North Face - West Cracks

North Face - West Cracks

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.48171°N / 111.43614°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: II-III 5.9
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 4
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


North Face - West Cracks

This fun line is the most popular means of reaching the summit of Oak Creek Spire. It features mostly very good rock, crack climbing of varied sizes (from fingers to chimneys), and a wild jump across a 100+ foot deep chimney on the final pitch. Line was put up by Ed Webster et al in 1970's (quoting out of guidebooks). Rating discrepancy in guidebooks: grade II to III and 5.9- to 5.9+. Let's call it a grade II+ and (a 1970's) 5.9.

Check it.

Getting There

Follow approach directions on main Oak Creek page. Route starts on the north side which is also the side closest to the parent cliff (the backside at the saddle). Route starts via a crack system in the center of north face and then moves right/west on upper pitches.

Route Description

North Face - West Cracks
North Face - West Cracks
North Face - West Cracks

Pitch 1: 5.8+, 70 feet. Move up a well featured wide crack in a short, right-facing dihedral formed by a 30-foot block near base (there's a mid-sized tree at the base of the route). Above block, follow awkward crack (fingers to flaring hands) as the angle eases back. Finish left via an easy slot. Belay at bolt anchors.

Move the belay up and right (west) along slabby ledges (class 3 but slippery) to base of an obvious crack system (leading to a flaring chimney above).

Pitch 2: 5.9, 100 feet. Climb the fingers to thin hands crack (hard for the grade IMHO - warrants a big "+" in the 5.9 rating). 20 feet above enter a flaring but well featured (5.7-5.8) chimney. Above, exit chimney and proceed up a low angle squeeze slot (chossy rock) and belay atop a large flat pedestal.

Pitch 3: 5.8, 80 feet. Climb the steep but easy cracks in the left facing dihedral. This was a fun pitch with good rock and easier-than-it-looks climbing. Belay on top of the lower "rabbit ear". Pitches 2 and 3 can be combined with a 60 meter rope. Note also the rap bolts on the lowest ledge facing north (toward parent cliff) atop this lower spire.

Move the belay to near the point where the chimney (you're about to jump across) is narrowest.

Pitch 4: 5.8, 60 feet. Jump across the wide chasm - good feet and so so hands at the landing zone. Make your way up steep but moderate terrain toward drilled angle chain anchors below summit.

Move up 12 feet of 5.6 to true summit (no anchor, have to downclimb) and the mailbox summit register.

This is a new descent which is supposedly much friendlier than the old one (which went down the east chimney).

Rap (single rope) back down to top of lower spire. We left a fixed rope for ourselves to assist in crossing the chasm.

Rap (double rope - 60 meter ropes needed) from above-mentioned bolts back down to class 3 ledges atop pitch 1. Two 70's will NOT make the ground.

Rap (single rope) from bolts atop pitch 1 back to your packs.

Essential Gear

North Face - West Cracks

Double set of cams from green Alien to #3 Camalot. #4.5 and #5 Camalots were very nice and were used. Possibly extra #0.5 to #1 Camalots.

Two ropes - 60 meter needed if doing the descent described here.

External Links

See main Oak Creek Spire page.