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Unsorted Routes:

Huston Crack 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 50'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Cary Huston, 1955
Page Views: 10,330
Submitted By: Matt Bauman on Jan 1, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (211)
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Aaron elbows deep in Huston Crack.

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  • Description 

    Huston Crack begins on the bottom left side of Cob Rock in the middle of the buttress to the left of the North Face Center start. It is an obvious wide crack that goes straight up for 50 feet.

    It starts out with a few hand jams, quickly goes to fists for about 10 feet and then goes to a wide (arm-bar) crack for the remaining 35 feet (crux). The end of the crack starts to narrow to fist and hands again and then ends on a ledge....continue up steep but easy face to top of block with good cracks to set up belay/toprope.

    From here you can set up a TR for the 10d finger crack (hard) just right of Huston Crack (it's called Old Aid Crack) and 11a face climb to the right of Old Aid Crack.


    Mid to large cams. The crux needs at least 1 #4 Camalot or equivalent. A second big cam (4-4.5) might make you feel better.

    Photos of Huston Crack Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Chris firing Huston Crack.
    Chris firing Huston Crack.
    Rock Climbing Photo: If you are going to lead it, be sure to bring big ...
    If you are going to lead it, be sure to bring big ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Huston Crack.
    Huston Crack.
    Rock Climbing Photo:
    Rock Climbing Photo: Karate chop here...., Do I look like I am having f...
    Karate chop here...., Do I look like I am having f...
    Rock Climbing Photo: It would be great to have another #4 Friend and la...
    It would be great to have another #4 Friend and la...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tim leading Huston Crack with only one #4 Camalot ...
    Tim leading Huston Crack with only one #4 Camalot ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: James Burns on Huston Crack.
    James Burns on Huston Crack.

    Comments on Huston Crack Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 6, 2017
    By Ben Mottinger
    Founding Father
    Jan 1, 2001

    A #4 Camalot or equivalent is almost mandatory unless you run it out through the offwidth section. If you have two, you could really sew it up.
    By Warren Teissier
    Sep 17, 2001

    I made the mistake of assuming the crux was in the thin crack section near the bottom and foolishly decided to tackle the wide section with no pro. Needless to say things got a bit desperate when I reached the crux and my last piece was 25 feet below me (clearly in decking territory)

    The crux comes about 40 feet off the ground where the wide crack narrows enough to force your leg out of the offwidth jam. As stated by Ben, to pro this correctly, 2 number 4 Camalots would be needed (unless you care to walk one of them up with you).

    All this being said, this is a fun route, sustained and technical.
    By Legs Magillicutty
    From: Durango
    May 28, 2002

    Yeah, this is a good route, fun and frustrating. From the ground the rock around the wide part of the crack looks like there might actually be some good holds but the rock was pretty polished. The leg jam was harsh. I got stuck!!!
    By Dmitriy Zinchenko
    Aug 12, 2002

    This route makes for a great introduction to off-width cracks. It's a bit less than vertical and several hold outside and inside the crack make it a very worthwile TR.
    By The Llama
    Aug 18, 2003

    Be careful on this climb! You need large pro for the top (i.e. BD #4). I saw a guy deck from the top yesterday as his pro zippered, then got hauled out on a litter.. Other than, that VERY cool climb..and the 10d is also way cool..
    By ET
    Sep 4, 2003

    Ya, just to echo whats already been said. The crux on this one is high and you need a 4 or 4.5 BD size cam to protect it.

    Learned this one the hard way, I grounded out when I slipped at the crux and my tapped out 3.5 pulled.
    By Dane Casterson
    From: Boulder
    May 26, 2007

    Definitely wide. It's possible to to get good fist jams through the wide section if you reach deep enough.
    By Stephanovich
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 10, 2007

    Fat cracks are Phat! this one is fun, bring a big cam and just walk it along as you climb, Jammin' man...
    By Daniel Crescenzo
    Aug 13, 2007
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Good Clean Fun!!! First your jamming hands, then fists, then sideways fists, then arms and legs. Very nice crack clinic.
    By Dave Fiorucci
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Nov 5, 2007
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    I thought that the crack was heinous, I got spanked tiring to go up this off width beast, my feet didn't fit in the crack, and I ended up jamming knees and arm bars, prying apart the crack up toward the top, then I ran out of big gear and had to lower and TR. But I tell you my arms feel great today, guide book calls it an 8, but I have to disagree, and would bump it to a 9... I really like most cracks (and usually breeze up them) but I guess I have to learn a better technique for these off widths, I really wanted to do a toe-heal, but I wasn’t finding the right place for that, and most of the way my hands just felt too small. I will probably do this again until I get up without much trouble.
    By Mark Cushman
    From: Cumming, GA
    Nov 5, 2007
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I climbed this last month on a whim after getting done Empor. I didn't have the requisite big cams and I ran it out on lead to groundfall potential at my leading ability (not good). I walked a 3.5 Camalot up with me to about 1/2 way until it was too tipped out to function, then shot for the top. Well, I didn't actually shoot for the top, more like oozed up the crack to the top, sometimes gaining 6 inches then losing 2. At the crux I was fairly pumped, overgripping (oh feck, oh feck) and I ALMOST tried to face climb to the left to an inviting bolt I could fall from. I'm glad I didn't, I probably would have peeled. The moral of the story is to bring big cams.
    By Dave Fiorucci
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Nov 5, 2007
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    This was also a whim climb for our group after Empor, so after flailing all over this thing I didn't go home thinking I was the king of the mountain. #2 moral is not to try this after Empor.
    By Leo Paik
    From: Westminster, Colorado
    Nov 5, 2007

    I recall back in the early '90s Scott Parazinski, aka the vampire to John Glenn & one of the two astronauts on the recent record setting space walk, jumping onto this route on lead with my meager rack at the time with a #4 Friend as the biggest piece. =[:~o
    By Buzz Burrell
    From: Boulder
    Jun 14, 2008

    This is a classic, in part because of the great crack, but also because of the rating! If this were done today, it would be listed at 5.9. Back then, 5.10 was the hardest there was, so if you could climb it at all they gave it a 5.9, and if you did it first try it was listed at 5.8.
    By Dave Pilot
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 11, 2008
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    This is the quintessential wide crack primer. You can even get a couple of chicken wings in towards the top. Resist the urge to use facial features. I left the #4 Camalot in the car since I was just planning to do Empor. Luckily I had #3.5, #3, and #2 Camalots and a Trango MaxCam about the same size as the #3.5. The #2 worked well in a horizontal crack toward the top of the wide section and protected the weird mantel move getting out of the wide crack. Enjoy!
    By YDPL8S
    From: Santa Monica, Ca.
    Jul 11, 2008
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    First time I did it I got a big old Chouinard hex (8 or 9) stuck in there, had to rap to get it out. Gave me a big cramp in my foot.
    By Shawn Mitchell
    From: Broomfield
    Jun 15, 2009

    Sewn up? I'll tell you about sewn up! Take two #4 Camalots, and a #5! You could practically aid it. And if you accidentally kick the 5 on the way past, so it's tipped out and worthless, you'll still only be 6' or so above the top #4! Groveling in style!
    By Mikelsons Mikelsons
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 3, 2009

    I found the knee jams on this one to allow for some rest breaks. I walked a #4 Camalot up about 20 feet through the middle section of the crack. I found it rather strenuous and around the crux I tested a 3" cam by weighting it from a few feet above. Lieback the crux. After resting a moment, I tried this and cruised to the belay. This climb made a fun step up from 5.7 for me. Hard, but not unreadable, and in the solution there is great satisfaction.
    By SeanKuus Kuusinen
    From: Steamboat Springs
    Aug 28, 2010
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    The new guidebook for Boulder Canyon (Wolverine Publishing) gives this a 5.9 rating, which I generally agree with. For comparison, use the OW on pitch three of Central Pillar of Frenzy in Yosemite. It's signicantly easier (same size, but lower angle) and rated 5.8. (This is relevant if you consider Yosemite's routes and their ratings a benchmark).
    By NickinCO
    From: colorado
    Aug 29, 2011
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    My first off-width done today with 1 #4. Definitely wanted another one!!! I walked it up as far as I could which made the climbing a little harder, left it as high as I could and was still looking at a good 25'er. To do this climb safely, bring two #4s and even a #5 if you want to sew it up.
    By Baumer
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 24, 2012

    I brought a #6 because, well, I own one and I've only placed it once before. Found a great spot for it up high...but you can sew it up just fine without. Two #4's and a #5 will get you through the crux.
    By Andy Hansen
    From: Longmont, Colorado
    Oct 12, 2012
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    I wish there were more cracks like this in Bocan. I didn't think the OW difficulties were all too bad... felt pretty secure with only one #4 Camalot. I guess another and maybe a #5 would be nice, but if you're solid in the OW, it'll be fine with a single #4. The crux is a surprising few moves near the top of the crack at the exit....
    By Justin Brunson
    From: Broomfield CO
    Jun 10, 2013
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Do you guys tape up for this one?
    By Andy Hansen
    From: Longmont, Colorado
    Jul 6, 2013
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    It's not really worth the effort of tape in my opinion. There are good hand jams low and good knees in higher, and I mostly gastoned the outside edge while sliding my legs up. I'd say pants over shorts though.
    By rien WaNderlust
    From: Nederland
    May 31, 2015

    After a good chunk of the day running trad laps on Cob, I was ready for a wind down and figured this shorty would be my ticket. Started off just into the offwidth section, set my #4, made about two moves above it and started getting worked! Couldn't seem to get good feet...through in another #4, attempted next move and peeled. Stout f#cker! Managed to walk the #4 the remainder of the way and struggle ferociously to the topout. Definitely not a wind down kind of 5.8/9. Needless to say, agree with everyone's comments.... Fun. Indeed full on offwidth flare. Will make you sweat & maybe resort to foul language as well. Found the 5.10d to the right easier to my liking and the 11a to the right of that is a super fun micro-edgefest! Hard & reachy.
    By Cary Hayes
    Jan 6, 2017

    My uncle Cary Huston put this up in 1955, as a 22 year old kid-fresh out of the army's 10th Mtn. Division training school. He was among a handful of Boulder climbers pioneering the sport in those years, the likes of Kor, Carter, Northcutt, Hornbein, etc.... Cary explained to me over the years - "When we climbed back then, we had a hemp rope, lug soled boots, a single piece of sling wrapped around your waist for a harness, and the we didn't think about the need for intermediate protection." Amazing. This was essentially a free solo in the day and one of the hardest climbs ever put up at the time. Cary is not long for this world at age 83, but cheers to you UNC! You helped start it all.

    Cary Huston Hayes

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