West Crack

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Technical Rock Climb
Time Required:
Half a day
Only one 5.9 move, to get off the ground...
Rock Difficulty:
5.9 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 9 Votes

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West Crack
Created On: Mar 8, 2004
Last Edited On: Oct 12, 2006


From the parking area described on the main page, the West Face of Daff Dome will be in plain site. There is a use trail to follow, and the approach should take no longer than 15 minutes. From the base of the dome, traverse around to the north where the start for West Crack will become apparent, as it is the most noticeable feature on the West Face.

Route Description

West Crack
West Crack
West Crack
This route, first climbed in 1963, was originally rated 5.7. The consensus rating these days is 5.9, with the 5.9 crux being the move to get off the ground (seriously!). The rest of the first pitch is solid 5.8 on a balancy, diagonal-running crack with insecure feet. The first pitch does offer ample pro, but place it carefully for the direction of pull, don't set yourself up for a zipper. The last time I was there, there were 3 bolts at the top of the first pitch to belay from.

The second pitch is a little wild, with some small roofs to be overcome, but the pro is excellent, and there are buckets aplenty, so the 5.7 rating is justified. After you top the roofs, the crack turns into a true offwidth, large enough to wedge your body in. But, like many other Tuolumne routes, the knobs and chickenheads save the day. The inside of the offwidth is covered in knobs and chickenheads, and the climbing is easy and secure, although pro is an issue. The biggest gear we had on that day was a #4 Camalot, and I had to reach far back in the crack to set it, and then keep pushing it up with me as I went, as I had nothing else large enough. Eventually the crack closed up to finger size, and we belayed here for pitch 3.

Pitch three is pure crack climbing on a flared, bottoming crack with no face holds for your feet. Both hands and both feet in the crack, and the pro was tenuous, but the angle layed back a bit, making this pitch solid 5.8 for most of a ropelength. Overall, a super quality outing.

Essential Gear

A normal trad rack, set of stoppers, Camalots from .5 to #4, or a #5 Camalot would be great on pitch 2 if you have it (some feel that to bring the #5 for the short stretch of offwidth climbing is unnecessary. We climbed the route with nothing larger than a #4). Plenty of slings, a 60 meter rope will not necessarily allow you to run pitches together, the stances are set well for a 50 meter rope. Cordelettes are good if you use them, and wear your comfy multi-pitch shoes as the climbing is never overly difficult.


This was the crux of our climb. There is no easy way off of this thing (maybe there is - see below). The easiest (except for carrying the extra weight) solution is to bring another rope. An 8-mil line to use as the pull line on your double-rope rappel will make life much more pleasant.

The line of descent is on the Southeast Face, and without the double-rope rappel, this descent requires some insecure friction downclimbing with fatal fall potential. There are adequate natural anchors for the rappels.

If you choose not to bring the 2nd rope, follow the line of least resistance down the Southeast Face along a flake and ledge system with blank friction between. The insecure sections aren't too long, but unnerving just the same. From the base, contour west to north to your line of approach.

Descent info from raybo added on August 12, 2004:

There is an easy way off of Daff Dome. Head southeast toward a big rock that appears to be leaning against a tree. There are rap anchors here. With double ropes it is a single rap to the ground; with a single rope there is an intermediate rap anchor and 2 raps get you down.