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East Wall Inner (Exorcist Area)
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YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 60'
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Tobin Sorenson, Jim Wilson, Dick Shockley & Dean Fidelman, February 1974
Page Views: 12,766
Submitted By: C Miller on Jan 1, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (265)
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Can't remember what I had climbed (I think it was ...


Thin jams and a bit of liebacking up a smooth, thin crack characterize the start which protects well with wires and small cams. Higher the crack ends and turns to face climbing past a bolt which protects to the top. Rap from anchors on the ledge above with one rope.


The obvious striking crack in a recessed area.


Gear to 2", bolt (3/8"), 2 bolt anchor/rap (3/8")

Photos of Exorcist Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Traffic jam on the exorcist
Traffic jam on the exorcist
Rock Climbing Photo: Lisa Pritchett leading Exorcist
Lisa Pritchett leading Exorcist
Rock Climbing Photo: Mr. Carroza stylin' in afternoon sunlight on the E...
Mr. Carroza stylin' in afternoon sunlight on the E...
Rock Climbing Photo: Past the finger crux and on to more fun.
Past the finger crux and on to more fun.
Rock Climbing Photo: Anyone got a stamp 'cuz I'm about to SEND IT!
Anyone got a stamp 'cuz I'm about to SEND IT!
Rock Climbing Photo: Dow Williams leading Exorcist
Dow Williams leading Exorcist
Rock Climbing Photo: Mark Taylor leading The Exorcist, March 1990
Mark Taylor leading The Exorcist, March 1990
Rock Climbing Photo: Killer
Rock Climbing Photo: Bruno Hache moving to the big chicken head above t...
Bruno Hache moving to the big chicken head above t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jody's 1st 5.10 crack!ya
Jody's 1st 5.10 crack!ya
Rock Climbing Photo: Good rest stance
Good rest stance

Comments on Exorcist Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 20, 2016
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Jan 13, 2003
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I think that the crack is the crux because of its sustained nature and protection placing requirements. The bottom crack takes wires nicely, but place them wisely; I have seen more than one person pop wires as they make upwards progress.

3-Star Classic!
By namascar
Feb 2, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

The Exorcists demands a varied range of climbing techniques. Finger and off finger locks, laybacks, edging and crimping and outstanding mantel move. There is a rock outcrop below the mantle move that sounds awfully funny, you may want to instruct your belayer not be in its fall line.A boulderly move is required to reach the bottom of the climb proper. Having the rock shoes on there may help. A sixty meter rope allows you to rappel to ground, but it is easy to get the rope stuck.
By Bo Johnston
Feb 13, 2004

Great route. Definitely a little tricky getting to the start of the route. Left side was good. There is a two bolt "cold shunt" anchor at the top for an easy rap down the route which the book doesn't mention. The final move at the bolt is definitely the crux! Have fun.
By TrevorB
Jun 22, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Solid line, I remember that the sustained nature of it was the crux for me. I'm a skinny out of shape schmuck though, so if you're able to type a sentence on your keyboard without getting pumped (I just had to shake out), the move near the bolt is probably the technical crux.
By Karen
From: Prescott
Sep 13, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I've a question for those of you who have climbed this route. Is it a true 10a? I found the bottom crack to be quite difficult and the crux moves on the face to the mantle to be rather easy. I had been warned that if one were short, (I being 5'3), this would be the most difficult section-it was not, a few face moves, then a long reach to a great mantle, so fun. Lately, I've had the opportunity to climb other finger cracks that were rated at a higher level-i felt exorcist to be kinda a sandbag....anyones' opinions appreciated.....
By Randy
Sep 13, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

While the face move may not be terribly hard, the crack is certainly only 5.9 or so. The crack has lots of face holds on its lip which provide good rests/footholds.
By Karen
From: Prescott
Sep 13, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I'm going to explain my thoughts on the exorcist by listing some specifics. I feel the lower portion of the crack below the horn is clearly a point more difficult than the following 9's: Pope's crack, Colorado crack, Invisibility lessons, Dave's deviation, the 9's on the Open book and the 2nd pitch on the Consolation. These are all established 5.9 cracks that I realize some might disagree with me, however, this is food for thought. Remember, I am talking specifically the crack below the horn.
By Josh Beck
Sep 14, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I agree the face is the crux. Excellent rock and excellent route, but not terribly long or sustained...
By Woody Stark
Sep 14, 2004

By listing other nine cracks, Karen has made a good point. The crack on the Exorcist is a point harder than any she listed. This, plus the sustained nature of the route overall, leads me to rate the route 10B, not that that will change many minds. Good thinking Karen.
By gnat
Sep 14, 2004
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

if woody and karen are correct (which is debatable), and the crack below the horn (all 10 feet of it) is "a point harder" than the other 5.9s listed by karen, then doesn't that make the route 5.10a? not sure how woody came up with 5.10b (but maybe its the new math).
By Woody Stark
Sep 14, 2004

No, not new math. The accumulation of difficult moves can result in a higher rating than the one hardest move. For example, the second pitch of the Open Book is continuous six and seven moves with a possible eight near the cave. The pitch is rated 5.9 because of the numerous fatiguing moves. Think about a climb that has a lot of minimal five moves then one 5.9. The route's rated, and properly so, 5.9. However, a route that has a series of challenging moves that require sustained endurance and put a greater demand on the climber must somehow be distinguished from the former. If I make three or four nine moves in a row without relief, the burden is a good deal more than making one move at nine. Look, it's not science, only a somewhat rough and subjective approach to rating. That's why these debates are rather enjoyable.
By Karen
From: Prescott
Sep 14, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I've come to a conclusion that some of JT's multi-starred routes should be de-starred, exorcist being one. I'm still trying to exorcise the demon after that climb, ya know, one man's-or woman's-on site flash is another man/woman's sandbag !!! Now Woody, don't bash my grammer.....
By Woody Stark
Sep 16, 2004

As a retired teacher, I'm always eager to help a pupil passionate to improve his or her mind. I felt my previous lesson was up to snuff, and I suppose it was for most. However ,on occasion, I must set aside a bit of time for a special needs situation. Gnat my man. I'll make it elementary as Holmes used to say to Watson who was always--in the Hollywood versions anyway--in need of further and simple explanations--that is more elementary than is necessary for the average intellect: "The Exorcist" is an old classic that I've climbed, I believe, four times over my climbing career of forty-one years; memory is a little shaky with all the rock I've trolled over during that time. Further, well...there's age to consider etc. The route is quite sustained and steep; with the exception of the two marginal reststops for one foot, and the necessity of having to lock in all the way to the horn, the climber is under constant anaerobic stress. ( Sorry, I lost myself. I forgot my pupil's special needs.)That's hard breathing. Now follow closely Gnat because this gets so much more complicated. There is a section in the crack at about the halfway point that, to me, is the crux. I'll digress here for a moment to explain. The crux, Gnat, is the really, really hard spot in the whole "endeavor". (Look it up.). I believe this spot is 10A. This of course would be open to dispute within the climbing community because just about everything is in dispute in the climbing community. Further, I do not insist that it be accepted as such. It is an opinion. Now, follow along. The difficulty continues in an unrelenting manner which is both good and bad: good because that adds to the reputation of the route--the more demanding of one's climbing skills and endurance the better; bad because, from my experience and that of others I've known over the years, some serious fatigue is setting in by the time the horn is reached. Now one is attached to the horn and replenishing oxygen which is necessary to continue on and for life. (Your science teacher can explain.) At this point, we attain the summit of the horn which, if one examines it closely, becomes a true existential moment of awareness. (That may be explained to you later in life, but I doubt it. And in your case, you may not notice it.) Now we have what is considered by most another 10A problem to deal with. Whatever one's opinion here, it is thin and tricky and the pullup above is strenuous. With the exception of the horn which, if you had any sense at all you left quickly, you can now rest comfortably for the first time. So, now to summarize: we have a very steep crack and thin footholds when moving; rest between moves is problematic in that one must constantly lock in; there are eights, nines and ten a's(two)all the way. We have what is referred to as a synergy. We have something that, I believe, is greater than the sum of its parts. I'm probably loosing you here, but I can only do so much. Here's something a little more specific:I believe the "Exorcist" is more difficult than the crux pitch on "The Step", "The Blank", "The Swallow". There are others; however, that should be sufficient. Now, am I going to ask Randy to up the rating to 10B? No. He wouldn't do it anyway. It's an old classic; leave it alone.Okay Gnat, we've had our tutorial; I hope you've taken notes. I must now return to deal with my two, four legged, female Siamese whom I put on a diet. And the synergy of their unhappiness, mischief and complainig is going to give me a 12D day of misery. It's time for recess Gnat; try to get along out there.
By L. Hamilton
Sep 18, 2004
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Huh. I thought it straightforward at 5.10a. My 16-year-old followed with his arm in a cast. I'm surprised to see an "upgrade" discussion about this particular line, but I've only done it once.
By mr. poultry
Mar 31, 2005
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Exorcist fits the style of JT 10's. A little scary, a little hard, thought-provoking. I did it 15 years ago and looked at it again last week on a vacation there. Beautiful route! All the drama and photogenic views of a harder climb, with positive holds and good gear. I was new to cracks at the time and lie-backed the whole thing, wasting many terrific finger locks, so it was a lot more strenuous than it had to be.
By avk
Oct 16, 2006

Yes, for shorter people, there is a one extra move to reach the horn/jug. If I remember it correctly, finger locking, foot smear and reach for the jug. The move is not as bad as it looks. My taller friend, 5'-10, could reach the jug from the last good foot. I rated no more than 10a. Some 10a I found harder than this one.
By AWinters
From: NH
Oct 28, 2007

Felt like .10a to me...
By Shipp
From: laguna beach, ca
Jan 25, 2009
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

This route is 5.10a and I am always right.
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Oct 8, 2009
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

We headed over here for a quick lap the other day. There is no reason why I can't lead this route...other than I remembered it being hard. That said, I had Russ lead it.

Thank God I did! Thin, slick down low and borderline just tough. I didn't fall, but if I had to fiddle with gear at all I'd be at my limit.

I did a second lap on it just for good measure, climbing it like I'd lead it.....results.....Hang.

Great route, too bad it's not on the ground floor and a solid lead for anyone. Russ tried to down rate it....don't believe him.


By Nick Sullens
From: Yosemite/ Bishop
Dec 1, 2009

Definitely a ten a, takes small nuts extremely well, I didn't place a single cam. Great climb.
By Adam Stackhouse
Apr 9, 2011
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

By Simon Hatfield
From: Oakland, CA
Oct 31, 2011
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Safe, great locks, slippery feet, and harder than some other classic Josh .10a's.

Its easy to get your rope stuck on the pull. You can avoid this by rapping as far to the right as possible.
By Canon
Jan 14, 2012

A mix of fingerlocks and liebacking, the crux was definitely just above the bolt. Took me a while to find that reeeachy right hand.
By Rafael Rovirosa
From: Salt Lake, UT
Feb 2, 2012
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Be careful with the big horn right above the end of the crack. The horn is super loose and it would fall right on your belayer if they don't notice it and move out from under the crack.
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Mar 11, 2013
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Did anyone else find the "approach pitch" scary as shit? Climbing up the water trough and making a couple traversing slab moves next to a really wide crack... I took my pack off and felt like I should have placed pro for getting up to the base of the crack. Definitely some sketchy approach shoe smearing going on. I built an achor at the base of the crack and belayed my partner up and they slipped a few times. The rock is somewhat polished from water run off, so heads up! We rapped off with a 70 and rapped all the way to the bottom to avoid down climbing that slabby sketchiness.
By Brian Chastain
Mar 12, 2013

That is funny Nelson. I was thinking to myself, I don't remember that. Then I remembered that I did that 5.8 thing left of it to warm up and rapped down to the base of Exorcist. I made an anchor for my girlfriend to belay from and we rapped back to the bottom with our 70m too. I disregard all finger crack ratings because I hate them and they kick my ass. Guess I better start working on them more or go back to OW'ing.
By Justin Tomlinson
From: Monrovia, CA
Dec 15, 2013

I thought the lower crack was harder than the upper steep reachy move to the jug. The crack was sustained. Rests on the crack were small.

Crack on Touch and Go was a little bit easier, but clearly so. I'd put the crack at 10a.
By Tradiban
Dec 18, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Maybe 10a but definitely four stars, getting shut down is no reason to give it less stars.
By plantmandan
From: Brighton, CO
Oct 18, 2014
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Great route, beautiful line. The moves are all there, but I thought it was fairly sustained. I agree with Nelson, the "approach pitch" is quite committing (maybe 5.3, a polished crimpy move onto a slab) with potential for a scary fall.
By dnaiscool
Apr 16, 2015

I've led this route many times, and it is one of my favorite finger cracks in the Park. I think the .10a rating is valid, but when considering the spectrum of a few other JT finger cracks of the same grade, I put this one on the harder end of the scale. BITD, I listed the analogs for this climb in my purple guide, and they are, from "Easy" .10a fingers to "Hard" .10a fingers:

No Calculators Allowed
Tossed Green
Rt. Baskerville Crack
Tax Man
Right Mel Crack

Question: .10b ?...IMO, don't think so. However, this does not account for the "Elephant in the Room": Anatomy. Rating any crack climb is terribly difficult. The 5'3" woman in this thread may have very thin fingers, so the locks will not be near as good as they are for me, a man with slightly fatter fingers than others. (Head over to Indian Creek Utah, where this becomes a MAJOR issue, and 5.11+ for me is .10a for the ladies with the tiny hands!!)

BTW... I love the part in the movie in the thread where the leader complains of a numb finger from a specific jam: That same numbness hit me every time I did this climb, and it lasted for days!

The fundamental problem with rating climbs is that climbers often lack the experience of climbing the "Standard" routes of any certain grade to have the proper perspective. In his historically significant 1973 article in Ascent Magazine, Jim Bridwell introduces the concept of a letter grade to better distinguish between hard climbs in Yosemite Valley, and he lists (by consensus) each climb that represents the standard for that type of climbing at that specific grade. Bridwell also makes the point that although the single hardest move on a route may be 5.9, when you have to do many, many feet of this, the overall grade goes up, and many of his Standard routes reflect this. (Exorcist has more than 10 feet of stout crack climbing, and it is vertical.)

It is important to embrace these standards.

One Yosemite Standard .10a finger crack is "Sacherer Cracker", and when I think of a ten A, this climb comes to mind. Exorcist is a stout .10a, but no way is it harder than the kick-ass finger section of the "Sacherer Cracker".

Others in this thread have returned to one of the very first "Standard" climbs in their discussion of The Exorcist, and they cite "The Open Book" as a 5.9 to compare to. Although this climb is -in fact- the very first "Standard" route to represent the 5.9 grade, it bears nothing in common with the Exorcist because it is a completely different sort of climb. (Note: The Open Book was NOT the "first" 5.9, because at that time in American climbing history there were numerous climbs of equal or higher difficulty.) It is valid to compare it to those other routes at Tahquitz, like -as mentioned- the Consolation and the Innominate because these are more similar in style. Exorcist is IMO harder than either of those routes.

History Lesson...or maybe you already knew...

Tahquitz is the birthplace of the decimal system used to rate technical rock climbs. Originally it was called the "Sierra Decimal", or SD, system, because its founders all climbed with the Rock Climbing Section (RCS) of the Sierra Club. Royal Robbins and Jim Wilson (who did the FFA of The Open Book) were the authors of this system, and through consensus with others in the RCS, including Chuck Wilts, John Mendenhal Frank Hoover and many others, they established a list of "Standard Routes" for each of the decimal grades. For example, the standard for 5.0 was the Trough, while the standard for 5.7 was The Fingertrip.

Competing with this system at the time was the now extinct National Climbing Classification System (NCCS), which was being used in many areas, like the early JT, and could be recognized with the "F" in front of the number grade. The Damper was originally rated F9.

Since the climbers at Tahquitz were also those who spent a great deal of time in Yosemite Valley, they took their rating system there, and quickly it was being referred to as the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS)...and the rest is... history.

I began climbing in 1963, and I led all of the "Standard" routes at Tahquitz. That gave me a sound perspective. I think it is important for all climbers to take a sort of "walk to Mecca" and repeat the "Standard" routes at this area. This is especially important if you are a 5.11+ climber, because it is hard to understand the lower grades when you are that good. Moreover, climbers should seek the experience of ticking off that list The Bird compiled back in 1973, such that each of us may really know the grades, and -besides all that- the climbs are simply fantastic.

Exorcist...hard get out there and do some climbing!!
By Klaas
From: Goleta
Apr 21, 2015

Really nice route! Concerning small cams I was happy to have a blue and yellow TCU. Be careful at the beginning: I did not want to stop after the second pro to place pro and when I then stood on the little nose at the bottom I noticed that I was already so high over my protection that I would have hit the ground. So rather hang in your gear and make it safe.
By Sean
From: Oak Park, CA
Feb 20, 2016

rap with a 60 is long enough to reach all the way down to the lowest easy loooong ledge just a few ft above ground

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