REI Community
West Ridge - part D - Xanadu to Pony Express
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Air Mail T 
Backslash T 
Barbie Doll Arete, The T 
Bit by Bit T,S 
Bottlenecks T 
Clean Dan T 
Coffee Break with Joe T 
Cold Turkey T 
Coniferous Types T 
Crazy Fingers T 
Cruising Lane T 
Detour, The T 
Doc's Little Brother T,TR 
Dr. Michael Solar T,TR 
Duh Dihedral T 
Early Bird Special T 
Fine Line T,TR 
Five Fang Overhang T 
Fork in the Road T 
Formula, The T 
Foxtrot T 
Funeral March T 
Hand Crack (aka White Lightning) T 
Hang Ten T,TR 
Highway 61 T 
Inverted Vee T 
Iron Pony T 
Kashmir T,TR 
Kubla Khan T 
Lady Fingers T 
Lunar Avenue T 
Lunar Lander T 
Masterbator's Edge, The T 
Milk and Honey T 
Milk Dreams T 
Mirage T 
Parallels T 
Pool of Blood T 
Positively Fourth Street T,TR 
Rhadamanthus T 
River Of Darkness T 
Road Narrows T 
Sign of the Cross T 
Snail Mail T 
Srinagar T 
Tampon T,TR 
Tango T 
Tanqueray T 
Terminal Velocity T 
Texas Two-Step T 
Three Lane Highway T 
Toprope Right of Formula TR 
Trip Itch T 
Tryptich T 
Whatever T 
Willow World T 
Working Class Hero T 
X T 
Xanadu T 
Zap Snack T 
Zip Code T 

Hand Crack (aka White Lightning) 

YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Jim Michael and Dan Hare?
Page Views: 13,042
Submitted By: Matt Robertson on Sep 30, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (326)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
On White Lightning - fingers section.

  • Seasonal Closures MORE INFO >>>
  • Seasonal Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    Imaginative name, but a fine pitch with clean, varied jamming and plentiful protection. The crux, in fact, is fingers - but the steep hand jamming above is quite good.

    The Hand Crack is located in an enclave of the upper West Ridge called the Cirque of the Cracks (a fittingly vague name since the West Ridge comprises 2000 feet of cirques and cracks). Fifty meters uphill from the Quartzite Ridge, locate an alcove with several obvious, chalked crack lines. Look for a steep hand crack (the Hand Crack, yes) about thirty feet right of a prominent, serrated, corner crack (the Duh Dihedral) and immediately right of a clean, left-facing dihedral (Terminal Velocity). Heavy chalkage marks the way, especially around an overhanging section of 2" crack forty feet up.

    The route appears unremarkable and discontinuous from below, but does provide some quality action and varied climbing - slabby fingerlocks, steep hand jams, an arete slap here and there. Jam the Crack through a tour of sizes and belay in a comfortable chimney below a loose ledge or traverse left to a slung tree atop Terminal Velocity (a few feet left/north). Either way, mind the abundant loose rock on these ledges. Rappel Terminal Velocity.

    Rossiter calls the FA Unknown; can any historians (or seniors) out there set the record straight? Important minutia.


    Standard Eldo rack to #2 or #3 Camalot; even the gripped should be well-equipped without doubles as the crack size varies substantially. If going light, leave the #3 Camalot behind; otherwise it can be sunk near the top for the last bit of (5.7 or .8) jamming.

    Photos of Hand Crack (aka White Lightning) Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Simon plugging in a #3.
    Simon plugging in a #3.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Greg Keith leading White Lightning on a sunny day ...
    Greg Keith leading White Lightning on a sunny day ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: On White Lightning.
    On White Lightning.
    Rock Climbing Photo: On White Lightning - hands.
    On White Lightning - hands.
    Rock Climbing Photo: White Lightning.
    White Lightning.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Cruising the crux.
    Cruising the crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The start of Hand Crack.
    The start of Hand Crack.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing half way on Hand Crack Photo by Tonya Rigg...
    Nearing half way on Hand Crack Photo by Tonya Rigg...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Excellent pitch.
    Excellent pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the finger crack.
    Approaching the finger crack.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Benson leading up the climb.
    Dave Benson leading up the climb.
    Rock Climbing Photo: As above, last one, I promise!
    As above, last one, I promise!
    Rock Climbing Photo: As above again.
    As above again.
    Rock Climbing Photo: As above.
    As above.
    Rock Climbing Photo: A beautiful December by Tony Bubb hang...
    A beautiful December by Tony Bubb hang...

    Comments on Hand Crack (aka White Lightning) Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 5, 2014
    By Joe Huggins
    From: Grand Junction
    Oct 15, 2001

    A good route, I've soloed it many times, but have always referred to it as White Lightning. Don't know the first though.
    By Peter Spindloe
    From: North Vancouver, BC
    Nov 28, 2001

    I agree that it's a little easier than the grade suggests, but a very pleasant climb, even on a fairly cold day (look at the pictures).
    By Shane Zentner
    From: Colorado
    Feb 3, 2003

    [Definitely] a worthy climb with good pro. I fell at the crux of Hand Crack and was stopped by a green alien. This was a fun route to do, [especially] if one is a beginning 5.10 trad leader, such as myself.
    By M. Morley
    From: Sacramento, CA
    Jun 22, 2003

    Excellent route with varied technique.
    By Chris Archer
    Nov 30, 2003
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Great climb. Don't know why it was renamed in the guide, especially since there is already a route named Handcracker on the West Ridge. As Joe says, it had always been referred to as White Lightning until Boulder Climbs South came out.
    By SirVato
    From: Boulder
    Apr 21, 2004

    Fun, Fun, Fun route !! Don't try to fiddle with nuts or it gets quite pumpy! just shove small cams in an let 'er rip!!
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    Oct 9, 2004
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    I was a little gripped on this (I have a whole LIST of excuses, but in the interest of posterity...), so I sewed it up REALLY well. One nut which was backing up a slung flake before the wide crack at the top. The rest were cams. Takes green alien (blue if you are REALLY gripped at the beginning) through #2 at the top. Leave the #3 on the ground. No need for the weight. Wonderful climb. 5.10a/b

    I left a blue (small) Trango Flexcam at the bottom due to darkness and difficulties involving removal. I have a case of beer for the brave/honest soul that returns it to me. Sentimental values more than anything else... Thanks.

    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    Oct 9, 2004
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Sorry... That's a "college case" (12 beers), not a full case of micros... It ain't worth THAT much to me! ~Wm
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    Oct 13, 2004
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Russ, you know what???

    YOU suck! No, actually, I respect all that you and Darren said. I think that you both see things pretty similarly after reviewing profiles last night. Incidentally, you both sound like really cool people to climb with. Not only does it embarass me that I got my nuts in a crack, but it also pisses me off that I lost the money invested in said nuts. Believe me when I said that I tried hard to remove the cram. I placed a green alien immediately below it, slung it, put my foot in it toe into the rock, then levered my ankle down on the Green to expand the rock just a few microns, maybe more. The cam actually repositioned with my urging. The idea was to move it up to a wider spot in the crack... Didn't work. Tried the "reverse fiddle" method too.. Point is that it was getting dark, cold, we had but one flashlight, and I had shit to do, namely get a less-than-enthusiastic girlfriend down from the area while we could still see. Car was reached in the dark, but we made it.

    About the bugging bit, I fully expected some fun and interesting replies so I was adequately braced before re-visiting my post. Believe it or not I laughed a good bit. All in good fun, all in the interest of further opening one's mind. In any case, thanks for the comments, the fascinating nut-rescuing technique. I bet you're one of the ones who tried to pilfer (if not successfully) "Myke's Stopper" on Myke's Stopper Slab... I can't remember if it's still there or not. Maybe reason to re-visit the climb. Keep the comments coming in one form or another. Give's me something to do instead of research papers...due tomorrow...that I haven't started yet...

    By Anonymous Coward
    Feb 21, 2005

    A great climb! I think this climb deserves its rating. The finger locks can be slick and if you have sausages for fingers like me its hard to get those puppies in there. A word to the wise...Dont place gear in the crack directly after the finger crack and expect it to hold. My first time on it I got pumped after the finger locks plugged a .5 cam in the crap rock and went for it only to fall. My piece pulled as did a good hunk of rock.
    By Jason Shatek
    Jul 22, 2005
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

    I thought this route could go at 10a or 10b. This is an excellent route for starting 5.10 leaders. The gear is very good and straight forward. However, the moves eluded me for some time! The finger crack is really pumpy with crappy feet. The second you hop out onto the slab the clock starts ticking; just use cams or you'll burn out! Move quickly or the boogeyman in your head will demand you yell "take" after a short period of time. To me it felt like a more sustained climb than chockstone and I had a harder time with this one than tagger. Probably because it requires sequencing of several 5.10 moves while placing gear. I doubled on green aliens for the finger crack; it just sucks'um right off your rack. Last week I fell on on one of the green aliens and it held, so its a good piece to bring. Very good climb; highly recommended!
    By Rob Kepley
    From: Westminster,CO
    Sep 16, 2006
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

    One of the best climbs in this area. Great pro throughout with fun movement.
    By Ken Cangi
    From: Eldorado Springs, CO
    Nov 11, 2007
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

    I agree with Dave. This route, compared to Chockstone, which I think has a harder and tricker crux move, is pretty straightforward. All the jams and locks are solid.
    By Andy Laakmann
    Site Landlord
    From: Bend, OR
    Oct 21, 2008
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Good fun. Felt soft for the grade, I give it 10a. Bomber pro every step of the way.
    By Eric Goltz
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 4, 2008

    I'm writing this because it's not mentioned in the description: you can place a directional near the top of the pitch, then lower off a set of double-bolts atop Terminal Velocity. After your partner is finished cleaning, you'll be all set to TR T.V.!
    By Larry Marquardt
    Aug 25, 2009

    I'm thinking Jim Michael and Dan Hare did the first ascent at roughly the same time as Xanadu was put up. :)
    By Andrew McLean
    From: Colorado
    Nov 20, 2009
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Loved this route. This was my first Eldo. "5.10" lead and I must say I thought it was easier than some 5.9+ in the area. Not a surprise. Extra #2s and a #3 for the hand crack up high would have been nice.
    By JVonD
    From: Longmont, CO
    Mar 2, 2010

    Steve A's ascent of White Lightning (AKA: Hand Crack) 5.10b in Eldorado Canyon Colorado.
    By Joseph Crotty
    From: Broomfield, CO
    Mar 2, 2010
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

    JVonD, love the video of Steve Annecone. Is the sound track from 'Blodder is my Spotter?'
    By ClimberSuz
    From: Jackson, WY
    May 24, 2010

    Just for another perspective on size (it matters!): for me the crux was the top section which was between hand and fist (#3 Camalot)! The fingers and hand sections were easier. Great route without a doubt.
    By Tommey-James
    From: Boulder,Colorado
    Jul 11, 2011
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Great gear, thought the cruz was down low exiting the finger locks and getting to the hand crack. 10a is perfect, for sure no harder.
    By Canon
    Jul 23, 2011
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    You can TR it from the Terminal Velocity anchor with a directional in the crack up at the top. Fantastic climb. There are a couple swallows that live in the second crack above the crux.
    By Ben Burnett
    From: Colorado
    Mar 4, 2012
    rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b

    Bring the #3 Camalots! I would have placed 2 if I had them! That's about all that will fit in the upper crack, which is pretty hard for those with small hands. Unfortunately I placed my #3 on the middle section. I started with a bad #0.75 but immediately added the #3 higher up when I saw the condition of the rock where the smaller cam goes - see AC's post above.
    I find the middle to be the crux - my hands just don't seem to fit well!
    By Eric Haye
    From: Boulder
    Jul 23, 2012
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13

    Great route. Bottom portion is the crux. A blue Alien, green aliens and a yellow Alien should do it. Hand crack section is grea,t and if I were to rack up again, I would take a 3rd #2 and #3 BD cam. Does not require any nuts and you can leave the #0.5, 0.75 and 1 BD doubles behind.
    By Jessica Pemble
    From: Yosemite, CA
    Feb 3, 2013

    This route is great and has a little of everything; definitely bring a #3 for the top if you have small hands! I had a few insecure fists at the top, and it was awesome to have it.
    By Coury Ditch
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Apr 7, 2013

    A group of us climbed it this morning. Absolutely great route! There was a large loose block (really chalked up) right before you start into the section of solid hands, but as we were hiking down from Rincon later in the day a group of people decided to trundle the block into the scree down the way.

    Some will like, some will disapprove. Interested to see how it climbs now though. New fist crack? big hands?

    By Alex Vidal
    From: Boulder, CO
    Apr 8, 2013

    I climbed the route today in its new trundled form. The climb now accepts a #4 Camalot and is quite a bit easier through this section. There is a lot of dirt and loose rock still in the crack (much to the dismay of my belayer), we tried to get as much out as possible. Until it gets cleaned up a bit, I won't be climbing this route.
    By farkas.time
    From: Albuquerque, NM
    Aug 1, 2013
    rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    My first 5.10 trad lead today. Super safe, super fun. Do it! Found Chockstone (5.10a) substantially harder.
    By The Blueprint Part Dank
    From: FEMA Region VIII
    Oct 5, 2014
    rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Super fun route, instant classic in my book. Very reminiscent of the style of climbing at the Tennessee Wall, where I cut my teeth years ago. I agree with I some of the other posts that this felt a bit soft for 10b, and the gear is excellent. So don't let the grade intimidate you away from this beauty.

    "White Lightning" is a way more bad ass name for this IMHO.

    Mountain Project

    The Definitive Climbing Resource

    MTB Project

    Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

    Powder Project

    Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
    FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About