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Castle Rock
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The Gill Crack 

YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

Type:  Trad, TR, 1 pitch
Original:  YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: John Gill, mid-1960s
Page Views: 10,714
Submitted By: Peter Franzen on Apr 25, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (74)
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Jenn on The Gill Crack.

Seasonal Closure MORE INFO >>>


To think that John Gill originally climbed this as a boulder problem in the '60s is incredible.

Bring your best tiplock crack technique! Thin tip jams with marginal feet lead up a seam for 30 feet to the anchors of 'Black Crack.' Brute force won't get you up this one, you need to be able to make the best out of some pretty thin jams.


'The Gill Crack' lies just to the right of 'The Black Crack' on the South face of Castle Rock.


For TR, set up 2 'draws by climbing 'The Black Crack' just to the left. Plenty of nuts are necessary to lead this one....

Photos of The Gill Crack Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Taking it to the Jug. Photo Nike.
Taking it to the Jug. Photo Nike.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Black Crack and The Gill Crack, showing the tw...
BETA PHOTO: The Black Crack and The Gill Crack, showing the tw...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Black Crack and The Gill Crack.
BETA PHOTO: The Black Crack and The Gill Crack.
Rock Climbing Photo: Practice aid climbing.
Practice aid climbing.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bouldering the Gill Crack.
Bouldering the Gill Crack.

Comments on The Gill Crack Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 9, 2016
By William McGehee
From: Choctaw, OK
Sep 26, 2003

Consider yourself accomplished merely to get off the ground here... I TR'd this one after leading Black Crack and had a grand old time getting 8' off the ground. I wish I was as good as JG.... :_(
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 16, 2004

Finger wrecker.
By Umph!
Oct 11, 2005

Brute finger (tip) force - pain is guaranteed. Feet are pretty damn bad. If it was another foot or two I simply wouldn't have made it - as it was I'm not too sure I can say that I did anyway. . . .
By Jason Haas
Mar 5, 2006

This is a great line and it is not the finger wrecker that everyone claims it to be. There is one painful fingerlock for the left hand, but overall, if you know how to jam, it is not any more painful than any other finger crack route. I bouldered this today, trying to live up to Gill's standards, downclimbing Black Crack after hitting the jug. I just couldn't bring myself to climbing it in boots and sans a pad. Even with technology, like sticky rubber on my shoes, Gill will always be better then me...
Jul 21, 2006

I agree with Jason. As far as finger cracks go, this thing really isn't painful, even without tape. If you are not too accustomed to climbing fingercracks, you may feel some pain. I have particular respect for Gill for doing lines like this in the style he did.
By Tony Yao
From: Boulder, CO
May 12, 2007

I suggest to use a pad to get off the deck before placing gear down low. You can get a good finger lock about 15 feet up, then place a bomber piece right at your chest. It will help you not fiddle with too much gear. I think I used a #0.4 Camalot there, and then yellow TCU after that.
By reboot
From: .
Jun 11, 2007

Definitely not a finger wrecker... I pinched my right pinky because I slotted my hand for a bomber jam, but my untaped fingers looked way better than my all-taped fingers on some S Platte crack.

There are many positive jams/locks on this route to place gear, but just remember that anything you place above your head will probably be a hold you'd want to use.
By Wyatt Payne
From: Littleton CO
Aug 14, 2007

Brute force sure doesn't hurt if you are not tall. I had to show up ready for a fight to make the redpoint. Watch how that yellow TCU gets placed, it is bomber in one orientation, and can rip in another, so pay attention to it if you don't have a great belayer. Great send, tape is your friend.
By Dave Cummings
From: Grand Junction, CO
May 4, 2009
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Finally got this one on the lead placing the gear. Super fun, one of the best short routes I have done. Bring a pad, a yellow C3 for near the top of the crack. Once you get the jug you only need a #3 Camalot, maybe some small wires, the pin and a #1 Camalot, extend the last couple pieces. Don't bother putting in the gear low, it probly won't keep you off the ground anyway. Just fire the moves to the only stance and place the yellow C3 above you for the last few moves to Black Crack. Go do it. Great climb. Props to Gill!
By Luke Childers
Sep 3, 2009
rating: 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a

This is the 1st line I tried when I arrived in Colorado back in 1998 or so and to say the least got kicked around, man, and I was or I thought I was a 5.12 climber at the time. One I got used to the rock I got this line on (TR) a few years later. I would not boulder it and a gear ripping fall would be worse than bouldering it I think. So it was the (TR) for me. It's a sweet heart of a line. All pain for me. Wait for fall or cooler temps to run this one!!! Great chunk of stone.
By Rich Farnham
Sep 6, 2009

I ripped a cam in a fall off this yesterday. I had an orange Metolius TCU in the last finger lock before the final "jug". The pin scar nature of this placement (narrow, deep crack) didn't really let the cam orient properly, and I think it levered out as I fell onto it.

I was really pumped and trying to make the final move over to Black Crack when I fell. A bomber #7 BD stopper ~4 feet below the TCU kept me off the ground (barely). When I went back up, the same cam placed much better in the second-to-last finger lock (easy to place once you are past it). I'm glad to say I never tested this placement the way I tested the first, but it looked much better.

This is a really fun climb, and requires faith in some really shallow locks.
By George K. Watson
From: Nederland, CO
Jul 7, 2010

Painful and hard as hell. The feet are on grease and the fingers scream. Hats off to JG.
By John Long
Aug 2, 2010

First time I went here (1976), Bachar solos the Gill Crack and downclimbs the Black Crack in like one minute. Shit, I think, that looks easy. It is, says Bachar, but it wasn't as easy as John made it look, not with my fat ass fingers. Lucky it's short. Still, I thought on-sighting the Acrobatic Overhanging was more perilous since it's harder (V4?) and has a far worse landing.

By adam brink
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 2, 2010

So cool to hear these stories, John. Keep them coming!
By Bob Rotert
Aug 12, 2011

I remember being up at Castle Rock alone one afternoon, it's the early eighties, I'm bouldering laps on The Gill Crack.

Alex Lowe shows up. "Damn, Bobby!" "You bouldering that thing?" he says.

Feeling good and a bit smug. "Yea" I say. It's not too bad as long as you get the top sequence of jams right. I give him the finishing right, left, right, jam sequence beta. This is so you end with right hand on the top hold and are able to reach out left with your left hand to Burnt Crack for the finish.

Alex steps up and proceeds to fire it. Comes down and says "Yea, you're right!"

"DAMN, Alex!"

Found memories of bouldering this, Final Exam, Acrobatic Overhang, etc. and then roping up and doing the Campaigner with Alex one day up at Castle Rock. Not only was he a great climber, he was a great guy, gracious, and great company.

Those were good days! Young and fit. Wish I could still boulder this thing now, and wish Alex was still with us.
By Peter
From: Tempe, AZ
Sep 12, 2011

11c/d if you know the beta?... I have to admit I led this one after numerous times on TR and figuring out the best way to place gear. So, it is probably a 12a grade for onsight, or something. Placed a 0.75 BD at the beginning, yellow C3 in the middle, and green C3 just before pulling what seems like the crux. I have not yet tried it, but probably bouldering it might be significantly easier than leading and placing gear. But you need two mats and a good spotter for it.
From: Boulder, Colorado
Sep 5, 2013

Wish it was longer!!!
By Evan Deis
Nov 9, 2013

As a not-5.12 climber, I can say that this thing hurts. Lots of potential to kick your belayer in the face, as it is hard from the moment you leave the ground.
By Richard Border
From: Boulder, CO
May 9, 2016

Not particularly painful at all, easy to protect with offset Mastercams (as long as you avoid plugging your jams). Placed three pieces total (not including the finish on Black Crack), with the third after hitting the jug at the top. Burly and fun.

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