I first got a glimpse of Crabby Appleton from the summit of Magic Mountain. Someone was climbing the final pitch at the time and it looked quite impressive from my perspective on Magic. Like most climbs however, it looked much more impressive from afar than it was actually climbing it. Crabby Appleton’s popularity probably has more to do with where it is located next to the south fork of Pine Creek Canyon, most notably across from the feverishly popular Cat in the Hat.
Harrison and Van Betten established Crabby Appleton in 1982. The first pitch involves a variety of options that blend in with the approach. The approach for this route takes longer than the climb. The climb itself can be done in four fairly quick pitches. The descent is a walk off except for possibly rapping the upper part of the approach. The first pitch can be a bit tricky to find and blends in with the second really. I went up a bit early no doubt resulting in a long bit of run out, but on easy ground, to reach a discontinuous crack system that makes up the rest of the route. The third pitch is fairly non-descript. The fourth pitch involves fun climbing (5.9 variation) via a large arch that you pull out of before its apex. The final pitch (5.9+) is the gem of this route, following a nicely varnished crack through a small roof on solid varnished jugs.
(The approach is possibly the crux) Park at Pine Creek trail head off of the loop road. Hike towards Mescalito. Take the south Pine Creek fork to the left (south) side of Mescalito just like you are making for Cat in the Hat. Proceed to where you would normally ascend to your right to the base of Cat in Hat. Cross the wash to the south and bushwhack your way up into the right side of the obvious gully between Magic Mountain and Juniper Peak. Stay to the right, hugging the wall, to avoid the worst of the bush. Eventually the canyon narrows and can be wet. Ascend a small 4th class rib as the canyon really narrows. Continue up into a cave created by a huge boulder (chockstone if you would rather). Exit from underneath it to the left through a small man sized hole. Pass a tree with a rappel sling (2010-can use for return) and continue up the canyon until it terminates. Either scramble up a whitish right facing short corner (5th) before the end of the gully or continue up the gully to the end and traverse back right on better rock. Move right onto the large treed ledge/plateau. Suit up below obvious huecos.
550’+/-, 5 Pitches, 5.9+
1st and 2nd Pitches- 220’- 5.7/ Follow the huecos up and either take the whitish roof above via a crack or traverse way out right to the main crack system. I took the roof which led to easy face climbing, but run out terrain, as I made a long upward traverse out right to meet up with the main crack that makes up the next two pitches of Crabby Appleton. Gear anchor in a comfortable recess as I recall, but there might have been an old rappel anchor out on the wall as well.
3rd Pitch- 120’- 5.8/ Exit left of the scoop and rejoin the crack above your belayer. Follow it up to an anchor below a large left facing corner forming an arch.
4th Pitch- 100’- 5.9/ The original line followed easy ground straight up avoiding the arch. But the much better variation is to follow the arch (easier than it looks) and then exit out right via a small mantel about 20’ below the apex of the arch. Very good rock to this point. Easy climbing follows mossy cracks to a huge horizontal break in the wall. Gear anchor.
5th Pitch- 130’- 5.9+/ I did not feel the + on this pitch, but that is what the FAers have it at. Follow the horizontal ledge out right for 20’ to an obvious hand crack. Follow this stellar crack up and over a small roof section to the top of the wall.