Type: Trad, 50 ft
FA: Scott Cole, Bruce Morris
Page Views: 4,441 total · 41/month
Shared By: Tyler Williams on Feb 11, 2010
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


A novelty route mostly, traverse along a flaring crack about 4ft above the "black lagoon" for maybe 50 ft, and then head up a 40ft 5.9 hand crack. I've tried traversing with feet in the crack and doing the tipsy shuffle, or traversing with hands in the crack. It felt very different but about the same difficulty either way.

See the awesome updated (4th ed.) Reid/Falkenstein guide for more info.


The wall above the lagoon seen immediately upon entering Olmstead canyon.


A fall at the crux will almost certainly result in falling in the lake, so I would suggest either toproping from above with a moving belay, or soloing, since the crux is only 4 ft. above the lake. A fall into the lake would be embarrassing though, and you would hit the bottom as it is less than 6ft deep.
c scott
c scott  
This climb would be a sweet solo/bouldering problem. The water is shallow, but not too shallow. Also I don't remember any mean looking rocks lurking about. I can't wait to come back on a warm day and give it another go, sans rope! Feb 16, 2010
This "climb" is, in fact, a boulder problem. That's how it was established and how it's traditionally been climbed, unless I'm mistaken.

10c belies the touch and go nature of the traverse. I went high, with feet in the flared crack, and there are some real tenuous bits for the grade. I know of a few solid climbers who have taken the plunge... Oct 15, 2011
Brad G  
My shoes are now dry and my chalk bag is getting there. Jun 10, 2013
Kaleem Khwaja
Emeryville, California
  5.10 PG13
Kaleem Khwaja   Emeryville, California
  5.10 PG13
Traversing with feet in the crack felt legit 5.10, but the lower hand-in-crack variation was WAY more difficult - maybe 11c?. I personally couldn't keep my feet out of the lagoon while staying low enough to keep from greasing out of the sloper horizontal crack.

We tested the bottom of the lagoon under the finish and it was soft, silty and almost 6 feet deep. The hand crack finish felt only about 5.8 and should be uneventful for anyone who can get to it. A great end to a weekend in the Meadows! Jul 28, 2014
Bruce Morris
Soulsbyville, CA
Bruce Morris   Soulsbyville, CA
No, "Creature from the Black Lagoon" was established as a lead climb, following the low finger tip (instead of the foot) traverse way. Scott Cole soloed it a few minutes after leading it. Cf. Picture attachment. Today, I'd say it's mostly done as a TR although there's a great picture of Charlie Barrett doing it as a boulder problem in the new fall 2014 issue of California Climber. Sep 24, 2014
Benjamin Chapman
Small Town, USA
Benjamin Chapman   Small Town, USA
Thank you for the clarification and historical perspective, Bruce. Sep 11, 2015
This thing is the epitome of classic. Don't really care how this was originally done or its usually done; this is an awesome boulder problem! A must do. Only the first couple feet would be a dangerous fall and that part is really pretty easy. As said by others, once you get to the hand crack it's over assuming you have any competency in hand jamming. Get a group of friends together and see who takes the plunge first! Water was 6 feet deep with 1 foot of soft silty bottom at the base of the hand crack. Aug 22, 2016
Doing this climb as a TR would be an absolute travesty. So many better things to TR than to come to this CLASSIC shallow water solo/boulder problem and to defile it with a TR. What makes it amazing is the chance to take a little plunge!

The tradition I was shown is to go there with a group of friends and everyone goes into isolation (looks away) while each person tries. Once you fall in or send you can watch but everyone else has to go for the PURE onsight. Friends who don't want to try can sit on the other side of the lagoon for a perfect viewing. Makes for a hilarious time. Sep 5, 2017