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The Black Crack 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 5,251
Submitted By: Peter Franzen on Apr 25, 2001

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BETA PHOTO: The Black Crack and The Gill Crack, showing the tw...

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  • Description 

    This obvious crack ascends the South Face of Castle Rock just to the right of Tongo and Atlas Shrugged. Good hand jams and a few awkward moves up the large crack lead to a left-facing dihedral 20 feet off the ground. Look for the fixed pin under the roof (use a long runner to clip it to avoid nasty rope drag) and finish to the right after pulling over the roof on large holds. There are 2 bolts at the top (only 1 is shown in the Rolofson guidebook).


    An assortment of medium cams (up to a #2 Camalot), and quickdraws for the anchor and a fixed pin near the top.

    Photos of The Black Crack Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: The Black Crack and The Gill Crack.
    BETA PHOTO: The Black Crack and The Gill Crack.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Ross.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Awkward movements on this one.
    Awkward movements on this one.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Fun climb.
    Fun climb.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Beginning of the crux.
    Beginning of the crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Moving out onto the face.
    Moving out onto the face.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Going through the crux (for all of us at least)--t...
    Going through the crux (for all of us at least)--t...

    Comments on The Black Crack Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 15, 2017
    By S. Kimball
    Jun 23, 2002

    By the time I pulled my right wrist out of the green pigeon shit, both deeply embedded in Black Crack's horizontal fist crack, I was starting to get a little shakey. But when I had to stem a few moves off of the 5.12 Gill Crack then make a head scum, I knew this was a pretty hard 5.9. S.Kimball.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jul 18, 2002

    This route only has one star, but I think it deserves a higher rating. The crux for me was pulling out of the first crack and onto the face, before pulling over to the chains. Just look out left on the slab/face, because there are some feet, and rock on over to a good stance under the pin. I'd suggest slinging the pin too, as the eyehole definitely appears cracked. Every bit as fun as Curving Crack. JGH
    By Ryan Olson
    May 12, 2004

    This was a cool climb and my first 5.9 lead. The gear was all good although I did crap my pants a little. A #3 Camalot fits perfectly in the vertical crack a few feet above the end of Gill Crack.
    By Cody Munger
    From: Carson City, NV
    May 20, 2006

    Pretty stiff for a 5.9. I found the Yellow Spur and the first pitch of Tagger to be much easier than this. Though I agree that none of the moves are harder than 5.9, it threw me off because it was overhanging, and I wore myself out trying to get on to the face from the top of Gill Crack. The pin is good. I took a whipper on it while trying to get over the little corner at the top there.
    By Ken Trout
    From: Golden, CO
    Sep 12, 2008
    rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

    Black Crack's 5.9 rating might be a relic from the past when it was shorter, instead of grade inflation. Anchor locations have changed since the seventies. Guidebook authors don't seem to have noticed. Black Crack used to end at a bolt, just before the crux head-scum. An empty hole is still visible.

    Steeper and harder than the last pitch of Outer Space on the Bastille.
    By Greg Collins
    Nov 11, 2008

    Definitely a 5.9+ move in there getting from the fist crack to the left-leaning crack and slab! Different ways to do it - without giving it away straight in jamming not necessarily the best option.

    Also, fixed nut between this and the pin when I did it (seems really solid), but the eye of the pin is cracked. Can protect above it with a number 1 Camalot (or even higher with a 0.75 which I had to do as I looked at the #1 on the ground). Would recommend due to the fact that if the pin cracks through and the fixed nut pulls when your rocking right on the final moves you could conceivably ground out.
    By Matt Swartz
    From: Los Angeles, CA
    Apr 29, 2009

    A good climb, my first 5.9 gear lead. The pin is partly broken, not sure how many more falls its gonna hold. I was able to get a gray alien in to protect the crux. Watch out for the sharp edge that you pull over. Once you finish the climb better to pull the rope through your gear to avoid unnecessary wear on your rope. Cleaning will be harder but, I managed to do it so you can too.
    By Rich Farnham
    Jun 2, 2010

    I replaced the broken pin today. The old one had seen plenty of falls, and I wanted to get it out before the other eye cracked. There is a new angle in the same place. It's bomber, so fall away!

    When I took the pin out, I did evaluate whether it could just become a placement for clean gear. Without getting into the details, it is not a viable spot for anything but a pin, so I put a pin back in.

    A local climber (not me) has put a ton of work into cleaning up this area. He cleaned out all the broken glass he could get, and spread wood chips. This is a vast improvement, and makes a nice spot to hang out.
    By Kat A
    From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
    May 27, 2011

    Thanks to the local climber(s) who placed wood chips down and cleaned up the area. We were there this evening, and it was quite clean. This is a fun route. It helps to anticipate "old school" ratings when climbing at Castle Rock - not like many of the other BoCan ratings.
    By WadeM
    From: Golden, Co
    Mar 30, 2012

    All I used was two #2s, 1 #3, long runner, and the anchor. Got owned on Gill Crack afterwards!
    By Evan Deis
    Jul 3, 2012

    Pretty old school 5.9+. Good gear.
    By Eli Helmuth
    From: Ciales, PR
    Sep 1, 2013
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Sweet route in its current state. Somewhat slick like all of lower Castle Rock so make sure it's cool. Very solid RPs fit in below the pin, and you can place them from the shoulder scum or after clipping the pin if you're less of a fan of compression hardware. Just wish this route was longer at the 10a grade.
    By The Blueprint Part Dank
    From: FEMA Region VIII
    Jul 7, 2014

    All the moves on this route are 5.9 at the hardest. However I'll admit that on an onsight attempt, it feels much more like solid 5.10, simply because the beta is somewhat difficult to figure out and the steepness of the route starts the pump clock and doesn't let up until the chains. So by the time you figure out the beta, you're way pumped and the jugs up top (and they ARE jugs) feel more like sloping crimpers.
    By Savvy Buik
    From: Chicago, IL
    Apr 6, 2017

    Awkward climbing after the horizontal crack. It turns into what feels like sport climbing, and although none of the moves are difficult, it can be a little tricky on the first go. Just like any route, once you figure out the beta it's a lot easier.
    By Brett Bessen
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 15, 2017

    There is a now mixed 5.11 extension called "The Black Crack Matters." Fun movement with a slabby crux just above the first bolt. Two bolts and some small gear (0.3 - 0.5). Apparently, a black tricam, which I didn't have, protects the getting to the first bolt well.

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