Type: Trad, 5 pitches
FA: Frank Sacherer, 7/63.
Page Views: 37,797 total · 251/month
Shared By: Blitzo on Sep 13, 2006
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


About 100 feet left of "Crescent Arch" is a this beautiful crack that extends almost unbroken for 400 feet. The crux is about 20 feet off the ground, protected by a bolt. The route is obvious.

Follow cairns to the back of the dome where you can descend via two bolted rap anchors. Single 50 meter rope gets you to the ground. If you leave packs at the base of the climb, hang them from a tree as marmots frequent the area.


Stoppers and small to medium cams.
One of the most popular climbs in Tuolumne, for sure!
Last time I did it, we were the only party on it. A rare occation. Sep 13, 2006
Scotty Nelson
Scotty Nelson   Boulder
That's absurd. I wouldn't bring anything bigger than a #3 for this route. Jul 23, 2007
One of the few classic cracks in Tuolumne, bad thing is the approach and then to find 4 groups waiting. Sun hits it late in the day so a later start is ok. Careful on the walk off. Dec 5, 2007
So... Big cams?

I've seen guys with 2 #5's on this route! I've never brought anything over a #3 camalot. But, if you're not up for a little runout 5.6? (Very secure climbing) a big cam would give you some pro. May 14, 2008
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
The start of the second pitch is the burliest 5.8 move I've ever done! :-O Jul 6, 2009
Steve R.
Oakland, CA
Steve R.   Oakland, CA
Classic! cruiser 5.7 crack on P1 that just sucks up nuts. Solid roof moves that make you work. Used my #11 hex per SuperTopo suggestion.. Glad I brought my #4-used it to protect P2 during the offwidth/face stuff. Great views from the top! Jul 16, 2009
Sarah Kate
Seattle, WA
Sarah Kate   Seattle, WA
On the gear question: My partner dropped our #4.5 camalot while he was in the offwidth/chimney section of P2. He placed one #4 once and we both severely regret the size/weight of the rack that we brought.

I recommend: LOTS of nuts because, oh my gosh, the stunning granite takes it like nothing on earth. Fabulous passive pro. Bring doubles of camalots .5-2, a 3 and maybe a #4 if you like to be super-comfortable, but I wouldn't bother with big gear if I climbed it again. Jul 28, 2009
daniel c
San Francisco, CA
daniel c   San Francisco, CA
Agree with others - std rack to #3. If you're in a hurry, stretch P2 into the finger crack section (go ~30 feet above two bolt anchor to left and set hanging belay) and finish in two more pitches (four total, 60m rope). While waiting, have fun watching climbers take on the roof at the start of P2. The desperate worm/squeeze chimney maneuver through the slot of the roof is precious Sep 28, 2009
Chris M
Hailey, ID
Chris M   Hailey, ID
I dust off my #11 hex for this route. Ability will dictate whether it is worth bringing the #4 BD- note that the climbing is on the face next to the large crack- not in it unless you like shredded skin and clothes. Finger crack on p3 is incredible. Oct 17, 2009
A great route! One of the first routes I climbed in the Meadows and have been back to it several times with friends who want to get a feel for the areas moderate climbing. Sep 29, 2010
Dave Alden
Sacramento, CA
  5.8+ PG13
Dave Alden   Sacramento, CA
  5.8+ PG13
First 2 pitches make the route a must do in Tuolumne. Feb 28, 2011
North Kingstown, RI
Brian   North Kingstown, RI
Found the first pitch to be easy for the grade (5.9) and the second pitch hard for the grade (5.8). Love this climb. Nov 11, 2011
Weston L
Very fun climb. Heard all of the hype about the roof being 'burly' and whatnot...if you have decent footwork, it is very easy and straight forward. 5.7 move, with an adorable squirm to reach relative security. The 5.7 finger crack is incredible and the position of the face climbing next to the wide crack is absolutely spectacular. Hang out for a second there and take in your location because it is simply incredible. Jun 4, 2012
I dont recall having to use any squirm move on the roof. In fact, despite its intimidating appearance it goes quite easily. I was surprised b/c of all the hype. Everything about this route is fun, including the short free hanging rappel. F@#king rad! Jun 5, 2012
Completed West Crack on 6-16-12. I recommend climbing this route in the morning or the late afternoon. The midday sun hits hard on this wall and will make you sweat. The first two pitches are the hardest and the rest is cruising from there.
First pitch takes gear up to a BD #2. Doubles in the lower to midsize range are nice but the first pitch eats up nuts too (I placed three.)
Second pitch pulls over the crux roof protected by an angle piton and gains the wide crack. Stay out of the crack and climb the knobs to the belay. Those pushing their grade and not comfortable with 5.9 can walk a BD #5 and #6 up the entire second pitch until they have to traverse the 8 feet to the left to gain the bolted belay.
Third pitch is cruiser 5.6 knobby finger crack. A 70m rope allows you to set your natural anchor higher which in turn allows the next pitch to top out. Shorter ropes (i.e. 60m or less) will have to complete this section in three pitches.
Follow carins to the back of the dome where you can descend via two bolted rap anchors. Single 50m rope gets you to the ground. If you leave packs at the base of the climb, hang them from a tree as marmots frequent the area. Jun 18, 2012
Truckee, CA
Nick_Cov   Truckee, CA
Fun roof. Don't need big cams on the 5.6 section. If you want pro you can stick cams in deep. First 5.9 move isn't too bad. Can rap to ground from top bolts with 2 ropes easily. P3 finger crack is fun and secure. 5.9 move has good feet and is well protected. Jun 19, 2012
Phil Esra  
Ridiculously crowded, and attracts slow parties. Plan accordingly.

Blown Away includes the first 1.5 pitches of this climb--pretty much all the good stuff. Blown away adds a fun traverse and a great steep arete/corner. It's a much better climb. Same start, same crowds, unfortunately. Jul 23, 2012
Colin Schour
Big Bear Lake, CA
Colin Schour   Big Bear Lake, CA
So. Good. Can be chilly/windy in the morning... Sep 28, 2012
Angie C
Mount Vernon, Wa
Angie C   Mount Vernon, Wa
Loved the route. The roof is a little tricky for a follower if your belayer gives you a tight belay (you feel as though your being pulled off the climb a little).

The third pitch - the 5.8/5.7 finger/hand crack is incredible and makes the climb well worth it - even if there's a crowd/wait. If you enjoy crack climbing, you will love the third pitch.

If you skip the third pitch to do Blown Away, I feel sorry for you (unless you prefer traversing to crack climbing).

The descent was absolutely easy and pleasant. two, single-rope rappels, then an easy walk off the descent gully with well marked trail. You can find the bolted rappel station by the tree nearest to fairview dome. Jun 16, 2013
Sarah Wolfe
Eugene, OR
Sarah Wolfe   Eugene, OR
Can someone do a quick pitch by pitch difficulty rating for this? Would love a 4-pitch version and a 6-pitch version. Thanks! Jul 13, 2013
J. Albers
J. Albers   Colorado

West Crack is really best done in 5 pitches unless you want to either simul-climb or deal with terrible rope drag (doing it in more pitches is physically feasible, but is probably not a good idea because it will take more time and the route is uber popular, i.e. it would be inconsiderate to do it that way).

Pitch summary:
1) Face climb up, clip a bolt, and do a rising traverse to the right (crux) to gain the right trending crack. Follow this crack until a secondary, somewhat slick crux section (5.7) is reached right before a two bolt anchor.
2) Climb up and right off of the belay and surmount the thrutchy, but fun and well-protected roof to gain the wide crack above. Follow the wide crack upwards (though you will really just be face climbing on knobs outside the crack). If there is nobody around, you can step left to the bolted belay that is the first pitch belay for Blown Away (maybe 10-15 feet to the left of the crack system you are climbing...go to the second set of good bolts, not the first set of 1/4 bolts on the left!!!); otherwise continue upwards for a bit more until you reach a stance to the right of the crack (the crack should have narrowed down to take smaller finger to hand sized gear at this point). I sometimes use the Blown Away bolted anchor simply because the bolts allow you to expedite the belay changeover time, but don't do it if there are others wanting that belay (5.7/5.8 for the roof).
3) Pretty obvious here: climb the stunning and ridiculously fun 5.8 finger and hand crack upwards until you reach a nice pod to belay from. You will know you reached it because the crack you have been climbing ends and you will need to switch to another crack on your right to continue upwards.
4) Climb the right crack upwards over easy ground to a huge ledge system.
5) Climb straight up over easy ground with no pro (5.4 ish maybe) or traverse up and left on a 4th/easy 5th class ledge system to the summit. Either sling the huge boulder (perhaps sketchy?) or walk back a ways on the summit to find some cracks to build a belay. Jul 13, 2013
Jordan Collins
South Lake Tahoe
Jordan Collins   South Lake Tahoe
We did this pretty easily in 3 pitches. (With a 60M.) No cams bigger than a #3 . From bottom of route Pitches Include.
P1. Climb the quick crux face section 1 bolt. Climb up meandering cracks with awesome feet and no trivial moves super fun straight forward 5.8 pitch besides that move at the ground. Belay directly below the roof on two bolts. Or. Pull the roof and belay above. (may need an extra #3 for this option.) Their is a single bong right below the roof. And a piton in the roof if you choose to lead through this in the first pitch. 5.9
P2 Their is no reason to belay anywhere near the blown away anchors you can go a WAYS higher. (unless your trying to make an exta pitch outta the climb. Either pull the roof, or your already on top of the roof. Move up through a really mellow wide wide section, Protects well. You basically can climb the outside of the crack on this pitch on amazing 5.7 knobs and place pro in the crack. Then you can stretch the rope a little and make a belay right below the awesome finger crack. 5.8
P3 Climb the finger crack. Eats all the gear you want. Finger sizes up to #2 Once you get higher and a crack to the right appears high up we traversed the 5 feet or so into this crack and finished at a really nice little belay ledge/seat. Belay from here.

I cant quite see why you would not put the rope on your back right here its 4th class from here to the top. We went up and a little left to where you see a Tiny little tree in a crack. tree is maybe 2 feet tall and 20 feet from the summit.

Descent. We were headed back to do crescent arch next and were told their was a two rappel descent on bolts by a block and tree. (which was true) and was also kinda a fun second rap over a roof. however it took DAYS to get back to the base. Our recommended descent was on the Southeast nose of the wall, facing the road. Mellow 4th class slab descent takes you basically right down 500 feet to the right of crescent arch. Its a little exposed like tiny bit exposed at one point but saves easily 20 minutes from first said option.
This climb was Perty fun. Aug 6, 2014
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
The opening moves seemed "easy" for 5.9 face (and certainly from a "Yosemite" rating perspective, at least from my limited experience there), but the last move in the sequence is done in the "crater" zone. Personally, I thought the "squirm" through the last part of the roof a pretty awkward move.
If you like the face climbing next to the crack on P2, then you'll LOVE Fresno Dome (a bit south of the Park) climbs like "Whiskey Jack". No cracks, but same kind of flakes and knobs. Aug 26, 2014
Kesto Pesto
Oakland, CA
Kesto Pesto   Oakland, CA
Really enjoyed this climb. A great intro climb to the meadows. There was quite a wait, especially on a Saturday mid morning, but in that time we made some new friends and scoped out Crescent Arch for next time. I didn't use anything too small, or above a #3 and the small stuff gobbled up nuts. Have fun. Sep 1, 2014
Tried the slippery start several times yesterday, but could not find a safe way to get up to the bolt on the first pitch. I am unfamiliar with the American grading system, but the moves to even reach the bolt would get at least 5c+ in Europe (and an extra bolt). The exposure seems unnecessary to me, and would be reduced by an additional bolt below the current one. Oct 14, 2015
San Jose
B-Slim   San Jose
No need for big cams IMHO one #4 is enough.
Best way to go down is to rap as mention in Supertopo.
With a 70m rope you can do one rappel from the anchor near to the big tree mention in supertopo. Sep 6, 2016
there is a fine offset cam placement in a pin scar near the top of the first pitch that makes bailing high to obvious jugs up and left very comfortable. i would include also that this pitch is longish and needs at minimum a dozen slings/draws. enjoy Sep 9, 2016
David Stephenson
Mount Wellington, Tasmania
David Stephenson   Mount Wellington, Tasmania
We did this in 3 pitches with a 70m rope with no rope drag problems, after my partner who was dosed up on cold medication missed the pitch 2 traverse left onto Blown Away, which we had planned to climb. Great route anyway - the pitch 1 crux at the start is polished and a bit slippery rather than technical, though I was glad to clip the bolt! The rest of the climb is very straightforward - the bulging slot at the beginning of pitch 2 is a little awkward to start but the off width section that follows is easily face climbed on the knobby outside - you don't need anything bigger than a #3 cam. The rest of the climb is easily protected by nuts or cams up to 2". Thoroughly enjoyable and deserving of its classic status. Jul 10, 2017
Ed Henicle
Santa Rosa, CA
Ed Henicle   Santa Rosa, CA
From the large block rap station, it's one rap to the ground with a 70M Aug 7, 2017
Kevin Clark 1
Kevin Clark 1   Oakland
My partner and I had a blast on this classic. I enjoyed getting off the ground only to find a small crux move, which is a short move left to place a draw in an anchor. From their, it's rainbows up a crack to the end of P1 (which, in our case, was before mantelling the roof.)

P2 started with a great climb through a sloppy roof crack system. Not exactly sure if that makes sense, but reagrdless it's sloppy and fun. From their, it's a beautiful off width line, that can either be climbed inside or outside (as the outside provides nobs.) Eventually, this offwidth turns to pleasureful finger jamming. We ended up passing Supertopo beta and belaying high on the Finger cak (Right before the finger crack turns into two cracks.)

P3. A chill relaxed 5.5 knob festival over a sloping section to climber's right of the 4th class walk off. Great time. I belayed off erratic boulder! Aug 29, 2017
Matt N
Santa Barbara, CA
Matt N   Santa Barbara, CA
Light(er) rack: singles #1-3, doubles below that. I'm not that strong or bold a climber and think this rack works great for West Crack and Blown Away. Sep 16, 2017
Did this route decades ago with no beta. Just happened to have my #11 hex along and wow, what an obvious placement. This route is one of my all-time favorite climbing memories. I need to get my son to "guide" me on this, as I've never been back to repeat it. Oct 31, 2017
Nate L  
While regular Tuolumne climbers may not feel this way, I felt that this route was a total sandbag. The 1st pitch was hard but seemed easier than the other pitches. Anyone comfortable on 5.9 or 10a face should have no trouble on the first pitch. The roof at the start of the 2nd pitch was quite difficult- my partner, who leads .10 trad, backed off and I lead it, because the move is quite bouldery and powerful. The OW section ate all 3 #3s I had quickly and some #4s would've been nice to really sow it up, although I did find smaller placements. The third pitch finger crack was very fun, but may not feel 5.7 to anyone who isn't comfortable with pure crack climbing and technique. We belayed almost to the top of the formation on pitch 3 and finished the route with a quick 4th pitch. There is a huge boulder on top with cairns leading away from it to a tree on the backside with rap anchors- we spent too long looking before realizing that. Overall, the route is very fun but seemed quite sandbagged and not a good lead for a 5.9 trad leader. Jul 19, 2018
Vincent Gallegos  
This is one of my all time favorite 5.9's. It can be lead on all nuts with some easy runout sections, but most folks will appreciate 2 #3's. The second pitch roof is trivial if you use the jug on the left, like cut feet for fun trivial. The beta is to take the second pitch to where it turns to fingers and belay from there, with a 70m you can hit the big ledge for a ~68m third pitch of pure glory. This leaves you with an unprotected scramble to the top where you trend right for the rap. Anybody have some useful beta for the down climb in case a person wants to solo this thing? It looks really slick and cryptic from the ground... Aug 25, 2018
Nathan Stegenga
Spokane, WA
Nathan Stegenga   Spokane, WA
With a 70m, this can be done in basically 2.5 pitches.
P1 - over the roof and go left to belay at the bolted anchors (start of blown away var)
P2 - climb your little heart out up cracks and knobs for about 68 meters and reach a little stance. You'll almost feel like you topped it out.
P3- 4th class up a ramp and cool little potholes to the big ledge below the 4th class crack that most people solo to the top.

Had Daff all to ourselves on a brisk October day! Oct 18, 2018