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Crack Land
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Ancient Fright S 
Ancient Light T,S 
Ancient Sight T 
Art Of War, The S 
Blade T 
Crack Love T 
Crack Love II T 
Crack Love III T 
Enemy Within, The T 
Ghost Ship T 
Mystery Ship S 
Mystery Tour T 
Resurrection T 
Ship of Fools T 
Thus Us T 
War Horse T,S 

Mystery Ship 

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

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 70'
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Richard Rossiter and Pebby Johns, 2005
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 1,438
Submitted By: Richard Rossiter on Jul 31, 2005

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BETA PHOTO: Crack Land as viewed from the trail that runs alon...

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  • Description 

    The 3 crack climbs, Mystery Ship, Ship of Fools, & Mystery Tour (aka Crack Land Dihedral) begin from a common system and branch to individual lines after the first 30 feet. These 3 climbs were once organized (called Crack Land) under a sub-area for the Northeast Face (now renamed Crack Land). Begin about 10 feet left of Mystery Ship and follow vague, blocky terrain to where the lines diverge (5.6, gear to 1 inch, 30 feet). All 3 lines top out at the belay tree for Dragon Slayer. Lower off or rappel 90 feet from slings with rings. Extensive cleaning and trail work have been done to provide access to these excellent crack climbs.

    These routes are located on the NW side of the Third Tier of Avalon just left of Mystery Ship. This is actually the far right side of the NE Face, perhaps 100 feet right of Ancient Light.

    See Dawn on Hike to the Wall of the Goddess on the ledge above the second tier of Avalon. Continue around to the east past a gully full of boulders. Descend past two obvious dihedrals to a ledge that runs all the way across the northeast face beneath Ancient Light. Look for a bolt above a low roof, just left of the two dihedrals. The route is visible from here. Climb over the roof and follow the line of bolts to a sloping ledge with a 2-bolt anchor.


    QDs only. 6 bolts to a 2-bolt anchor. Lower off.

    Photos of Mystery Ship Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Sheri Kessler approaching the top of Mystery Ship.
    Sheri Kessler approaching the top of Mystery Ship.
    Rock Climbing Photo: At the crux.
    At the crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Mystery Ship starts about 20' left of Merlin's Eni...
    BETA PHOTO: Mystery Ship starts about 20' left of Merlin's Eni...

    Comments on Mystery Ship Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 23, 2016
    By Ron Olsen
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 12, 2005
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    A challenging route made more difficult by plentiful moss and lichen; the route could use a good scrubbing. The start is on a narrow ledge with a drop off; consider anchoring the belayer to the big pine tree since the first bolt is fairly high.

    I found the headwall at the fourth and fifth bolts to be much harder than 10a. I had to power layback a finger crack with small lichen-covered footholds and a long reach to the next good edge for the hands. Maybe there's an easier way, but I couldn't find it.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Aug 12, 2005
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Perhaps Richard has been taking into consideration the heavy down-grading that consensus has given the other area routes. I spoke about this with him a few weeks ago. Avalon is pretty soft not only relative to other areas, but also within the canyon. We all try to arrive at consensus for an area, and this discussion promotes that. As a guidebook author, Richard is in the uniquely difficult position of not only trying to arrive the right conclusion and keep a relativly [consistent] grading scale, but also trying to set the standard for what that scale is. Once the books are published (or routes published en-mass) then that is the standard...

    So, is the route hard at the grade, or only for Avalon?

    On F.A. of any particular route, especially when I am cleaning along the way, I try to take all factors into consideration and guess at what grade the route may some day end up at. The great thing about this as a living resource is that it can be updated...
    By Richard Rossiter
    Aug 13, 2005

    I am responding to the entries from Ron and Tony. For most of the routes on Avalon, I graded them according to the perceived difficulty on the actual first ascent. In some cases this has proven pretty close to current consensus. In other cases the routes were so tenuous and unstable, such as the Dominator, it was difficult to imagine the things all squeaky clean after 1000 ascents.

    Regarding the new routes on the Third Tier, I was trying to project into the future, when all the lichen and moss is worn away and all the beta is known and published. Ron may have a point though, that it is tiresome having the initial ratings endlessly downgraded by people who do not even set routes themselves. Time will tell if I have been too conservative on these last few routes.

    As for the routes being "dirty," I would say this. Most climbers have no idea how much effort, time and sheer manual labor is required to set up a single new route on a primitive and heavily [vegetated] crag such as Avalon, Sleeping Beauty or Lost Angel. Clearing brush, loose rock and building approach trails are enormous undertakings. Understand that I am not complaining. I could not even explain the deep pleasure and sense of creative fulfillment this work has provided for me over the years. I am just speaking out.

    If you think a route needs to be cleaned up, here is the solution: Go to McGuckin's or Southerlands Hardware and buy the following tools.

    1. Wire brush with a closed handle (to protect your knuckles)
    2. Weed puller, steel, wood grip
    3. Surgical tubing, 24 inches long (to blow debris out of cracks and crannies)
    4. Whisk Broom

    Then go clean the mutha. Be part of the solution or be a wanker.

    Yours truly, Richard Rossiter
    By Ron Olsen
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 14, 2005
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    Tony Bubb writes: "So is the route hard at the grade, or only for Avalon?"

    I fell off the crux three times. I found the route harder than all the other 10s I've done at Avalon, including Lust, Sex Slave, The Fool, Dominator, Marquis de Sade, Isle of the Dead, and Dead Again, all of which are rated 10b to 10d.

    To Richard and Bob: I realize how much work goes into establishing and cleaning a new route; I have thanked you both in person for all the new routes you have put up over the years. The vast majority of those routes were fun and clean the first time I did them. Some were a little dirty at first but have cleaned up with subsequent ascents. I remember doing Gish on Bell Buttress and I could see the rock dust from drilling the bolt holes, and found the route fun and adequately clean even though I was doing perhaps the third or fourth ascent. I also did The Horse, The Dead Zone, and Charon's Boat on Avalon within a week of their creation and found them fun and reasonably clean.

    However, a very few routes were so dirty when I climbed them that they weren't much fun: Prince Charmer on Sleeping Beauty, Justin Alf Memorial on Bell Buttress, Mephistophiles on Solaris, and Mystery Ship on Avalon.

    When a route is dirty beyond a certain point, it will not attract climber traffic and will never clean up and become popular, unless the line is so compelling that it begs to be climbed, like Dominator, or unless someone takes the time to clean it up.

    I'll take Richard's suggestion and buy a wire brush and whisk broom and keep them in my climbing pack when I'm doing a recently installed route, and try to clean the route if it needs it. I urge other climbers to do the same. Any climbers wanting to give something to the climbing community should apply a wire brush and whisk broom to the routes I mentioned above, and any other potentially good routes that need cleaning.
    By Ken Cangi
    From: Eldorado Springs, CO
    Aug 14, 2005

    Well said, Richard.
    By Richard Rossiter
    Aug 21, 2005

    Ron. Good man! I can use some help up there. The routes on the northeast side, such as Ancient Light, Mystery Ship, Charon's Boat and the new routes just being developed on the upper wall, need so much cleaning, it is more than I have time to do. You are right too, that if someone finds that a climb could use more cleaning, instead of writing about, bring some tools up and clean it. No one will complain about that!

    Yes, some new routes are coming up. I will post them as soon as I have completed setting them up and have had a chance to climb them.
    By Zach Allen
    Jun 9, 2006
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Apparently this route has cleaned up a bit. It's pretty clean now.

    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Jun 9, 2006
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    I ran into some folks on Saturday who said they backed off of it because of all of the moss and the like on it, so I cleaned the $#@% out of it on my way down (and got a booty biner too). I ripped of fist-sized chunks of junk and totally gave my partner a lichen shower... Anyway, it still needs a good stiff brushing, but it is a lot better.
    Anyone who knowingly goes up to do 'recently installed' routes should carry a broad brush and help clean them up.
    By Bruce Pech
    Aug 11, 2006
    rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

    Sporting runouts between the bolts and quite a few .10 moves. Although I may be biased because it was the end of the day and my tips were sore, I thought the crux headwall was more like .10c than .10a. And, while there's still lichen on the route, it *has* cleaned up nicely. Our thanks to everyone who's wire brushed it.
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Sep 24, 2006
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

    The first half is moderate, but the headwall was way harder than Ancient Light which is supposedly 10a, but may be just 9. The clip after the finger crack on the headwall was pretty hard. It was cold, so that may have contributed. On the other hand, my partner Luke TR'd it in his approach shoes, and made it look relatively easy.
    By GabeO
    From: New Haven, CT
    Jul 19, 2010

    The crux move appears to be height dependent. There is an excellent hold, but you simply have to be able to reach it. My wife, who's 5'4", could not.
    By slim
    Aug 2, 2010
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Ok climbing, but abyssmal bolting job. The 2nd bolt in the headwall fabricates a clipping crux with ledge fall potential. Really poorly thought out.
    By Brent Apgar
    From: Out of the Loop
    Sep 12, 2010

    The route has certainly cleaned up. I'd have to say that some of the grade issue may have to do w/ what Slim is talking about.

    I would have to agree in part that this route isn't bolted well (especially not for a leader pushing 5.10s). Although the climbing through the first 2/3s of the route isn't all that difficult compared to the crux, there is a very real potential for ground fall from near the 2nd bolt. Not sure why the bolts were configured as such, but don't let your guard down til you've got the 2nd bolt clipped.
    By BoulderCharles
    Sep 23, 2012

    Good route and worth doing. Bring some small pieces if you are worried about the spacing between bolts. IMHO, the bolting is fine. It's expensive and time consuming to put up bolts, so you really can't fault the guy for not adding bolts in areas where the climbing is moderate.
    By Tombo
    From: Boulder
    Oct 23, 2016

    Bottom is still a bit dirty but no big deal. I thought the bolting was weird/off when I was leading and was really surprised to see it was a Rossiter route as his are generally bolted perfectly, still not a deal breaker. Best thing about the route is you had to figure out the crux on the fly, no stepping to a good rest to once commited.

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