West Crack

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Technical Rock Climb
Time Required:
Less than two hours
Rock Difficulty:
5.2 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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West Crack
Created On: Jan 11, 2006
Last Edited On: Apr 13, 2006


This is a great route. It's easy but still exposed, and wind rushing down the canyon gives it an alpine feel.

This climb uses the same approach as the West Dihedral Route. From the parking lot hike up canyon. Cross the river on the bridge and follow the streamside trail past the cave to the huge concrete block. From here hike straight uphill heading towards the area between the Whale's Tail (on your right) and the Redgarden Wall (on the left). Climb to the gully between the two rocks and climb up a few feet to the first large ledge on your right. Traverse on this ridge to a small and climb it to the next ledge. Traverse on this ledge towards the river and climb down the chimney to reach the large belay ledge at the base of the West Crack and the West Dihedral.

Route Description

The bottom of the route looks a lot more intimidating than it is. When I was there was a chock jammed in the wall about eight feet up that I used as my first piece of pro. The crack truly starts with the the double wide crack system about ten feet above the ledge. To get there climb the small crack up the face, or climb the first part of the dihedral and then traverse into the crack. Climb up the double cracks like a staircase until you get to a slight left facing dihedral. Climb up the left side using the dihedral and the abundant face holds to the left. After the dihedral the crack narrows slightly and though there are still holds they are however slightly less obvious and the climbing here is more exposed than it previously was. This is the first of the two cruxes but it looks more intimidating than it really is. After negotiating the crux you arrive to a huge cave like ledge that marks the approximate halfway point.

Now climb off of the ledge and back into the crack as it continues above. Above the ledge the crack is much narrower than it was below. Your best bet is to combine moves to jam the crack and at the same time climb the holds on the face. The crack gets narrower the higher you go. The second crux comes about fifteen feet from the top of the route. Once again it looks harder than it really is and the holds are there if you can find them. This crux is harder than the first only because you're so much higher up. After this you'll come into another cave like ledge though only about half the size of the last one. Look up to the right and you'll see the rappel anchor just a little ways above you. Either climb to the right an up the face, or climb out of the cave over the rock at the top to the right and out onto the rappel ledge.

Descent: Rappel from the anchor at the top back down to the belat ledge. A 50 M rope might not even reach and you'd have to do an easy downclimb of the last ten or eight feet. A sixty meter rope will reach. If you use two ropes you can then rappel off of the belay ledge instead of having to do a tricky downclimb the way you came up. Alternately you can traverse ten feet over to the top of the dihedral and set up a sport route to climb the dihedral and the face and spend a few hours exploring the two.

Essential Gear

This crack can eat up any pro you put in it. You can do the whole route with just passive pro. However, be sure to bring lots of long runners and quickdraws or else the crack will eat up your rope to.