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KyleJ

Best routes to learn to climb cracks in the NW

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I think one could probably quibble about the order of the first 4, but they're all pretty mellow.

 

I forgot to mention a few more good ones:

 

1. first pitch of jap gardens

2. first pitch of thin fingers

3. Tatoosh

4. first 3 pitches of davis-holland

 

There are also a bunch of recently cleaned moderates out towards Private Idaho that are fun, although not quite as cool.

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Oh, and I think that Bill's rant about safety is good cautionary information, but probably applies more to the "rock" that he likes to climb in oregon. Granite protection is more straightforward and reliable.

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If you make it up to Index, there are some great intro crack climbs, in order of difficulty:

 

1. Godzilla

2. Breakfast of Champions

3. Princely Ambitions

4. Toxic Shock

5. Sagitarious

6. Rattletale

7. Zoom

 

That would be a pretty great week if you're breaking into the 10s.

 

haha - you would put someone on Zoom who was "breaking into 10s"?!

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Well, it is at the end of the list for a reason. :-)

 

It's really more of a face-climb. It's too fun to leave it off.

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If you make it up to Index, there are some great intro crack climbs, in order of difficulty:

 

1. Godzilla

2. Breakfast of Champions

3. Princely Ambitions

4. Toxic Shock

5. Sagitarious

6. Rattletale

7. Zoom

 

That would be a pretty great week if you're breaking into the 10s.

 

jesus boadman, he said he wants to learn to NOT be intimidated by cracks, and this is the list you give the poor fellow?!?

 

may I humbly suggest the following:

 

-Ultra Brutal;

 

-Great Northern Slab;

 

-Aries perhaps;

 

-Taurus rings a bell... and yes,

 

-Toxic Shock is a good teacher.

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I agree, don't jump on that hard stuff- if someone is just learning crack climbing, one needs to start out on at least two grades below what they sport climb.

And as mentioned above, having a mentor to help out is worth a lot. It has been said before, being a good second partner on cracks is beneficial and would shorten the learning curve. I've also heard that one's experience level is measured in the "miles" spent on crack climbing, that's miles - not feet.

So my advice is find some true and easy 5.6- 5.7 such as "burgers and fries" at Squamish.

:tup:

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I agree, don't jump on that hard stuff- if someone is just learning crack climbing, one needs to start out on at least two grades below what they sport climb.

And as mentioned above, having a mentor to help out is worth a lot. It has been said before, being a good second partner on cracks is beneficial and would shorten the learning curve. I've also heard that one's experience level is measured in the "miles" spent on crack climbing, that's miles - not feet.

So my advice is find some true and easy 5.6- 5.7 such as "burgers and fries" at Squamish.

:tup:

Good advice up to the "Burgers and Fries" bit...you won't learn to crack climb there...at Squamish try Cat Crack (Neat and Cool area), Rohnin's Corner and Pixie corner/Davey Jones Locker . All easily top roped too. All over the smoke bluffs there is great moderate crack...get a Maclean guide and get at 'er

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Thanks for your Squamish input bstach - for sure the Smoke Bluffs are full of good stuff for the beginning crack climber, eh. The thing with B&F is, it allows one to place pro and fool around without any great stress, your picks are excellent. It sounds like KyleJ wants to start on some easy stuff - and Squeemish is the place, mostly top rope-able and not intimidating.

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The OP didn't mention grade, but I think you'd be hard pressed around here to do better than a trip to Royal Columns in the Tieton. Lots of cracks, though the nature of the rock sometimes makes protection a little more thoughtful than straight granite cam plugging: its not uncommon for the crack to open up more on the inside, and your best placement may be a hex.

 

Day one, do all the 5.7's at the crag, you'll do at least 15 pitches of all sizes. I you can still move, do all the 5.8's the next day. I guarantee First Blood will be educational. All in all, an excellent compact crag for crack school, and I think the overall crack mileage really matters if you're learning. Pick the Index plums when you've got the skills.

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The OP didn't mention grade, but I think you'd be hard pressed around here to do better than a trip to Royal Columns in the Tieton. Lots of cracks, though the nature of the rock sometimes makes protection a little more thoughtful than straight granite cam plugging: its not uncommon for the crack to open up more on the inside, and your best placement may be a hex.

 

Day one, do all the 5.7's at the crag, you'll do at least 15 pitches of all sizes. I you can still move, do all the 5.8's the next day. I guarantee First Blood will be educational. All in all, an excellent compact crag for crack school, and I think the overall crack mileage really matters if you're learning. Pick the Index plums when you've got the skills.

 

Tieton & Vantage cracks have never really felt like crack climbing to me. I feel like I'm pulling and standing on face-holds as often as I'm jamming. The quality of the rock is also pretty suspect, which might not be the greatest for a beginner learning to place pro.

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I haven't found the rock quality to be suspect at Royal Columns, and I still think it offers the most concentrated collection of moderate crack climbs I've encountered in the NW, but YMMV.

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I haven't found the rock quality to be suspect at Royal Columns, and I still think it offers the most concentrated collection of moderate crack climbs I've encountered in the NW, but YMMV.

 

Agreed. Great rock, lots of cracks from 5.4 to 5.10c. Good rock quality (not granite, but way above Vantage!)

:tup:

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All very good advice regarding Vantage vs Tieton. The difference being, Vantage basalt cracks are fairly smooth and tapered, whereas Tieton has a rougher texture. This translates to the "gear" holding much better at 'T' - the cams have a tendency to walk when wiggled at Vantage, and true enough desert basalt climbers favor hexes. For novice crack climbing/learning - be very suspect.

::skull::

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Another vote for the Tieton, especially Royal Columns and the Bend. Theres just a much wider variety of placements there. Placing gear at Index or Squamish will for the most part seem very straightforward after putting up 10 - 20 routes at the Tieton. And I hope you're a fast healer if you start out on First Blood!

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Funny enough, but after probably a hundred trips to Index, I've never been to Tieton or Vantage. Hard to pass up the best crack climbing in the state just an hour away. Been to Trout Creek, which compares to Index in its crack climbing, but not really.

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Trout Creek is the best crack climbing in the region, and really the only place where you will be forced to crack climb decently well if you want to get up stuff. Index has a lot of face holds, slots, flakes, and knobs compared to many granite cliffs. Lots of folks go to the (other) 'creek' with little experience and have a great time learning the basics, and often end up quickly working through the grades. If you really want to become good at climbing cracks, I'd definitely suggest Trout.

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I'd have to agree regarding Trout. After climbing at all the crags mentioned except Index, Trout was the purist crack climbing experience, hands down (or hands in - in this case). But I found the grades hard for beginners. My partner who was new to crack climbing even found Gold Rush a bit challenging.

 

For the new crack leader I'd 2nd Royal Columns at Tieton. It has a great range of fun crack. That partner mentioned earlier even lead a couple easier routes at Royal Columns and she enjoyed them!

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If you make it up to Index, there are some great intro crack climbs, in order of difficulty:

 

1. Godzilla

2. Breakfast of Champions

3. Princely Ambitions

4. Toxic Shock

5. Sagitarious

6. Rattletale

7. Zoom

 

That would be a pretty great week if you're breaking into the 10s.

 

jesus boadman, he said he wants to learn to NOT be intimidated by cracks, and this is the list you give the poor fellow?!?

 

may I humbly suggest the following:

 

-Ultra Brutal;

 

-Great Northern Slab;

 

-Aries perhaps;

 

-Taurus rings a bell... and yes,

 

-Toxic Shock is a good teacher.

 

How about the Lizard at GNS area? I always thought that was the funnest route over there.

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Lizard at GNS is great fun, but it's not continuous. There is one mandatory fist jam on p1. P2 you can get by with some liebacking. P3 is flaring chimney. P4 is undercling/lieback to hands. All pitches are really short. In fact, you can TR the entire thing with 2 60s on the chains at a belay up on GNS.

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I haven't found the rock quality to be suspect at Royal Columns, and I still think it offers the most concentrated collection of moderate crack climbs I've encountered in the NW, but YMMV.

 

Be honest, do you fall on gear there? I've only climbed there a couple of times, but I definitely was not falling.

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I have. Never whipped, but took a couple of short falls on Orange sunshine near the top. The gear is great :tup: The easier cracks tend to take wider gear as well.

 

I think Offwhite mentioned, the nature of the cracks are not particularly cam friendly, but very hex / nut friendly.

 

 

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Some great input here on where to learn crack climbing, but one I've not seen mentioned yet is the new Vertical World gym in downtown Seattle. They have 4 cracks up there in most of the important sizes. There is a perfect handcrack like Classic Crack in Leavenworth...but better and longer. All the cracks are full wall height, which is around 45-ish feet.

 

There is an off hands crack of about 1.25 inches. It's green camalot sized. You can't get your hands inside, you have to to use ringlocks or finger stacks.

 

Next is the finger crack. Continuous perfect fingers for 45 feet...it may well be the best finger crack in the state.

 

Last but not least is a layback flake, tons of fun.

 

No, you can't lead them, but for practicing your technique, they are perfect. I've never been able to master ringlocks, but after 5 trips up that crack at Vertical World...I'm getting a lot better. It's a great place to spend a rainy day on the weekend, which is all we seem to be getting lately.

 

Oh, the lead walls are very cool too, if you don't mind leading on plastic. Those 55 foot walls are tall! When you fall up there climbing across the ceiling it's some serious air time.

 

When I was in jtree for xmas I saw a guy lead Orphan (5.9 offwidth) in hand jammies

 

I'd always thought those things were a joke as only beginners wore them. He was very good, and said he wore them up the nose. I bought a pair on a whim and like them a lot. The savings in tape and convenience alone make them practical. They make that crack at Vertical World super easy, though people will laugh at you. But screw them. I've not given them a good workout on real rock yet, but I suspect they will be great.

Pictures here:

seattle vertical world gym on wordpress blog

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