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Unsorted Routes:

The Sperm 

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

   
Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 350', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Brad Shaver and Bob Mitchell. FFA, Shaver and Grover Cable in 1976
Season: Dry
Page Views: 7,100
Submitted By: Rob Dillon on Oct 16, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (41)
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The end of pitch 2.

Description 

This is the obvious left-to-right-angling crack on the slabby left end of the North Face. A cross between classic Looking Glass eyebrow-wandering and the more strenuous crack climbs to the right.

Begin by climbing up to, and then through, the fallopian chimney that marks the start. Thinking that this squeezer is 5.9 will only get you in trouble elsewhere. 5.8, 80'.

P2: 80 feet of right-leaning crack ends at a pair of bolts. This and the first pitch are easily combined; 5.9.

P3: Inobvious moves in the vicinity of a short vertical crack (5.9+) lead to easier ground up and left. Belay from bolts. 100'

P4: Standard 'Fields of Lichen Growing Wild'; eyebrow version. 5.7, 100'.

Protection 

The usual stuff will suffice. Bring walkoff shoes.


Photos of The Sperm Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Following the sweet handcrack pitch #2.
Following the sweet handcrack pitch #2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Coming up the chimney.
Coming up the chimney.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Sperm from the ground
BETA PHOTO: The Sperm from the ground
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climbers on the third pitch
Unknown climbers on the third pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch two hand jams
Pitch two hand jams
Rock Climbing Photo: Stef getting squeezed
Stef getting squeezed
Rock Climbing Photo: climbers in the first pitch squeeze
climbers in the first pitch squeeze

Comments on The Sperm Add Comment
Show which comments
By Danny Inman
From: Arvada
Apr 23, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

P1 and P2 are straight forward. I ended up doing P3 and P4 as one long pitch which worked out well. Judging from the lichen on P3 and P4 these pitched are seldom done, but are worth while.
By JacobD
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Aug 3, 2007

First pitch didn't feel like 5.8, It felt more like 5.6. The next two pitches are considerably harder.
By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From: London (sort of)
Sep 8, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

This was my first real chimney of any kind and it was a hard lead for me, but about half way up I kinda figured it out and actually enjoyed the last 20 feet or so. Didn't know the grade before I started so I won't speculate on what it felt like... all I know is that the next one will feel easier.

Lead the second pitch as well but my calves were burning from LK the day before... at about the half way point I was actually wishing that it was more vertical!
By JohnWesely
From: Red River Gorge
Sep 25, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

The chimney was by far the hardest part. That thing thrashed me.
By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Oct 18, 2011

Freaky Deaky fun stuff all around!! First pitch is super straight forward but you better harness your inner Santa Clause because its all Chimney!! Second is pretty classic slab/crack climbing, quality stuff but the less then vertical pumps your calfs out. Third/fourth link up is fun and exposed off the belay and slackens up as you reach the eyebrows above. At the tree ledge we walked up right and rap'd off the two trees with fix slings down to the bolted belay on "Deep Throat" and then to the deck.

  • two 60m ropes will do just fine if you want to save yourself a walk off*
By Kyle Kimball
From: Asheville, NC
Sep 15, 2013
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Second pitch Definitely felt like the crux to me. First pitch is just so fun though, kind of wish it was easier to do it by itself. Third pitch wasn't that great though once you get past the super fun moves right off the belay.

Also, the beta page should be changed- there aren't any bolts on the third pitch.
By tinseytr4
Jun 22, 2014

Climbed The Sperm to the top on 6/21/14. There are no bolts at the top of pitch 3. Instead, you can build a three piece anchor in horizontals at a small ledge where there is an old, broken, 1/8inch bolt. Pitch 3 is the best part of the climb with intricate moves in the crack right after the belay at the start of the pitch. Clip a fixed pin and then angle left and up to the previously mentioned belay stance. The slab upper portion (pitch 4) is not well protected after the anchor, but the climbing is easy. You could link pitches 3 and 4, but rope drag would be bad.
By smurray47
Feb 13, 2017

Wanted to add a comment since there hadn't been any for a while. First scoped this climb out in March of 2016 and it looked wet, so didn't get on it. In both cases it had at least 2 days since last rain.

Came back in Feb of 2017 and it still looked wet, but decided to give it a go anyway.

P1: The opening (wide) bit of the chimney was QUITE challenging due to its soaked nature. The squeeze section of chimney didn't matter so much that it was wet, but was just a struggle overall. I don't believe the commenter who said P1 feels like 5.6. I suspect a troll. Even my partner who was following was screaming.

P2: I accidentally linked this with P1 because I'm terrible at judging distances, and spied the fixed anchor. Top of P1 has no fixed anchor. P2 crack was ALSO wet, although the face was dry. The face is quite slabby though, so you need the crack to keep steady most of the way. This felt more technically challenging than P1, but less physically strenuous. Could rap from top of P2 with two ropes.

P3: Best pitch of the route by far. Was the only dry pitch. Fun eyebrow moves go up and right, then eventually follow path of least resistance back left. Best belay is to the RIGHT of the big ledge where the fixed anchor used to be. As other comments have said, there is no longer any fixed anchor on top of P3. The horizontal a meter or so to the right of a fixed hex (which in turn is a meter or so to the right of the old anchor) will allow you to build a bomber anchor and put you in good position for the final pitch.

P4: Dry section of 15-20 feet leads to a runout (maybe another 15-20 feet) that culminates with some sketchy wet moves to finish off the climb. This is the worst protected pitch, although its also the easiest. Don't pass up any pro placements here, because you won't get much later on.

Descent Beta: When you top out P4 go to the obvious trail on the right. As of Feb 2017 the fixed slings and rings looked solid, but you need two ropes to get down rapping. We took the descent trail, which goes up from the slings maybe 20 yards, then connects with a trail going left and down the mountain. Trail doesn't seem to be used much so is quite overgrown, will involve crawling through some vegetation and sliding on your bum down leaf piles for quite a while.

Gear Beta: No need for anything bigger than a #3 C4 (can't even remember if I used one of those). First three pitches protect beautifully. Don't link first two pitches like I did, rope drag was terrible. Small stuff comes in handy for tight eyebrows.

Overall recommendation: wait until its dry (maybe summertime), otherwise not really worth it for the one quality pitch.

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