Over the past dozen years or so climbing in Zion, somehow I have consistently ignored the second pitch of Cherry Crack despite climbing most of the other off-width routes not just in Zion, but in the southwestern deserts at large. For some reason the second pitch of Cherry Crack has been labeled with a certain level of mysticism as to how difficult it might or might not be. The majority of this can be attributed to the fact that most folks climbing on the Cerberus wall to begin with are Indian Creek type craggers versus true big wall/alpine trad climbers. This fact would equate to very little off-width experience for the typical leader who is taking on the first pitch of Cherry Crack which sees a ton of traffic by Zion standards. That being said, the second pitch is truly full on in your face in the #4 C4 range. In fact to lead it comfortably, I prefer six of them(!) along with two #5’s, but I have lead it with just four. The difficulty of this crack is mostly due to being too small for knees and too large for fists for most regular sized climbers. It requires creative thinking to lead it well in addition to keeping your large gear placements out of the way of your feet and hands. Strickly, Forsell and Egerton established Cherry Crack in 1979.
According to Alex McAfee’s old guide book, “Zion Rock, The Finest Climbs of Zion National Park”, he labels Cerberus as “cragging in Zion doesn’t get better.” The Falcon Guide calls the Cerberus wall base climbs the “best selection of one pitch free climbs” of Zion Canyon. One thing I can attest to is that access cannot get easier (well unless you are stuck riding the tourist shuttle in season). Cerberus is just 200’ off the park road behind the Big Bend Overlook pullout.
Whether in the winter when you can drive through the main canyon or during the tourist season where you will be forced to use the bus, park or exit for Cerberus at the Big Bend bus stop. The main selection of routes are west facing and start right above the parking area with the Cave Route on the far left. Cherry Crack is the most obvious pure splitter of the group: no corners involved for the lower 200’ on the wall. Look for the blank face right of several corners (Fat Hedral, etc) and you will see the wide splitter that makes up the second pitch. The trail to the base of the wall is easily found walking south from the parking area.
Route DescriptionCherry Crack, 175’+/-, 5.10+
1st Pitch- 20m- 5.9/ This is one of the easilst and thus more popular single pitch climbs in Zion. Few climb the second pitch of Cherry Crack. Start up the left angled chossy crack with a small tree offering shade for the belayer. It straightens out to a pure hands splitter to chains. Single rack with a couple of 2” pieces and you are set on this first pitch.