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American Crack 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 60'
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: B. Molzon, D. Shori, 1977
Season: gets sun by day
Page Views: 2,988
Submitted By: Tony B on Nov 22, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (125)
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BETA PHOTO: Most of the route. American Crack. Starts small th...


The crux is getting off the ground, and I feel that has never been accounted for in the traditional grade of 5.4. The climb is probably more like 5.6. I have photos of trad newbies getting boosts (standing in cupped hands, on knees and backs, etc...) to get started on it!
Once you do, it is good rock, good gear and good moves up the crack system for 60' to a ledge.

This was my college girlfriend's first ever trad lead. An older pal followed her on it, cleaning. Casey asked time and time again:
"How was my (such and such a piece)?"
Bruce would answer:
"Pretty good" or "You could have placed a bigger hex."

Just before the bulge up top he was hard for her to hear:
"How was that last hex"
"You could hang a cow on it"
"You could hang a cow on it"
"I can't hear you."
"You could hang a cow on it"
"Tony, what did he say."
"He said it would hold you."
The crowd below burst out in laughter.
"Oh. What is so funny?"

I was later in pretty big trouble...


This climb is just right of center in the main amphitheatre of Fortress Wall. It is identified by two features, it's proximity and shared start with American Wall, a pattern of darker flakes, resembling a map of North America just out of reach of the ground, and the wide crack and left-facing corner to it's right.


A rack from wide fingers to fist sized. The top has been bolted to make belaying and lowering off easy, and possibly to save a few trees.

Photos of American Crack Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: A friend cruising up on a hot summer day. The star...
A friend cruising up on a hot summer day. The star...

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By James Schroeder
From: Sauk County, WI
Dec 2, 2006
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

It was more than a year ago, but I don't recall the 5.6 to get off the ground. I could be wrong though.
By Jim Matt
From: Indianapolis, IN
Dec 6, 2006

I would agree with Tony, it is one or two 5.6 moves to get off of the ground, then 5.4 with good gear all the way to the top. I remember doing this as one of my very first climbs...the start baffled me at the time.
By saxfiend
From: Decatur, GA
Oct 27, 2008
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

This is a surprisingly nice route with a dicey start and an exciting finish. Extra #3 Camalots are a good thing to have on your rack.
By ziggy
Jan 18, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

I thought this thing was dirty, and the rock quality left something to be desired. Probably a 5.5 considering the other routes at this crag.
By Scott Heinz
Jun 6, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Must agree with Ziggy, The top 10' was dirty, hard to protect and loose. And the bolted anchors at the top are on a very large down slopping boulder???
By Casey the "Renaissance Man"
Jul 11, 2012

I have ran up this little route a few times. The key to keep the (old school) 5.4 grade is the large pebble that serves as a left foothold to get you on the wall, past that its just a cruise. The bottom is damp often but the top usually isn't. Remember with all of the older trad lines in the Red (60's and 70's FA) the grades will be a bit stiffer.
By Hillbill
From: Indianapolis
Oct 7, 2013

This is a "pretty good" route. Start is a little difficult for the beginning trad climber (first 10 feet). I will say the rock at the top is very sketchy...loose boulders in such. Also, the picture posted of this route is incorrect, that picture is actually showing Calypso II.
By Tobey Unruh
Jul 6, 2014

Just tried my first trad lead yesterday (7/5/2014) on this route and the score stands 0-1. :) The 'large pebble' is certainly a hidden gem but make sure your shoes can bite it. Made it to the ledge about 10' up just couldn't get pro in to get through the next phase. For the experienced trad climber, hexes will work but I didn't have enough big cams (#2-#4) to send it. I will be back..

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