OverviewIf Whitney-Gilman and Moby Grape are the 5.7 and 5.8 classics on Cannon, respectively, then Vertigo surely deserves this recognition in the 5.9 realm. Except the first, its five pitches offer sustained, stellar climbing, each with its own unique character - culminating with the famous/infamous Half Moon Crack offwidth. A mandatory short pendulum on the second pitch is the reason for the "A0" rating. Above the Half Moon Crack, it is possible to climb for several more pitches and top out, but these are loose and dangerous, and do not offer any interesting climbing; as a result, most parties rappel the route from this point.
If there is one drawback to Vertigo, it is the uncomfortable, small belay stances that predominate throughout the route. Only the first and last belays are on what can be properly termed ledges; all the rest are semi-hanging. Bear this in mind if you intend to climb this route in anything more than a party of two.
Getting ThereFollow directions for the approach to Moby Grape. As soon as you reach the base of the wall, you will see a steep, clean slab with a prominent, somewhat horseshoe-shaped overhang 100' or so off the ground. The first pitch of Vertigo begins at a blocky, grassy right-facing corner that marks the left side of the slab. At this point, you should be able to see the pendulum point on pitch 2 (a bolt with a bunch of slings on it), some distance above the overhang. Alternatively, walk another 100 feet or so left and uphill along the base of the cliff, and locate a prominent and somewhat wide left-trending crack with a big pod about halfway up. This is the first pitch of Union Jack (another popular 5.9 route at Cannon), and a second, slightly more difficult start to Vertigo.
Route DescriptionPitch 1: Climb the corner (5.5) or the first pitch of Union Jack (5.6-5.7) to a belay on a long, horizontal ledge. 100'
Pitch 2: Move up pockets and flakes into a prominent, slightly overhanging right-facing corner. Layback/uncling the corner (5.8), then follow thin flakes toward the pendulum bolt. Clip the bolt (long reach), lower about 15 feet and pendulum right into a left-facing dihedral. Make a few moves (strenuous 5.8) up the dihedral to a a small, awkward semi-hanging belay (gear anchor). 5.8 A0, 150'
Pitch 3: Climb a thin finger crack to a bulge, then make a committing move up to a small ledge with an assortment of fixed gear (one new bolt, one hangerless bolt with a slung Stopper, several old pins). 5.9, 60'
Pitch 4: Make a scary move out right around the arete, then follow a crack system up to a belay at the base of the Half Moon Crack (numerous old pitons - backup possible). 5.9. 100'. Can be combined with Pitch 3.
Pitch 5: Climb the curving offwidth (5.9 R, pin at the base), then continue up to a two-bolt anchor with one final, slightly tricky layback move (5.7-5.8) just below the top. 5.9R, 60 feet.