Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Damnation Crack

5.9+, Trad, 80 ft,  Avg: 3.2 from 90 votes
FA: FA John Rupley 1957 FFA TM Herbert, Ed Cooper 1960
Washington > Central-E Casca… > Tumwater Canyon > Castle Rock > Upper Castle


A great climb up a widening crack. Begin with a hand size crack that widens to offwidth and then to chimney. The crux comes in the first 30ft but runnouts in the chimney keep things interesting. Top out on Jello tower.


Climb up a trail on the west side of the parking lot that leads up to upper castle rock and logger's ledge. The route goes up the wide crack/chimney that separates the main wall from Jello Tower on its west side.


Cams to #4 camalot but don't forget the small gear for placements in the chimney.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Nick pulling through a cruxy layback section. Credit:
[Hide Photo] Nick pulling through a cruxy layback section. Credit:
[Hide Photo] Damnation
More of the initial crack of Damnation.  Photo Jake Evans.
[Hide Photo] More of the initial crack of Damnation. Photo Jake Evans.
Gorgeous crack.
[Hide Photo] Gorgeous crack.
Jason Schilling on the upper chimney.
[Hide Photo] Jason Schilling on the upper chimney.
Looking down Damnation Crack from the anchor at the top of the route.
[Hide Photo] Looking down Damnation Crack from the anchor at the top of the route.
Final squeeze moves near the top of Damnation.<br>
Jake Evans Photo
[Hide Photo] Final squeeze moves near the top of Damnation. Jake Evans Photo
Phase 1 of Damnation Crack.  Pumpy and slick laybacking, stemming and jamming.  Incredible climbing and heady!  <br>
Jake Evans Photo
[Hide Photo] Phase 1 of Damnation Crack. Pumpy and slick laybacking, stemming and jamming. Incredible climbing and heady! Jake Evans Photo

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] A great climb! Sep 13, 2006
Olympia, WA
[Hide Comment] Closer to a 100' to the chains atop Jello Tower but you can rap from them down the other side with a 50m rope. Jun 30, 2008
[Hide Comment] The "correct" finish is actually to the anchor on the face to the left of the top of Jello Tower. Great climb! Jun 25, 2010
Tacoma, WA
[Hide Comment] What makes this the "correct" finish? Per Beckey's 1965 Guide to Leavenworth Rock Climbing Areas: "...climb 6 feet until the crux is passed (5.7-5.8). Another 10 feet reaches the top of the tower."

Not that it matters a flip where you choose to end up, but the anchor to the left was established for Dan's Dreadful Direct. Again per Beckey (1965): "About 100 feet up, just above and to the left of Jello Tower, a hanging belay was established from one of the bolts." Jun 26, 2010
[Hide Comment] What a great climb, been waiting to do this climb and have now done it. Took a number 5 up with me and it was a huge waste. Jun 30, 2010
Daniel Coltrane
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Definetly an "Old School" 5.9. Classic through the chimney section. Jul 6, 2011
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Very fun route! Old school climbing for sure but lots more pro besides just protecting the big crack. Not that either way is "right" but I belayed on the left side wall at 100'. This works great as you are on ring bolts, it's right at 100' and you can watch your partner climb the whole pitch. Continue to the top or rap with a 60m and have the TR set up for a quick lap on the 20 foot 5.10 finger crack. Jul 23, 2012
geoff georges
Seattle, Wa.
[Hide Comment] When the 1st free ascent was done in 1960, Ed Cooper considered this route 5.8. Like it's neighbor Angel it is harder now that it is slippery at the start.
The lower wide section protects well with a BD #4. After sliding that up with me, I get a #1 on the left wall and take the #4 for up higher. It is tricky to protect the chimney, can be done with small cams and brass nuts.
The first ascent team used wood blocks to protect the wide parts and placed 1 bolt, which I have never spotted the remains of, unless it is the 1/4" bolt near the top out.
I think it would be fair to say this would be 5.8 in Ca. or Colorado.
This one gets my vote for one of the best 5.9's in Wa. or anywhere really. Nov 20, 2013
Steph Abegg
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] This is probably my favorite route at Castle. The crack and chimney movements are akin to routes I've done in the Sierra. Apr 24, 2016
S. Yi
Bellevue, WA
[Hide Comment] Old school rating. First 10 ft. are tough - rock is slippery and requires some strenuous lay-backing. A #5 could come in handy if you don't like runouts. The chimney section is a little intimidating since the next opportunity for pro is about 10 ft up, but the moves in the chimney are secure. May 23, 2016
Wenatchee, WA
[Hide Comment] Solid 5.10. Feels serious. I've seen climbers ground out on the opening slick liebacking. Hard to stop to place gear mid layback, since the rock is that special kind of castle Rock glass. Aug 22, 2016
David Bruneau
St. John
  5.9 PG13
[Hide Comment] The climbing is 5.9, but bold thru the chimney section. Bring small pro (RP's, ballnuts) for up higher in the chimney or expect some excitement... I found my self run-out facing outwards with a decent placement a foot out of reach. Sep 15, 2016
[Hide Comment] Plotz nailed it. Mar 10, 2017
Benjamin Pontecorvo
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] I am no hardman, the pro appears in side cracks just before you NEED it every time. Agree with Steph this climb is DOPE May 6, 2018
[Hide Comment] Just for laffs, imagine climbing this without sticky shoes and without camming devices, as we did in the not-so-olden days. were trying to look around into the crack to place a large hex or tube chock or Forrest Mountaineering Titon (you can find those last two items on the intrawebs) while laybacking up that first section with slippery shoes. Sporting! Mar 11, 2019