Type: Trad, Aid, Alpine, 500 ft, 4 pitches, Grade III
FA: Paul Ross, John Bragg and Mike Peloquin, 1971
Page Views: 31,142 total · 210/month
Shared By: Jay Knower on Nov 20, 2006
Admins: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey LeCours, Jonathan Steitzer, Robert Hall

You & This Route

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Vertigo is a classic (mostly) free route that offers sustained and varied climbing. A lead of the fearsome Half Moon Crack is a feather in a trad climber's cap.

Locate the undeniable splitter of Reppy's Crack and head to the right past a death gully. The next section of solid rock to the right holds Union Jack and Vertigo. Vertigo starts in the center of the low angled pane of granite at a wide crack.

Pitch 1, 5.6: Head up the wide crack to easier climbing. Belay on a comfortable ledge.

Pitch 2, 5.9 AO: A long 50 meter pitch. Climb up the slab to a roof. Skirt the roof on the right and climb up a beautiful cleaved flake to a mass of slings attached to a new bolt. Clip the bolt, lower down about 15 feet and pendulum or tension traverse right to a stance below a large left facing corner.

If you are using double ropes, it is useful to lead the first part of the pitch, including the pendulum, on one of the ropes and then use the other rope after swinging into the corner. This way, you will have little drag and your second will have an easier time cleaning the pendulum. It is still a good idea, however, to climb as high as possible in the corner before putting a piece in.

Once established in the corner, follow the amazing fingercrack in the left wall. The technical crux of the route is found here. This part reminds me of Serenity Crack in Yosemite- thin technical jams in lower angled rock. Finally, belay off two bolts at an awkward stance.

The pendulum section of this pitch was freed a few years ago by Tim Kemple at 5.12.

Pitch 3, 5.9: Make commiting moves right off the belay and then make a big span move to a crack out right. Follow this crack as it widens and goes through a bulge. Belay at a stance at the base of the unmistakable wide crack. This is a short pitch and can be combined with the next pitch.

Pitch 4, 5.9R: The Half Moon Crack. Routefinding is not an issue on this pitch: simply climb the wide crack. Pro can be placed at the start of the crack, but after that, there is no pro for the rest of the pitch since the crack is just too wide for gear. All goes swimmingly until the final few moves when the crack trends rightward and the angle steepens.

Do not underestimate this pitch. I did and scared myself silly at the top when I found myself desperately thrutching up the crack all the while contemplating a 60 foot fall onto the slab below. It's really a memorable lead.

Most climbers rap from the bolts atop The Half Moon Crack. Three double rope raps will get you down.


Standard rack. A #5 Camalot will not fit in The Half Moon Crack. It's just too wide. I have heard that a Big Bro might fit, but I'm not entirely sure about that. The crack is about 18 inches wide.

Two ropes for rappelling. As always at Cannon, don't forget your helmet.
buckeeb Hart  
FYI- A blue big bro will work at two or three points on the OW pitch...barely. Unless you bring a few be prepared to be sketched out anyway. It is possible to lieback the entire way but doing so on lead would be a 10 on the Sphincter Pucker Factor Scale(SPF). This scale is used in climbing and many prisons around the world. Dec 6, 2006
New Haven, CT
GabeO   New Haven, CT
Superb. And don't be intimidated by the offwidth. If you've got any offwidth skills, it's a cruiser. I've only done a little climbing in Yosemite, but I think it'd be rated a 5.7 Yosemite OW. Jul 21, 2007
The second time I climbed this, I got in a #4 big bro halfway up the half moon, barely. #3 might fit better in many places. The placement felt sketchy - bumpy granite made it easy to twist and move around. I haven't tried, but I think a #6 camalot would fit in a lot of places. Might be a pain to pass though.

After the pendulum, I don't place pro. Make easy moves up to the fingercrack and make a good anchor; this allows the 2nd to just unclip and swing when following the pendulum.

This is one of my favorite climbs, anywhere. Jul 27, 2007
Leave the #6 camalot in the car - it's about .5" too small. Couldn't do a thing with it.

The big bros work just fine though. With a little patience you can find a bomber placement.

The whole thing is really pretty easy - I laybacked the entire thing and the only tough part was parking myself in the middle to place the big bro and switch sides on the layback. Probably about 5.7 in Yosemite.

And on P2, it's just what the previous poster said. Easy climbing after the traverse - don't place pro until you're above it and your second will be fine. I can't imagine doing this with a swing - I tried it that way and it was a total waste of time. It's a tension traverse all the way. You can belay just above the traverse without too much fuss. The section above is one of the best pitches anywhere. Jul 30, 2007
i climbed from the ground, past the pendulum, to a decent stance in the corner far enough above the pendulum that my partner had a rope above him- all in one pitch that links comfortably with 60m doubles. (if you have double ropes, you can start putting pro in immediately after the tension traverse. just climb on one rope until the pendulum. you can be perfectly safe, and so can your partner). then another pitch that goes up to the not-so-awesome chains in the corner, steps right, and continues up to the base of the half moon in another frinedly link. I bet with 60s you could make it pretty close, if not all the way, to the rap anchors above the half moon from that belay.

i didnt find the #6 WC friend useful on the half moon crack, although i was happy to have another big cam to leave at the base to back up the manky bottomed-out pins (and one good small nut) that made up the anchor. (a #5 C4 camalot or larger would do fine here).

i thought the crux was definitely the fingery sections (which take small stuff. green aliens. tips jams). i was gripped starting up the half moon waiting for the epic, but it turned out to be quite reasonable. i could get gear in the back for the first half (.75, #1) and the upper section wasnt bad either. just more of the same. and then there are jugs at the top. and its only around 25 feet. on a slab. i agree with other posters that it would not be 5.9 in an area which has wide cracks and chimneys.

bring some gear up there with you.. its 25' of climbing from the top of the OW to the anchor.

we rapped from the anchor above the half moon to the chains in the left-facing corner (one rusted bolt with metolius hanger, one Al caving hanger, both have chains.. candidates for ASCA?). then from there to the ground on 60m ropes with a few feet of rope on the ground.

great route. splitter. definitely good with double ropes. Sep 6, 2007
Check out the Climbing Mag Article Sep 17, 2007
andrew kulmatiski
logan, ut
andrew kulmatiski   logan, ut
Wow, bolts on the pendi? Someone decided to really change the character of the route.

There is a fantastic 9+/10- finger to hand crack about 30' left of the half moon crack that is fully worth doing (if you've already done the 1/2 moon). It has bomber finger locks in a bulging crack that splits a clean face three pitches up - awesome. Sep 17, 2007
bayard russell jr
Madison, NH
bayard russell jr   Madison, NH
Its worth pointing out that the pendulum has been freed climbed a few times. It goes at about 12b, the crux section is really pretty short, but its fierce smearing. Tim Kemple did it in the early 2000's, I've heard vaugue reports of others doin it prior, my buddy Maddog even onsighted it one day. Its good climbing.

If you want a continuous challenge, at the bolt anchor at the top of the corner above the pendulum, don't traverse around the arete to get to the "Half Moon Crack", but stay in the corner. It becomes the third pitch of the Manhedral. It has some great climbing, I remember calling it 5.11c at the tiime, but maybe its 11d. That brings you right to the "Quarter Moon Crack" on Clausterphobia. May 14, 2009
Dmitriy Litvak
Pacifica, CA
Dmitriy Litvak   Pacifica, CA
Offwidth is too soft for Cannon ratings ... May 27, 2009
For all those who want to protect 1/2 moon crack. Check Valley Giant Cam - it is made in 9inch and 12inch version. Aug 19, 2009
David Aguasca!
New York
David Aguasca!   New York
I got stumped by the thin crack in the left facing corner, had to pull on a piece to get through.

The Half Moon is stellar! Moderate OW climbing on PERFECT granite, 300 feet up on an alpine wall. It protects pretty well with a #3 Bro. I placed mine about halfway up, where it starts arching back right. Nov 14, 2009
Nick W
Orford, NH
Nick W   Orford, NH
(Note: as of 5/14/2010 the rap anchors at the top of the 3rd pitch curved finger crack are in need of some work. One bolt looks decent, the other just has a very loose bolt w/out hanger. I moved a screw link from the old rusted out 1/8 inch bolt and attempted to equalize the loose bolt w/ it and a nut. Definitely not ideal.)

This climb is very good! Every pitch is unique and of high quality. We linked pitches 1 and 2 and pitches 3 and 4,which is easy with double ropes - this allows you to do the whole climb in 3 pitches. The last pitch Crescent Moon variation is really nice, even though it is technically the last pitch of Claustrophobia. It involves a well protected thin slab traverse to an amazing finger to hand crack -- it is beautiful up there! Yes, squeeze chimneys are fun to watch your friends suffer on, but doing the Crescent Moon pitch completes the climb with sustained, beautiful, and enjoyable climbing on all pitches in my opinion. May 14, 2010
E thatcher
Plymouth/ North Conway (NH)
E thatcher   Plymouth/ North Conway (NH)
I'm kind of surprised nothing has been said here of the pitches leading to the summit. They are typical of the cannon rockaneering upper pitches, but it's always fun to top out on this cliff, at least I think so.
Any ways, from the anchor after the half moon, traverse out the block and climb through the notch to the right of the belay. This is surprisingly easy, the book suggest 5.6. Including this pitch we sumitted with an additional 3 pitches. The final pitch that we found offered up some really fun and varied climbing. Jun 19, 2010
Linnaeus   ID
The anchors at the top of the 3rd pitch are currently terrible (Oct 2011). Rapped off them this weekend and it was very sketch. Would recommend leaving a piece of your own pro behind. Given the popularity of this route, I'm surprised it hasn't been rebolted. Oct 11, 2011
Silas Miller
Conway, NH
Silas Miller   Conway, NH
Just climbed this rout and it was awesome! (07/20/12) We used the beta from Mountain Project and I though I could clarify some details that would have made the assent a little easier:
1. You only need ONE 70m rope to rap. There are rap anchors next to the first pitch, middle and top of second pitch and middle of third pitch. It was windy and our ropes got a little snagged a couple of times.
2. The whole rout is easily climbed in THREE pitches. and it's more like two.
P1: climb 5.6 for 60ft to a ledge.
P2:Up to the traverse, into the corner and climb all the way through AMAZING finger crack to the questionable anchors in the corner on a poor ledge. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE PUT A HANGER ON THIS BOLT? I will next time.
P3: Climb the Half Moon crack all the way to the top with one or two .75 Camalots in the back of the OW section.
Super fun climb with a rewarding finish. Jul 21, 2012
Mike Robinson
Grand Junction, CO
  5.9 A0
Mike Robinson   Grand Junction, CO
  5.9 A0
Silis has it right!
The OW is 5.6 and there is plenty of gear Jul 23, 2012
Both rap anchors (at the top of the crux finger crack, and above the OW) are still crap. Bad or loose bolts. I'll chip in towards replacement, but I don't know how to place bolts. Aug 3, 2013
Matt Conroy
  5.9 A0 R
Matt Conroy  
  5.9 A0 R
Just to kick a dead horse, here are my thoughts on the OW section. Yes it takes good gear up to about half way if you have .75 Camelots or yellow and red Link Cams. That said I felt that once I stopped messing with gear the climbing became quite easy all the way to the nonexistent hard pull out of the crack. Definitely 5.6 PG13... for me at 6' 165 lbs. My partner, however, who is taller and and burlier couldn't even reach the gear I'd so easily placed. He found his position in the crack to be tenuous at best and took more than one fall on his way to the top. Definitely 5.9 R for him. Thus the real question is not one of Big Bros being the right size but of the leader being the right size.

We also rapped down to the anchor at the top of pitch 3 of Union Jack which is far nicer than the lower Vertigo anchors. Aug 25, 2013
Any news on the bolts on the anchor above pitch #3 (2 if you go all the way from the pendi)? Heading out there next week and it's on the list Jun 12, 2014
We climbed Vertigo last weekend. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pitches were amazing! The mountain project beta is all accurate. Finger sized cams protect the crux, the half moon pitch isn't too bad (but it is R without a Valley Giant or Big Bro), and most of the belay anchors (old pitons etc...) need to be replaced. The rock quality on the first 5 pitches is superb.

If you do decide to top out the climb you can expect much lower rock quality and general shrubbery. 4 pitches from the top of the OW. We made the mistake of heading straight up (or even a bit left) from the top of the OW. Should have trended farther right. It looked as if there were better rock over there and the cliff is a bit lower so maybe you can top out a pitch early.

Next time we'll rappel from the top of the OW.... Jul 22, 2014
Beth McLendon
Gunks, NY
Beth McLendon   Gunks, NY
We're thinking of climbing Vertigo later this week if the weather cooperates. If so does anyone know what we could/should bring to improve the rap anchors short of replacing bolts? Aug 3, 2014
This route is fantastic, the best route I've climbed on Cannon for sure. However, I would not recommend taking on the half moon crack unless you are solid on 5.9 OW. Definitely don't expect 5.6 or 5.7 climbing like some comments on here may suggest. As suggested here you can get good 0.75 and #1 camalots in the back of the crack for the first bit. After that be prepared to run it out.

And re: the rappels, you can do 2 raps with 2 60m ropes, rap from decent bolts at the top of the half moon crack to another decent 3 (maybe 4?) bolt rappel station below and climbers right of the crux corner. Aug 13, 2014
Eugene Kwan 1
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Eugene Kwan 1   Cambridge, Massachusetts
Rack: Double to BD #2. A #3 and #4 could be useful, but aren't essential.

P1/P2: can be linked, but watch for rope drag. The bolt on the pendulum is full of tat, but seems fine. You can back this up with a red camalot in the crack to the left. P3: The step around the corner is weird. You can clip some fixed nuts before doing the move. Look for some slopers around the corner.

Half Moon: There is a pin at the base, as well as some cams in the back of the crack. You can get a blue Big Bro in halfway up. I think the offwidth is adequately protected this way. Laying back the offwidth didn't seem too bad to me. There is a 0.5 camalot placement at the top of the offwidth.

Quarter Moon Variation: At the base of the half moon, you can go left. There is a hard slab move to the arete that is protected by a gold or blue camalot. Follow a very nice 5.10- crack to the top.

Rappels: As mentioned, it's actually two double rope rappels from the bolt anchors on top of the Half Moon. Rappel to the two bolt station on top of P2 and from there to the ground. Watch out, the rings on this station are sort of far apart and can twist the rope. This could probably use a chain. It is possible to get down in four rappels with a 60 m rope, but you have to use some old bolted stations. Jun 6, 2016
Nick W
Orford, NH
Nick W   Orford, NH
Just got on this again after several years away. Someone finally replaced the bolts at the top of the arching finger crack pitch - thanks! The two bolts at the top of the halfmoon pitch might need to be replaced as well - they are looking pretty rusty, despite shiny hangers. The linking of pitch 2 and 3 in the route description seems odd to me, and I want to reiterate that linking 1 and 2 followed by 3 and 4 seems to make the most sense if you have doubles. And definitely do the crescent moon variation - its gotta be one of the best splitters around and my favorite of all the pitches of this link-up.

Also, since I was there last, I think there's been massive rockfall from the dirty gully to the left that's now covering the base of this climb. Makes the base more pleasant now, but a little disconcerting considering that I'd hung out at that spot tons of times prior. But I guess that's Cannon. Aug 21, 2016
Owen Silitch
New Hampshire
Owen Silitch   New Hampshire
Favorite route on Cannon so far!

Edited... just did the VMC Direct Direct and that was flipping insane but this one is pretty darn good too Oct 23, 2017
Brent D
Brent D  
Having just given this a shot, can confirm a blue big bro fits well halfway up the half moon. We also brought a #6 just to see, and I got a placement about 4/5 of the way up with it. It was very close to tipped out, but I'm pretty confident it still would have held a slow-motion ow fall. There's really only one specific spot it will fit, though. Aug 12, 2018