Type: Trad, Sport, 15 pitches
FA: Dingle & Lucero - 1981Direct was put up by Dingle & Swann in '02
Page Views: 18,929 total · 126/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 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


Crest Jewel is a fantastic high-elevation slab climb; perhaps the best in the country. Certainly the best I've done in Colorado or California. If you only ever do one long slab climb, this should be it.

The climb is fairly well-bolted (entirely with modern hardware and safe belays), but expect typical run outs on the easier terrain (5.8 and below). These generally feel less and less scary later in the route as you become accustomed to the style. The crux, if doing Crest Jewel Direct, comes early and is very well protected.

I'm not going to give a pitch-by-pitch description of the climb, but it would behoove parties who haven't done the climb before to have a photocopy of the topo with them -- if only to figure out which general direction to head off in when departing a belay -- often the next protection bolt is hard to spot and the climbing could conceivably go anywhere.

The original Crest Jewel accesses the wall from the left side at about one-third height, whereas Direct begins at a high-point at the base of the dome, also towards the left margin of the main face. Direct intersects that first pitch of the original route after five pitches of harder slab climbing. Most parties approach via Royal Arches which makes for a very full 30-pitch day.

The route gets sun all day long and can really cook up there, but the wind can also pick up making things quite unpleasant. Views of the Valley and Half Dome in particular are outstanding.


8 draws & something for the bolted anchors.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
You can also approach this climb from the Tioga Pass road. This cuts out all the elevation gain to the base, although there is more hiking and some nasty manzanita thrashing.

The original route was initially rated 10c/d, but this was ridiculous, it's only about 5.9. I'd recommend this alternative if you're not up for the direct start. Nov 25, 2006
We hiked in from Porcupine Creek trailhead on Tioga Pass Road, five fast, easy miles. Left some water under a tree and thrashed down the manzanita gully on the right (as you look down) side of the Dome. An hour and a half later, we found the start. I don't recommend doing it this way; the climb may be set up for double-rope rappels to avoid the epic bushwhacking.
The climb itself was fun, a Topo on steroids if you will (you Splatte rats know what I'm talking about). The friction characteristics of the orange polish took some getting used to. I agree, George: 5.9 with a few well-protected moves of 5.10- on pitch 6 (I think).
It was over 100 degrees that July day in the Valley; probably 80-ish up here. By the time we finished, we were both spitting cotton. The quart and a half of water we'd stashed wasn't nearly enough. Next time, I'd bring as much as I could reasonably carry. (There is a creek from which you could filter, but it's too close to the parking area to do much good. Stashing wins here.)
10 miles, 10 pitches...good day. Apr 5, 2007
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
I agree whole-heartedly that this is one of the great slab climbs. The rock, position and climbing are all top notch.
As for the approaches, I feel that the Royal Arches way is better and actually a bit easier. I know I felt kinda tired the one time we came in from Tuolumne.
For a real fun time , you also bivvy at the top North Dome after the climb and then get a cool Valley sunset/sunrise the next day. May 28, 2008
Old Skool Slabhead
  5.10a PG13
Old Skool Slabhead  
  5.10a PG13
Car to Car in 7.5 hours. Crux P8, stay on the White Granite dishes through the first four bolts and you'll be fine. No move was harder than .10a on this pitch and they were all very pos.

Fun route and must do. There is no "R" anywhere on this route. Well protected in my book. You want some real "R" Slab, go to Stone Mtn. NC. There you can taste some real "R" Slab lines.

Even better, for some local spice "R", "Hair Raiser Buttress" at Granite Basin, an hour and a half away on the Eastern Side, will definitely give you some "R" nerve racking momments on all three P's. Jun 17, 2008
Grand Rapids, MI
ttriche   Grand Rapids, MI
Crest Jewel is certainly not ''R''. CJD might have a spot of runout, but I distinctly remember the crux of Crest Jewel being bolted so tightly that you couldn't hurt yourself if you tried. 9+/10- seems about right, 5.9 would be a little bit of a sandbag (but not by much).

I did this with Thomas Keefer in (I think) June of 2004 and there was not a soul on either Royal Arches or Crest Jewel when we were on them. It was supposed to thunderstorm that day, but instead we just got pleasant breezes and beautiful views of Half Dome the whole time.

Walking down North Dome gully did not appeal to us so we rapped Royal Arches and got back to the base in time to hit the pizza deck for a pie and some beer. Next day we went and climbed one of the couloirs on North Peak, which ended with us outrunning the belated thunderstorm as lightning touched down all over Saddlebag Lake. Rather stark contrast. Moral of the story: bring a lightweight rain jacket with a hood on long routes like this, it might save your life.

Either CJ or CJD linked with Royal Arches makes for a lovely day out. Neither one is going to involve a 'running belay', which is the norm for 'R'-rated slabs such as the ones mentioned at Stone Mountain (or, for that matter, many slab pitches nearby in Tuolumne and the Needles). Simul-climbing Royal Arches to get to the base is probably a lot riskier than any move on Crest Jewel or CJD, for what it's worth. Jun 20, 2008
Kat A
Boulder, CO
Kat A   Boulder, CO
Amazing slab climb. On the easier terrain, the bolts are spaced far apart - one of the upper pitches has just one bolt - though the 5.9-5.10 terrain is well protected. As Josh mentioned, a topo is helpful but if you forget it the route generally trends right. If you come across any old manky bolts, you're off route, as all the bolts and anchors on this route are new. Jun 5, 2009
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
  5.10 R
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
  5.10 R
1000' feet and barely a hold to mention. This route is truely slab climbing most of the way and a pretty amazing experience even if you are not a fan of slabs. When you are done with it, you'll be a better climber for having done it.
The setting is stunning, particularly early in the season when the surrounding areas still hold snow. May 22, 2010
Phil Esra  
Definitely run out. Up to 30 feet between bolts on hard 5.8. (The 9th pitch is rated 5.8 and has 1 bolt in 100 feet of climbing, but it's easy compared to the other 5.8 pitches). Maybe if you're doing the direct start 5.8 is too easy to care about the pro on, but if 10a is pushing your limits, you're going to find some of the pitches quite run out.

In typical summer weather in early august we found the rock hot to the touch and pretty greasy. Aug 3, 2010
bud miller
SAR site, Camp4
bud miller   SAR site, Camp4
This climb should not be called R. The run out sections are incredibly easy and you will not find better bolted slab cruxes anywhere in California. You could almost french free the 10D section. That being said, its an awesome route, do it. Oct 6, 2012
PumpkinEater   Sacramento
I think adding an "R" to this route is totally fair. Okay, so all the crux moves are essentially well protected, and if you're a pretty good slab climber in the ~.10 range on granite than you have nothing to worry about and will love the climb. But, honestly folks, 1 bolt in > 100 ft of climbing even if it is ~5.7 is, well, run out. There are plenty of opportunities for someone, particularly with little slab experience, to get injured on this route. That being said, it's a great day on the rock. Nov 7, 2012
Claremont, CA
BrentNorum   Claremont, CA
Crest Jewel - mostly 5.7-5.8 face/slab climbing with a few spots of 5.9 and maybe a 5.10a move. Bring a good selection of runners (many singles, a few doubles/triples should do) will help avoid rope drag, and bring plenty of water if doing it in a hot month like Jun-Aug. The times I've done it, I've hiked the Porcupine Flat trail head on 120 and love that way. May 11, 2013
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
Karsten Duncan   Sacramento, CA
I found the first .10a section (pitch 2) to be harder than the upper .10a pitch. Maybe because your getting used to smearing on the orange polish but the lower pitch seemed like it had harder moves. The upper .10a pitch is more sustained with delicate moves through about 3 bolts.

I don't know whether I would call this route R or not. There are large runnouts but as stated on easier ground. The 9th pitch has one bolt and so technically you could take close to a >100ft cheesegrate if you blew it. That being said, if you can lead the or even follow the .10a pitches there is very little chance you would fall there.

Very classic route! May 14, 2013
Climbed Crest jewel approaching from Porcupine creek. A note on the approach, We steyed kind of high on the manzanitas and walked all the way the edge of the slabs to a crack and found a rapping station (webbing around a choketone). I agree that first 10a portion is harder (it felt more slippery) than the upper 10a portion. Short traverse sections were the mental cruxes for me. I must say that "Run out" means different things for different people. This route is definitely R in my book specially when a >100ft cheese-grate although unlikely, is possible. Indeed a classic calveathon. Kudos to those of you who link up with Royal Arches; you are in good shape. May 20, 2014
Mike Holley
Boone, NC
Mike Holley   Boone, NC
Rope Solo'd this route a week ago. Did the long,LONG approach from Camp four! That approach adds on some unnecessary miles but gives the whole experience an entirely different feel. Passing by Lost Arrow and the Falls was rad! Bivied at the top of North Dome and descended the next day (total bushwack shit show)!!

The Route itself is beautiful in every way, truly a gem of a slab climb. A sea for a slab happy climber! Perfectly protected and full value. I found some sections actually a bit slick due to traffic?! Its remote so i found nobody else up there for the two days I spent up on North Dome. BRings loads of suncream because its exposed all day long.

Rivals The Classic slabs of NOrth Carolina!! Beautiful!! Oct 15, 2014
Pavel Burov
Pavel Burov   Russia
Porcupine Creek Trailhead approach is fast and painless. As on Oct 30 2014 there was a good trail down in between bushes west to North Dome. It took 2 and half hours to approach the base of the route and 2 hours to hike back. A perfect day on a perfect rock.

Early season climbers do not have this option due to Tioga Pass winter closure. I linked up Royal Arches with Crest Jewel in May 2013 and it was much harder than hiking that perfect flat trail.

Do not forget to look around. Crest Jewel is that scenic so most likely you need a spare battery for your camera. Nov 4, 2014
Where's Walden
Where's Walden  
5.10d for the direct start, 5.9+ for the regular route. Not too runout on anything harder than 5.7. Direct start was a bit hard to find. I recommend heading to the Washington Column/ Norh dome saddle to head up towards the start, regardless of where you approach from. The climb starts left of north domes gigantic roof, just left of the very large right facing corner. There is a small roof which you pass on the right just below the highest treed ledge. Oct 26, 2015
King Tut
Citrus Heights
  5.10 R
King Tut   Citrus Heights
  5.10 R
"R" is a rating for protection availability, not for difficulty. 100' mandatory run outs on 5.7 is "R" and you don't want to ever fall, though (like any "R" rated route) if you are up for the grade it seems just a little spicey. This route is a Yosemite Classic and arguably the greatest moderate slab route in the world. Jul 21, 2016
Isaiah Foulks
Isaiah Foulks   Monterey
Wow what a day! RA to CJD is no joke!
Some beta: when approaching the direct start, it is farther left than you think. As others point out, it's left of the giant right facing book (which is left of the giant roof and arch).

Socks saved my butt on this one. Halfway through CJ my feet were so sweaty they were soaked and sliding around in my moccs. This meant very awkward foot placement but it also rubbed my toes raw. Slapped on some socks, and felt like I just gained super powers from the better fit, and it helped mitigate the funk.

Off route potential: pitch 3 of originional line: the second bolt is NOT AT THE END OF THE DIKE. It's only like 10 or 15 feet down the dike past the first. Don't do what did and run it out 150 ft and then have to reverse! Cool dike though...

Also, on pitch five (of original line), when you get to the last bolt, look straight up and only like 10 ft. The anchor is not on that giant, sexy looking dike way up high it on one that you can barely make out from where you are. I would also argue that it is directly above you, and not up and left as topo suggests. Resist the urge to go way left to find a way up to the siren dike only to find yourself about 25 ft left of and level with the anchor. And you do have to downclimb that part to correct.

Oh yeah, and check the weather forecast. Those mono winds blow hard! Hard enough to knock you completely over when your balancing on one foot pad and touching the wall with your fingertips. Feb 12, 2018
if you’re doing the royal arches/crest jewel link up, expect a tough hour to hour and a half hike from the top of royal arches up and pretty far right (google pictures of crest jewel topo) to the base of crest jewel, involving some bushwacking, routefinding, and 3rd class slabs Jun 8, 2018
Hobo Greg
My Van
  5.10a PG13
Hobo Greg   My Van
  5.10a PG13
By far the most engaging slab I’ve ever climbed. Never under 5.7, it’s smeary the entire way. Add the views and it instantly became my favorite climb in all of Yosemite. Approach from Tioga is very chill, bushwhack is not at all bad if you find some of the herd paths. Sep 14, 2018