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Watchtower Crack 

YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 300'
Original:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Fahey, Jackson, Batty, & Bull - 1965
Page Views: 3,007
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jan 28, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (20)
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The start of an amazing climb.


Watchtower Crack is perhaps the most obvious line in all of Mount Arapiles: A wide crack that launches up a huge, soaring right-facing corner for over 100 meters. The climb is typically done in four half-ropelenth pitches. My partner and I did it in two rope stretchers (70m cord recommended). Described here as three.

P1: Begin at the base of the corner formed by the Watchtower and the right Watchtower Face. Avoid the chossy start up the chimney by climbing the slab to the right. Belay on a large ledge right of the corner..

P2: Head up the corner system to a belay on ledges/chockstones in the cave-like chimney.

P3: Crux. Continue up the chimney until pulling out of it to the nice corner. Pass a little rooflet and continue to the top. This pitch has some tricky, slick moves as the crack becomes difficult to jam.


Standard rack plus a few bolt plates (keep your eyes peeled for two or three carrots).

Photos of Watchtower Crack Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Wendy, at a cool belay on the Watchtower Crack as ...
Wendy, at a cool belay on the Watchtower Crack as ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Watchtower Crack, Mount Arapiles, 11/21/2010
Watchtower Crack, Mount Arapiles, 11/21/2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Watchtower Crack, Mount Arapiles, 11/21/2010
BETA PHOTO: Watchtower Crack, Mount Arapiles, 11/21/2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Watchtower Crack at Sunset.
Watchtower Crack at Sunset.
Rock Climbing Photo: Neale Brain
Neale Brain

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By Ryan Kelly
From: work.
May 19, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Great classic route, but was a bit of a letdown for me because of the large amount of hype about it. Certainly a striking line, one of the most noticable at Araps.

It's not hard for the grade, it'd be 5.7 at most traditional granite areas, and you most certainly don't need a huge rack of big gear. One #4 Camalot is plenty, and if you're solid at the grade you should be able to do three moves above a bolt and not need anything bigger than a #1.

I would link the first two pitches as described in the guide, up to the cubby in the chimney; it's not more than 5.5 to that point, and keeps it from being a 4/4 star route, IMHO. The final pitch, past the semi-hanging belay, really only has a few moves before it turns to not much more than a scramble. All in all, a really good route, but not ultra mega super classics, as many claim.
By Steve Skelton
From: Lyttelton, New Zealand
May 21, 2009

Watchtower is a 5.7, (16). It has been done in two pitches on double 60 meter ropes clipping nothing but fixed gear. It's a classic feature!
By david goldstein
May 21, 2009

While I disagree with RK's assertion about WC's rating, SS's comment is complete nonsense. I've never heard anyone else call WC less than Australian 16 (~YDS 5.8+), nor have I ever heard anyone say it was easy at that grade. Furthermore, if memory serves, I've done it in two pitches with a single 50M rope and anyone for whom the grade is a remote challenge would feel grossly underprotected relying on only fixed gear -- I don't think the first pitch has any while the crux remainder has perhaps five (probably fewer) fixed pieces, some of which are antiques.

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