beta. This is so you end with right hand on the top hold and are able to reach out left with your left hand to Burnt Crack for the finish.

Alex steps up and proceeds to fire it. Comes down and says "Yea, you're right!"

"DAMN, Alex!"

Found memories of bouldering this, Final Exam, Acrobatic Overhang, etc. and then roping up and doing the Campaigner with Alex one day up at Castle Rock. Not only was he a great climber, he was a great guy, gracious, and great company.

Those were good days! Young and fit. Wish I could still boulder this thing now, and wish Alex was still with us. Aug 12, 2011
Peter Yakovchuk
Tempe, AZ
Peter Yakovchuk   Tempe, AZ
11c/d if you know the beta?... I have to admit I led this one after numerous times on TR and figuring out the best way to place gear. So, it is probably a 12a grade for onsight, or something. Placed a 0.75 BD at the beginning, yellow C3 in the middle, and green C3 just before pulling what seems like the crux. I have not yet tried it, but probably bouldering it might be significantly easier than leading and placing gear. But you need two mats and a good spotter for it. Sep 12, 2011
Boulder, Colorado
Dr. VARMENT   Boulder, Colorado
Wish it was longer!!! Sep 5, 2013
As a not-5.12 climber, I can say that this thing hurts. Lots of potential to kick your belayer in the face, as it is hard from the moment you leave the ground. Nov 9, 2013
Richard Border
Boulder, CO
Richard Border   Boulder, CO
Not particularly painful at all, easy to protect with offset Mastercams (as long as you avoid plugging your jams). Placed three pieces total (not including the finish on Black Crack), with the third after hitting the jug at the top. Burly and fun. May 9, 2016
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, ME
I remember bouldering this thing back in the mid-'80s. Got both hands and one foot off the ground. Felt about .10a. Aug 21, 2017
Boulder, CO
michalm   Boulder, CO
Excellent boulder problem. It is reassuring to stack two pads or bring one of those Organic big pads. It is much more fun than trying to lead a 20 ft route, and the landing is nice and flat. More of a V5/12- than an 11+. Jan 4, 2018
Nick D'Hulster
Nick D'Hulster   California
Super fun! I tried this badboy numerous times and decided it would be best just to boulder it and downclimb Black Crack. After getting it up to the top of the crack, I realized messing with gear while leading it is too strenuous, and I ripped out pieces already on it. If you are solid getting through it to the jug, just bring one grey DMM offset stopper to slide under you while you make the commiting moves into the Black Crack and a #4 Camalot to give you some real pro after firing the crux. The top was pumpy but not too bad after all those tenuous locks below. Jan 24, 2018