Chastity Crack is one of the finer
, albeit short, free crack climbs in Zion National Park
located on the backside of a large rock buttress/wall named the Watchman. Bryan Bird
and Dave Jones
put the route up in 2007. Bryan states in his new (2009) guide book, “Zion Climbing, Free and Clean”, “if this route were closer to the road, it would be an all time classic”.
This statement draws consensus among the locals including myself.
Chastity consists of three pitches of mostly finger and hand jam crack climbing. The first two pitches, although called out as 5.9+ in Bryan’s new guide book, I thought were pretty mellow by Zion’s standards for the grade. The first crack starts off a bit mossy, but improves as it turns the arête left. The second pitch is something reminiscent of Primrose Dihedrals
, a fantastic hand crack that pulls out left of the roof above. The third pitch is the money pitch of the route. After some stout 5.11 climbing up the short finger splitter portion
, one finds a solid stretch of vertical hand crack climbing to the top of the route.
Chastity Crack is located on the Watchman’s north face
and thus is not a sunny objective. We climbed it in November, 70F+, and it was perfect conditions for the route. The approach is quite involved for a three pitch climb and will deter most folks from even considering it.
Park at the visitor center. Walk across the street to a large parking lot full of the trams used during tourist season to haul folks down canyon. When you come to a pedestrian bridge that leads to a maintenance building, drop down into the wash on the right below the bridge. Head southwest towards the backside corner of the Watchman. Stay in the wash until you come to a significant gully on your right. Bushwhack up this gully on very loose ground. Make your way out of the gully and to the soft slopes on the left whenever the brush relents enough to do so.
Walking up the left side of the gully through sporadic bush is more pleasant than up the gully or anywhere on the right side of the gully based on our first hand experience. As you approach the north face of the Watchman, you will notice a buttress of sorts on the right side. Chastity Crack runs up the middle of this buttress, just to the left of a chimney-tower.
Two stations are fixed (2009) for a double rope rappel.
Route Description300’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.11
1st Pitch- 25m- 5.9/
Make an awkard
start up the mossy hand crack to the left of the chimney. It is sort of undercut and loose
. Place gear at will as you climb the fun crack. You flip to the left side of the arête about 2/3rds up the pitch. Continue in that hand crack as it widens into a small off width move
below a large ledge atop a pillar. Set up small to medium gear for the belay.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.9+/
This is a classic sandstone pitch reminiscent of crack pitches among the Moab Towers
. Climb the hand crack with plenty of foot rests (5.9) to just below the chimney. Traverse out left on a small finger rail, gaining another crack.
Follow it on fairly easy (5.9), but exposed, ground to the fixed belay with a small stance.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.11/
Traverse out right on edges to a solid hand jam crack. Ascend this crack as it turns into double finger splitter cracks. Make the crux moves of the climb with thin pro up these splitters to gain a rest ledge below a perfect hands and fist crack splitting the slightly varnished wall above.
Hard, slightly off center hand and toe jamming reach another fixed belay on a decent ledge.
Make two raps with double ropes.
We left the wires in the bag. Single from the smallest cams you have to 3”. Double .5 to 2”, triple 2’s. We used double 60’s, but it looks like 50’s would work. This route won’t see much sun, so if climbing during the winter months, bring some clothes. Bring your helmets, as of 2009, we were still cleaning this route.
External LinksThe Many Free Routes in Zion National Park
Oscar’s Café, the only place for climbers to truly fill their appetite (free range chicken, beef and Hank’s Tanker) and meet one of the finer climbers and individuals I know on the face of the earth, Zach Lee, someone who has established many of his own local FA’s in the area.
Zion National Park
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