If you like finger cracks, you need to climb the Crucifix.


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Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 20, 2011 - 01:30am PT
[Note: this is a long, rambling TR. You have been warned. Proceed only if bored, on the pot or better yet, both.]

Remember, the art of bullsh*tting is not lost on those who don't readily have access to the internet to hip check your bs. While this does not belong in the annals of official Supertopo TRs, I thought I'd provide an account of our devastatingly humble adventure from this weekend past. Why, you ask? To encourage you, too, to beguile your laptop-less friends to climb this fine and dandy route on Higher Cathedral Rock called The Crucifix.

Let's be real now. Of all the climber friends in your rolodex (young people, look it up) how many of them would wake up on their day off, sphincter relaxed, and super amped to ride some fatties? 20%? 10%? Unless you're a proud club card owner of the OW Fetish Club, then it's more like 2%. Ergo, this exfoliating route needs more traffic. If that means resorting to deception to promote a route, then so be it. This beauty of a line could use more polish and less cobwebs.

4 hours of sleep, 300 plus miles and 4 red bulls later, I'm back at el cap bridge. My friends had climbed Half Dome in a day finishing some 8 hours prior to our post-Salathe reunion.
[cue world's smallest violin quartet]
Tired. We were in no mood to aid climb.
None of us were psyched to haul, jug and high step our way up a wall.
Enough! We were going to free climb.
Lurking Fear plans were abandoned with overwhelming enthusiasm, which then begged the question: hmmm, so now what?

"Get on the Crucifix. You guys will have a blast."

Life lesson #249: Heed caution to route/gear suggestions from climbers that are casually working on freeing Quantum Mechanics, the upper pitches of the Leaning Tower, waiting after 10am to chase the shade up Astroman. Hell, anyone from Camp 4 for that matter. Yes, I know. Filed under D for 'Duh'. Filled with relief from our pre-emptive bail off the captain and fueled with leftover pancake scraps from the lodge, we were ready to jump on this so-called Crucifix. Never heard of it. Grrreat!

"Yeah, YOU especially will love it. Bring two #3s, two #4s and yeah maybe take a #5 if you have one."

Neglecting to work on my aerobic fitness these past few months, it came as no surprise that I pussyfooted the entire approach. I took half a dozen mini-breaks. My supposed super wicking underwear was not up to the day's task. Indeed! Filed under T for 'TMI'. It took over an hour to get to the base of the buttress. A new speed record. Awesome! Defending my title as "world's slowest hiker".

Hiding among three backpacks, two haul bags and four loads of laundry, I was too lazy to make an archeological dig through my car to find the Reid guidebook. Cool, maybe we can onsight this puppy. "Hahaha" -Future Me

Past noon. Soaked in sweat. Still at the base of NEB Higher. Hoping to start in the shade, but realizing that we either need to get started or accept the discomforts of a very possible epic. I throw paper to two scissors, grumble and take the end of the rope. On a side note, if you have never climbed the northeast buttress, it is one of the best 5.9 routes in Yosemite. Mushing under the sun like a husky, I ignore the rope drag from two 10mm 70m ropes. With a bit of simuling, I get us to the start of Crucifix in two mega long pitches. If you're doing the NEB, savor the experience and pitch it out. I was tugging on the ropes, pulling slack into my right hand and climbing with my left. Not fun, but I was on a cracked out mission for shade.

P1: still in the sun, but an eighth of a degree cooler, my friend takes the lead. The old pin moves when he takes a poke at it, so he opts out of clipping the ticking time bomb. He makes his way through the 5.12- undercling which is protected by a fixed nut and charges into the dihedral. But(!) not before going off route up the cool flake on the left. Remember? No topo. Lazy high-fives all around. I followed up and pulled on the fix nut, the .5 around the corner and then went back into bone crushing top rope free climbing send mode. In the dihedral is this thin amazing discontinuous seam to protect you as you make some chimney and/or stemming moves. I was sloughing off flakes of granite left and right. Upon exiting the corner you are met with a glorious hand crack to a horn.

P2: Our other partner takes the lead and makes his way to the slightly overhanging #3/3.5 sized crack. He laybacks his way up. With only two #3s, he walks his gear all the way to the anchor. Life lesson #250: when faced with a wide fissure, leap at the opportunity to take the sharp end. You can ostensibly TR your way up and, more importantly, have the arsenal to Plan B French Free. Otherwise, with no wide gear left behind, accept the wrath of having to actually climb the thing.

Would you pound relentlessly on your steering wheel if you saw a, 'honk if you love to fist!' bumper sticker [note:] beside a picture of a blue camalot? Then step right up. This pitch has YOUR name written ALL over it. Without any gear to aid up with, I put on my approach shoes to help with the OWing. Ankles happy. Hiking boots perfectly jammed. Big mitted homo sapiens love to whine about how easy it is for women to dance up .75 and 1 sized routes. Lest we not forget, while we might fly up a thin hands section, we are forced to contort our lilliputian parts when the crack widens. I am rattly fisting and talking hand puppet camming my way up to the next anchor. There's less than a pint of water to share between three thirsty climbers. I start dreaming about pool side pina coladas. At least the view is nice.

P3: Starts up an easy #2 "perfect hand" (ah hem, wide cupping) crack to this ugly looking flaring roof squeeze thing. He took the cams for a walk again; I was left to figure out how to creatively gain altitude. I am sort of at lost for words here. How about elbows deep up a llama's ass for what felt like an eternity, I finally make it to the anchor. Think it's impossible to miss the 40 foot traverse across the right arm of the Crucifix? Let's just say for things like this, you can always count on us to prove you wrong. After having gone too high, I lower my partner. He makes a .4 heavy anchor at the intersection of the cross and backs it up with the bolt and .75 on the right end of the ledge at the start of P4.

P4: Two of us sit on the ledge while the other one starts off the next pitch. We ponder over how much he can link. I crawl around to scope it out.
"How long do you think before the top?"
"Hmmm, looks like 250 feet."
"In meters?"

Look, I used to be able to solve nonlinear second order differential equations. And then I bought an iPhone. With my brain charging behind the espresso maker in Yosemite Lodge, competence impaired, I sputtered, "eh, you know, one full rope length, more or less." I hoped less. I wasn't excited at the prospect of having to simul 5.11c right off the deck. Appropriately, I prayed.

Not sure if God exists. But with the sun setting fast and 1 meter of slack left I hear, "FREE!".

So I'm thinking maybe.

Hot diggity. He was able to link all three pitches to the top! I yarded on two fixed nuts at the start that led up to the loose Chihuahua sized death block that I pulled out and kicked back in with my feet. After the 000 and 00 C3 roof, the climbing was manageable again and we rush to the top as the sun dropped below the horizon.

We follow the cairns down the suckers' route toward the top of Braille Book. I make two more goofs by cutting left too soon. Having not had anything to drink in a while, my mind wanders toward the tasty sound of Bridalveil Falls. Knowing both of the good paths that lead back to the valley floor, we still manage to bushwhack, manzanita surf and tallus hop our way down.

We stumble like drunkards down the gully and are back to home base by 10pm. Midnight I'm laying in the tent half dead. When you find yourself surrounded by a half dozen naked men in their underwear and all you can think about is pizza and wanting to soak in a vat of Neosporin, it's time to take inventory of all the life choices that led you to this.

"We heard you guys climbed on Higher Cathedral. How was it?"

"If you like nice finger cracks, you need to climb the Crucifix."

The next day we are on the road back to San Francisco. With the Spaniards on driving duty, I use my now fully charged brain to consult le google and bust out the longest TR I have ever written with two fingers and no speel chek. Opposable thumbs rejoice!

No pins, no bolts, no hammer, no food, 1 quart of water. Doubles on some hexes, not all, nothing bigger than a 10 hex and a few stoppers. Whoa, no wonder it was rated 5.12b R. With modern gear, the R is relegated to a PG13, if not G rated, climb. Not a fan of walking gear? If you only carry the recommended doubles of 3 and 4, then it's, without a doubt promoted back to R.

No, I don't climb 5.12 and if you don't either, it shouldn't discourage you from getting on this wildly, fun route. When I return, I will have with me a Creek rack of 4 #3s, 2 #4s, 1 #5. It's a load to hump, but the middle two pitches would be stellar to climb without having to bump metal and to just focus on climbing. I'm aiming to lead it at 5.10+ C2. If I can, you can, too.
On Sunday it was led at 5.11c C1.

TL;DR. This route is badass. Especially, you know, if you like finger cracks.

Where the Froude number often >> 1
Jun 20, 2011 - 01:40am PT
Holy shnikes you are gettin sum this season!!!!!!

Nothing like throwing out the imaginary solution in place of a real one...In the case of questions like 'can i do this sweet climb called the crucifix' or how do i solve du/dt=a*del^2(u) :)

Gym climber
Jun 20, 2011 - 01:41am PT
Whoa. In. Tense.

Trad climber
San Francisco
Jun 20, 2011 - 01:51am PT
Nice! I think we watched you guys from across the gully from the Higher Spire. There were some folks on the NEB too. We guessed that you guys might be in for a nighttime descent. Glad you made it down safely.

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Jun 20, 2011 - 01:54am PT
I want that bumper sticker.

I like finger cracks!!!\

Good TR.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 20, 2011 - 02:02am PT
Thank you!

Some good crosslinks:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=391916&msg=726280 (FA, by Warbler)
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 20, 2011 - 03:41am PT
Thanks for sharing these cools TRs from your awesome season!

Boulder climber
Jun 20, 2011 - 04:15am PT
manzanita surf ... our way down.


Jun 20, 2011 - 10:11am PT
Your writing is superb!!!
When you find yourself surrounded by a half dozen naked men in their underwear and all you can think about is pizza and wanting to soak in a vat of Neosporin, it's time to take inventory of all the life choices that led you to this.

the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Jun 20, 2011 - 10:54am PT
i always wanted to do that route. maybe when i retire..
David Wilson

Jun 20, 2011 - 01:41pm PT
proud send here tahoe - great job!
adam d

The Bears, CA
Jun 20, 2011 - 01:53pm PT
awesome TR and climb!

Trad climber
Mill Valley, CA
Jun 20, 2011 - 01:57pm PT
Love, love, love your trip reports. And this one was done on your smart phone? Wow, I bow to your manual dexterity and excellent eyesight, as well as your superb writing. Thanks for the share.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 20, 2011 - 01:58pm PT
Great route. Great send. Great TR.

It would be a waste to save this one until boredom. It's too good.


Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 20, 2011 - 02:06pm PT

I read the write-up twice because I liked the style so much.

What pitch is the flared chimney in the first climbing photo and the photo after that?

Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 20, 2011 - 02:18pm PT
Nice, Tahoe!

Your ability to .10+ your way through a .12 is exceeded only by the brilliance of your writing. Sometimes slow typing helps you re-caste a sentence even as it's spinning out.

MOre, please.

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Jun 20, 2011 - 02:20pm PT
I wonder if someday I'll be up for this climb.
That flare pitch looks spectacular!

Trad climber
fresno, ca
Jun 20, 2011 - 02:27pm PT
Gnar. Way to grind it out. Thanks for the entertainment.

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 20, 2011 - 02:29pm PT
Darwin, I should not have said chimney. I'm sorry. That's a bit misleading.

P1 has a beautiful, still dirty dihedral where you can make chimney moves the entire way. Impressive sequencing and with modern small gear, well protected. You can put your back away, toward the wall or climb the face outside. All three of us climbed it completely different.

P3 leading to the ledge has this bombay flared crack thing. I didn't lead it, so my memory is not serving anyone here. All I can tell you is that it wasn't easy since he walked all his gear up with him. I was desperate for a #3, but I miraculously managed to chicken wing and then fist hand stack through the 3 section. My partner also thought 2 #5s would have made an onsight more possible. He didn't realize that he should have walked it the first time. He down climbed and scooped it back up. No one likes carrying heavy pieces, but sometimes it pays to have it and just plug, chug and get it done. The crack eventually narrows to .75 to a .5 before you make a careful, really cool traverse right.

I can't wait for this route to get more traffic. 5 * Route.

Daphne, it's amazing what you can do in a car with four hours, an iPhone and 2 double doubles animal style and a milk shake. We women can sure multi-task.

Gym climber
Jun 20, 2011 - 02:43pm PT
Sweet! Thanks for sharing! Four 0.5 purple camalots you say??? I'm in!
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