Two of the better formations for pure crack climbing in Castle Rocks State park are Bracksiek’s Pillar and Comp Wall, located side by side in what Bingham’s local guidebook calls the South Hills area. Comp Wall has its dihedral section of routes along with some stellar cracks on its main wall (southwest). Bracksiek’s better crack climbs are located all over the formation.
Class Crack 5.10a***, is a unique two pitch trad route on the south wall and my favorite on this feature. The position and exposure start of its second pitch atop a detached tower via a 5.8/9 splitter, makes it a classic to be sure. The east wall offers more moderate climbing and therefore where you will find more people. Alpinista Sista, 5.9***, is a popular two pitch with a fun and exposed (but well protected) mantel on its second pitch. Several other 5.8’s and 5.9’s litter the east wall. Two quiter mostly bolted routes that will be less popular due to their length is Mano Izquierda, 5.10a***, and Chocolate Rib, 5.10a***, at the left end of the east face. Both are tall routes that require an approach pitch Mano is fully bolted and you can place a few horizontals on Chocolate. They are both good routes. Penny’s Lane, 5.10a**, offers a short off-width finish that leads directly to the “window/hole” feature directly on the summit named the "eye". The north wall is popular in its own right with several long climbs that lead straight to Bracksieck’s true summit. Eye-Full Tower, 5.9***, is a popular bolted line on the north face that leads to the same feature and fixed rap as Penny's. Eye Gear Sanction, 5.10b**, is a good trad route at the left end of the slot on the north face and one of my favorites on the entire formation.
You can make the approach to Bracksiek’s tower from either parking trailhead at Castle Rocks State Park in about 30 minutes. If parked at the further in trailhead, follow the main trail (road) to the right heading for the South Hills area. Pass the sign for True Grit and keep your eye open for the signed Bracksiek’s trail on your left. This trail circles the pillar. We have seen snakes on this trail.
Mano Izquierda- 240’-5.10a***/ Fully bolted route at the left end of the formation. Unlike many two pitch routes at the City, this one cannot be combined unless you simul-climb. There are three fixed rap stations enroute. The first pitch (5.8) leads up and over a bulge and onto easy slab to a fixed belay/rap below the main headwall above. Continue up relatively easy terrain passing a mid-fixed rap. The crux is a short steep section above a horizontal. Positive steep movement through this leads to a lower angled finish. The route is over bolted a bit. You can skip clips or take a dozen draws. Make three raps with a single rope to the ground but more than likely you will want to climb its neighbor to the right (Chocolate Rib) at the same grade and therefore stop at the bottom anchor. Dow
Chocolate Rib-215’- 5.10a***/ Shares the same approach pitch with Mano. I enjoyed this route more than Mano. It is slightly mixed (two horizontal pieces), not as over bolted and the feature is more unique. Follow the bolts up and right as they lead you up a rounded arete (rib). You get a few horizonal pieces in to supplement the bolts. Near the top you are basically hugging the arete as it narrows. Fun slab movement. No real identifiable crux at the grade, definitely more 5.9 than 5.10a. This route as well has a mid-rap on it which you need with a 70m rope. Maybe misses rapping back to where you started by inches. From the mid rap you do make it all the way to the ground, so just two raps with a single 70m. Local guide lists the route as 250’ but it is not even close to that, it does not top out like Mano does. Few small pieces. Ten draws. Dow
L’il Buckeroo- 5.8*/
Alpinista Sista- 5.9***/ Advertised as a three pitch climb, but it is best done in two. Says mixed, but turns out to be almost all bolted. This route does not deserve three stars by any stretch, but it is a decent warm up for some of the better routes on Bracksieck’s. The first pitch offers one or two trad placements if you need them, but it is mostly bolted. It starts right in the alcove on the lower east face, left of a bolted arête that is not in Bingham’s book (2013). Follow the bolts to a comfortable belay on a ledge with rap rings. The second and third pitches should be combined. The second is just a short 5th class section that I avoided placing any pro on to avoid potential rope drag. Go up and past the next fixed station, then on to the fun feature on this climb, an exposed full mantle over a small roof. Follow bolts to the top anchor via nice jugs. With double 60m ropes, I made it all the way to the ground in one rap. Dow
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds- 5.10d*/
Coo Coo Cachoo- 5.9***/
Penny's Lane- 150'-5.10a**/ This route actually still starts on the east face right before you turn the corner for the north face This is a tall single pitch to the very summit of Bracksieck. The first 2/3rd does not offer much. It is not climbing at the grade (more like 5.7-8) and is quite dirty. The final off-width pitch is stellar if you like off-widths. C4 #4’s seemed to work fine as I recall. Knowing me (always seeking out wide cracks), I probably had a #5 along as well. It was kind of a heel-toe and arm bar thing. The summit offered a cool vista for belaying. There is a window hole (the “Eye”) you could sling for your belay if you trusted it, otherwise build a belay in the floor with large gear. Rap Eye-Full Tower which is just a meter or two out of sight, climbers right, at top of the north wall. Dow
Eye Gear Sanction- 100’-5.10b**/ Fun trad route, but not even close to 5.10b at many climbing destinations. Climb the slightly flared crack at left end of the wall (just left of the slot leading to other, more popular routes). The local guide mentions “funky” flared, but I don’t get that, it was barely flared. Takes good gear, a hand jam or two, good fingers and as most always at the City, juggy features all around to assist. Bomber gear placements for the competent trad leader. The last half is run out 5th class jugs and face to the shared anchor on the ledge. Single rack to #2. Dow
Mid Eye Collision- 100’-5.10b**/ Again, way soft for the grade. Stem up out of the slot to clip a bolt and swing to jugs onto the face. Steep but positive climbing through bolts that can be supplemented by two small pieces, leads to the shared anchor on the ledge above. Like Eye Gear, any 5.10 climbing is over with after 30’. Dow
Eye Full Tower- 160’-5.9***/ Fully bolted. Real juggy for the grade. Pass through the slot and start climbing the bolt line up. All jugs, which would make it 5.8 at most many destinations. Pass the fixed rap/belay on the ledge and continue up the steep upper face to a fixed rap atop this corner of the formation, where the arch hole is. Two raps to the ground. Can skip clips on this tightly bolted route or take a ton to make it one lead. Dow
Rhonda’s End- 200’-5.10a*/ Climb the chossy crack to the right of Eye Full. It curves up and left making a short traverse up and to the same shared fixed rap on a ledge. Make a 2nd pitch out of it by continuing a traverse left around the formation (bushy), up a short easy corner to the base of the fun C4#4 right facing finish on Penny’s Lane which is the only good part of Penny Lane anyway. I lead this corner with a single #3 and #4, most would prefer another #4. Belay up on top via Eye Full’s top rap and rap that route back to the base. Single to #2 or #4 if doing the 2nd pitch, optional additional #4. Dow
High Center- 5.7*/
Preemptive Strike- 5.10b**/
Twilight Years- 5.11b**/
Cool Crack- 5.11a***/
Class Crack- 5.10a***/ One of the better routes at the grade in Castle Rocks State Park and/or the entire City of Rocks area for that matter. Crack Class is a must do two pitch extravaganza. The first pitch runs up an aesthetic right curving crack. As the bomber fingers and hands give way to a larger crack, you have to stem (crux) out right over a blank face to catch a huge jug in the beautiful hands crack/corner above and right. Run up the hands crack to a comfortable gear belay. The thin crack directly above is Oatmeal Stout (5.12a****). The second pitch of Class Crack takes the the mid-5th run out chimney to the left which tops out on a detached pillar (no pro). Walk to the far left end of this flat top pillar and step over and climb an exposed unprotected face for several 5.8 slab moves until you can enter the incredible 5.8-9 splitter to the left. The way I protected that run out slab climbing (serious consequences re a fall there), was to first stem across and place several medium pieces in the crack, down low. I am 5’11”. Not everyone will safely be able to get this gear in due to the span and reach. Follow this last stellar crack to the lower southern summit of Bracksieck. Look for a fixed rap down the west face as soon as it levels off. Dow
Oatmeal Stout- 5.12a****/