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Cussin' Crack 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Harold Walton and party, early '50s
Page Views: 15,705
Submitted By: Matt Bauman on Jan 1, 2001

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Friso Schlottau pauses before attacking the crux v...

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  • Description 

    Start up easy chimney with good pro and traverse left when possible, make tricky move up to large ledge and belay. Start up cracks and get into large and slippery V-slot. Cruise this crack system for a long pitch and belay on ledge. The third pitch is easy 5th scramble to summit.

    The downclimb is mostly 3rd class with a couple 4th or easy 5th class moves down the north face with gullies and ramps (avoid doing this in the dark).

    Eds. Note, this route has become quite smooth over the years and is more difficult for the short statured climber. Please be aware this is not your typical Front Range 5.7.


    Small to large cams ... good selection up to #4 Camalot, a few nuts would be good, too. Set up anchors with cams also.

    Photos of Cussin' Crack Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Cussing Crack.
    Cussing Crack.
    Rock Climbing Photo: David coming up the last bit of the first pitch, y...
    David coming up the last bit of the first pitch, y...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at the second pitch V-slot.
    BETA PHOTO: Looking down at the second pitch V-slot.
    Rock Climbing Photo:
    Rock Climbing Photo: Brenda Leach climbing the easy but runout slab sta...
    Brenda Leach climbing the easy but runout slab sta...
    Rock Climbing Photo: The yellow line indicates a variation for pitch on...
    The yellow line indicates a variation for pitch on...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Holliday climbing the final hard moves on the...
    Dave Holliday climbing the final hard moves on the...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Holliday setting a knee bar at the start of t...
    Dave Holliday setting a knee bar at the start of t...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Greg Hartman leading the second pitch, this should...
    BETA PHOTO: Greg Hartman leading the second pitch, this should...

    Comments on Cussin' Crack Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 26, 2016
    By Friso Schlottau
    Jan 1, 2001

    Did this route on April 1st, 2001 with Dave Klein - the date seemed appropriate. This climb (pitch 2) definitely seemed... odd. First I felt sandbagged by the rating, but in retrospect, maybe its just a really weird climb, and 5.7 is as good a guess as any to what the rating should be. I followed that pitch, and had a good struggle with the slick rock in the v-slot... the climb is aptly named; lets leave it at that. Previously, I had considered this as my second trad lead, but now I am very glad I just followed it. Definitely not a good beginner lead. Did we miss something? Also, descent blows when snow is still around. We ended up rapping off the back. I guess that is the definition of a "classic"?!?
    By Matt Bauman
    Jan 1, 2001

    The 2nd pitch is the only good pitch on this climb and the crux is a short slippery section protected by #4 Camalot...just one move and you are secure with a good hold...pretty cruiser I thought on my second lead, but first time up there I was a bit freaked by the slipperyness of this section also.... Best way to descend from the summit is to scramble to north and look for big ledge with pine tree that has chain and carpet around it...rappel from here to avoid the worst of the down-climbing.... Hardly feels like a classic climb (done it twice) but the 2nd pitch is long and fun. Also, start the first pitch by climbing the slab to the right before entering the cave (fun)...or an easier start is around to the right from the slab up the shallow corner...the chimney sucks but is quite easy. I'd say it's a pretty good beginner lead since it is not very sustained, has good pro and only one move of 5.7 at the crux, one of the easier 5.7s around boulder that I remember...Bailey's overhang (75 feet left of Cussin's) is a better climb than Cussin but has one move (the overhanging slot) that is 5.8...the rest is fun and sustained 5.6. Pitch 2 goes up the grassy looking crack/corner but is actually WAY cool and sustained 5.6 with a move or 2 of 5.7 (lots of fun).....other good beginner leads at this level might be all of the 5.7s at Happy Hour Crag (the long one up the middle is fun, Malign), Washington Irving and Duh Dihedral (both 5.6 and on the West Ridge at Eldo), Your Basic Lieback (sustained 5.6 hand crack/lieback on lower Peanuts wall in Eldo), Wind Ridge, The Owl on the Dome (Cozyhang sucks bad) and many others....
    By Michael Komarnitsky
    Founding Father
    From: Seattle, WA
    Jan 1, 2001

    The route actually goes up the chimney to the left for the first pitch... you could go up the face, I guess, but the pro would be spicy to the extreme.
    By Michael Komarnitsky
    Founding Father
    From: Seattle, WA
    Jan 1, 2001

    Nothing wrong with a little spice.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jul 1, 2001

    I did the route with a total beginner. The slab pitch was easy but run out(don't fall). The second pitch was a great dihederal although the v-slot was slick, it was just 1 move then a great long pitch with challenging moves. Definately worth a look, but remember it's old school 5.7. My partner thought it was a great route but told me to keep in mind that he didn't lead it. Remember to leave daylight for descent.Will Maercklein june 30, 00
    By Michael Walker
    From: Loveland, CO
    Sep 10, 2001

    Comments from the optimists club: lest anyone be turned off by the above comments (I almost was...) here's my take from yesterday's climb: Interesting chimney start and odd mantel/hand traverse at safe bolt. A crazy move - neat. Belay on super ledge looking up at impressive V-slot. 2nd pitch starts with an odd sized crux with a bomber #4 - safe/fun/odd!! Go up to the first break where two distinct shelfs appear - one being on the left of the crack and one to the right, right on the arete. Make a belay in the crack above and have a great seat on the arete with a perfect view of your second attacking the v-slot. From this wonderful belay, climb the last bit of good climbing up a steep corner then run it out to the summit. I love climbs that end on the summit, and climbs with history. If this was more sustained I could see a third star. Two stars - just right!

    The descent was not that bad - just pretend you're bushwacking in the Adirondacks and don't miss the rappel tree tucked away on the shelf to the right (as you look down the north face) - the one with the CHAIN around it - once the downclimb gets "serious".

    The key to this climb? Sunshine, the arete-seat-belay and good company...
    By Clare Shemeta
    Sep 19, 2001

    Led the first pitch of this today. Did the slab start to right of chimney: I thought it was fun (put in one pyschological nut), although a couple of years ago it haired me out. I could not, however, find the "proper" route for the traverse at the end of the first pitch. We ended up going a ways out onto the bench and doing a hard move to scramble up a small slot to the left of the skanky looking bolt on the face. Is the "real" route to the RIGHT of the bolt, up the cracks, the right one of which has a broken off piton? This seemed harder than 5.7! Help!
    By Darin Lang
    Sep 20, 2001

    Clare: You were on the correct route, to the left of the bolt (I use the term "bolt" loosely when referring to this protection point).
    By Michael Walker
    From: Loveland, CO
    Sep 20, 2001

    Odd route, isn't it?

    btw - upon retrospect, I had gear in the cracks off to the right with a long sling when I approached the bolt. In case it blew I wouldn't crator. It was interesting to remember that it was "safe", maybe I looked at it and said "at least it will hold a quickdraw;" otherwise I wouldn't have even clipped it ;-p.
    By Anonymous Coward
    May 2, 2002

    First off, let me say that the downclimb is nothing. There's one section that is kindasorta exposed as you go down a slabby ramp section and then a single interesting downclimb that I would call 5.0 if it were any longer than 25 feet, but as is I call it fourth class. I've gone up and down it numrous times, and am in no way a superman trad climber who can do that kind of stuff with his eyes shut. The steep section has giant hand holds galore, and ledges, too. If you like you can find yourself a cave to crawl through or go over the giant boulder using the water hole on top as a ladder rung. Let me ask, if it were a ladder would you be more willing to downclimb it? Personally I think yes, and this is as easy if not easier than a ladder. You can smear! Oh, and the V-Slot is almost fourth class, if it weren't for the fall potential and the chimney and/or slab. The slippery section on the second pitch is the only thing that makes it 5.7, and I'd personally still call it 5.6. Like I said, I'm no superman trad climber. I've soloed cussin' crack, and only because I'm scared of gear, and gear just seemed to be a waste of time on this. Anyhoo, climb on!
    By Ernie Port
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Oct 11, 2002

    Rossiter calls this a real classic, and I agree. I made the traverse left into a very short 2nd pitch. I clipped the manky hanger, then cranked up on the parallel cracks to the right of this hanger using the piton scarred pockets with the left hand and a decent seam on top that I got the end of my finger tips in with the right. I believe this move/variation to be 8+ as there are no feet until you commit by pulling up and yarding the left foot up high onto a small bowl. My shorter partner could not reach the high seam and went left of the hanger. The V slot is smooth and awkward but no harder than 7. Fun route!
    By Will Clopton
    May 23, 2003

    I recommend the boulder start. It was more fun than being in the chimney. I got two psychological nuts in the piton scar before making what turned out to be very easy slab moves to a comfortable shelf on the boulder. The crux to me was the tricky moves at the end of pitch one. On the traverse left, go up to the left of the bolt. Being 5 ft 7 in, I could just reach the handhold. I yarded on it with no feet and found a nice crack above. I threw a left heel up and was over. I think this is could be quite easy for a tall person, but it was a 5.8 to me. The move is all arms, almost no feet and not good protection. My partner, who is 5 ft 6 in, could not reach the hold and resorted to yarding on a sling I had left dangling down for her to yard on. We enjoyed the rest of the route. The v-slot is secure and protected.
    By Paul Weiss
    Aug 7, 2003

    The crux for me was the traverse on the first pitch. I stand at 5'6" and could not reach any holds and not a lot for the feet either. Found this to be frustrating. Any advice would help?? My friend Tim Feaver is much taller and the move was much easier for him. The second pitch is all about the grunt factor and doing whatever it takes as long as you are moving forward but really does protect well so go crazy. Getting off the top is not all that bad even though it was in the dark and no prior experience.
    By Michael Kullman
    Aug 24, 2003

    We climbed this yesterday (8-23-03) and thought it was a great climb. I lead the first pitch (via slab start) but instead of traversing up the ramp then back left to the mank bolt (which I guess is the 'official' route) I stepped across onto the face at the top of the slab and went straight up. Anyone know the name/rating of this variation? 5.7 maybe? I thought it made the lower portion of the climb much more interesting and way more challenging. The gear was OK, although stepping across and making the first move onto the face kind of scared the piss out of me (potential for an ugly fall).
    By Gary Schmidt
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 6, 2005

    Personally, would not recommend for someone just breaking into 5.7.
    By Ron Olsen
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 9, 2005
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

    A Boulder Canyon classic and a good introduction to wide crack climbing.

    Here's how I like to do the climb:

    p1. 5.7, 80'. Climb the face right of the chimney. You can get in a nut and a small Alien down low, but you are soon in groundfall territory. The climbing isn't too hard (5.5), so stay with it until you can get in a good big cam below a chockstone at the top of the face. Continue up and traverse straight left to a ledge with an old bolt. You can back up the bolt with nuts and small cams.

    The move past the bolt can be done two ways. For me, the easiest is high right: climb up right of the bolt, step left onto a sloping ramp, and pull across onto your left foot. At 6'1", this felt about 5.6. The other way is low left: Continue left past the bolt, then crank straight up. This seems a lot harder. Belay on a big ledge just above this move.

    p2. 5.7, 70'. Move the belay to a higher ledge at the start of the V-slot. Climb the V-slot using knee-foot bars with the right leg (a kneepad on right knee is very helpful). Press down with the right palm and hop the left foot up the crack. Repeat several times and you're through the crux. The V-slot can be protected with small-to-medium cams and nuts; no need for a #4 Camalot. Belay on a good ledge at the top of the V-slot.

    p3. 5.7, 90'. More fun climbing on this pitch. Continue up to a corner and roof, pass it on the left, and cruise up to a good ledge about 30' below the summit. Belay here. Bring your partner up then unrope and scramble to the top.

    The descent is devious; pay careful attention to find the easiest way. From the top, head a little left and downclimb past a series of ledges, eventually reaching a tree with a chain and slings. You can rappel from here or continue left to a short steep downclimb that is easier than it looks. More moderate downclimbing leads to the trail.
    By TBlom
    Jul 13, 2005

    Old school grading... not for beginners who aren't very strong, placing gear from the greasy body smears and foot jams is exciting. I faced left side into the crack, right palm smearing on the right side of the dihedral. Reminds me of [Yosemite].
    By Brian Sorden
    Oct 27, 2005

    I loved this climb... Well, you could call it a love/hate sorta thing. Three stars for several reasons: This was [definitely] a departure from the routes you are going to see at gym or your local sport crag. Nasty full body climbing for most of this route. Shows what was considered a good route before modern climbing shoes were around. I also have a special place in my heart for a route that is rated 5.7 but makes me think and sweat as much as this did. Great, safe route that still takes you out of your comfort zone.
    By Jason Haas
    Mar 5, 2006

    I don't understand why this route is considered classic on so many lists. I soloed this route today and would have hated it if I had to deal with a rope and a bunch of cams, especially #4 Camalots, swinging around on my harness. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad line, I just don't think it deserves classic status. It doesn't feel very continuous with all the ledges and boulders, and even the second pitch you get tons of stem rests if you wanted them. Get on it and decide for yourself.
    By Phil Lauffen
    From: The Bubble
    Dec 12, 2008

    Not a lot of fun. The pitch up the V-slot is the only pitch worth doing (and perhaps the first 15 feet of the first pitch if you take the semi-unprotected direct start). The V-slot makes you sweat and think, but before long you are out of it and topping out on boring terrain. The first pitch is too ledgy; basically a series of easy bouldering problems. I don't know if my fears of decking were legitimate, but they were always in the back of my mind.
    By Rodger Raubach
    Mar 19, 2011
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

    When I started climbing, this was the first significant climb I ever led. It's really pretty safe and protectable.
    By JanetS
    From: Denver, CO
    Jul 18, 2011

    Ok, so if you 5'3", as I am, leading the move past the bolt is quite challenging! After reading other people's comments, I realized as soon as I got there I wouldn't be able to go up just to the right of the bolt. I ended up going up fartther right, up a slot with a broken piton. It was awkward, but doable. Then had to traverse back left above the bolt, which was a little scary and exposed but actually not terribly hard. Has anybody else gone this way?
    By snicho
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 24, 2011

    I am ALSO a 5'3" woman, and it was very challenging to get past the bolt. After a few minutes of checking it out, I did the exact same thing. Went up right and traversed left. Very relieved when I hit the ledge. The rest of the climb was amazing but very polished. All much more challenging that anticipated - which I loved.
    By Zane E
    From: Lyons, CO
    Oct 24, 2011

    Loved this sure was unique. Then again, I tend to find chimneys fun. The "cruxy" (for someone 5'8") move at the end of P1, the quick crack above that, grunting up the V, and the rest of the climb that seemed to go on forever. Had a big smile by the end. Definitely worth it.
    By YDPL8S
    From: Santa Monica, Ca.
    Nov 16, 2011
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

    Huh? This thing must've gotten a lot slippier since I climbed it back in the dark ages. Like Roger, it was one of my first leads, and thought it was much easier than the Bastille or Empor. The first time I did Jackson's Wall direct (I followed, didn't lead it), we used Cussin Crack for the downclimb, in the old blue Royal Robbins. Oh well, enough old fart crap.
    By Andy Hansen
    From: Longmont, Colorado
    Jul 13, 2012
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

    Let me take a moment to add to the BS about this route:

    P1: instead of climbing the chimney or face immediately right of the chimney, climb directly below the overhang to the right of the chimney. Good holds and protection can be had this way. Small cams and/or nuts. A few moves lead to the last portion of the chimney from where a ledge will be reached. Don't clip that bolt... instead place a small cam to its right, and pull the moves onto the belay ledge. 90' 5.7

    P2: don't bother moving the belay unless you really need to see your second. Instead, move west about 15 feet, and climb over easy terrain that leads to a ledge below the v-slot. The v-slot is very fun and easily protected without large cams. This leads to a perfect belay ledge. 100' 5.7 (really?)

    P3: climb up a weird chimney and belay, 50', 5.7.

    P4: easy terrain up to the summit, 5.2, 75'.

    Fun climbing, great position and a beautiful summit.
    By Bill Olszewski
    From: Colorado Springs, CO
    Sep 3, 2012
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

    Great climb with a truly "old school" adventure route feel! The right wall start is extremely spicy but fun; a #2 nut was my only pro until I gained the crack - big groundfall potential.
    By Rodger Raubach
    May 15, 2013
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

    To the PO: this has ALWAYS been a little slick! It's a water runnel.
    By J. Nickel
    Jul 24, 2015

    The bolt on the first pitch has been replaced and looks good.
    By Wayne DENSMORE
    From: Superior, CO
    Jul 27, 2015

    Ok, the descent used to be head north to a tree with chains and webbing for a rap. Got there today, and the tree had no chains or webbing on it. We found a tree nearby that had a rap station setup but was much more awkward. One of the climbers had a nasty tangle with a branch.

    What happened to the usual rap point? Haven't seen any discussion here or alternate descent recommendation.
    By Scott Ferguson 1
    From: Denver Colorado
    Oct 7, 2015

    We did the descent off of Castle Rock this past Saturday with no problems. The tree that used to sport chains now has some new webbing with a leaver carabiner. I used tape to secure the gate for the rap. From the ground, I could spot the old bolt on pitch there really a new one up there? Maybe the new just looks old from afar :)
    By Daniel Joder
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 8, 2016

    As of today, the rappel tree still had a piece of webbing and a leaver-to-Beaver biner that was taped shut. Thanks! Also, the bolt on the first pitch is pretty new and definitely worth clipping. Finally, just as you finish the cussin' part of the second pitch (the V-slot with kneebars) and you reach a nice sitting ledge, there is a piece of old rope hanging down there. It looks like it got stuck in the crack above. Not good as your belay anchor in case you are tempted to stop there. Best option would be to continue climbing past it and up the sort of chimney slot above until you top out on easier rock. First time back on this route since about 1976 or so. Seems more polished.
    By Jonathan Lam
    From: Reno, NV
    Jul 31, 2016

    I left my helmet at the top near the pine tree today. If you happen to have it, please pm me, your kindness will be greatly appreciated!
    By kswissto
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 26, 2016
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    At the end of the v-slot, on the ledge with the rope hanging from above, there is a very large loose block/wedge. It's right above the crack - and you have to step over it to continue up. That thing is going to go soon - it moved a few times while we were up there.

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