The Crucifix


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Trad climber
Orange CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 24, 2009 - 04:11pm PT
Iíve heard this is a really good climb and Iíd like to do it. Anyone have any stories or photos of this route. The Affliction also looks way cool, Iíve given that a good viewin on the MCR descent. Any photos of routes on HCR would be appreciated.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Feb 24, 2009 - 05:39pm PT
You can read the story of the first ascent right here on supertopo:

(I remembered this one, and it was easy to find, by searching for "Crucifix" :-) ).


Mountain climber
Feb 24, 2009 - 06:41pm PT
nice pic of NEBHC; I think we did yellow to purple to down green then finished on red; or something like that. All in the pitch dark and we were way fried so I don't know where the hell we were actually. ha

Supertopo should but that pic in the book. And one of the start too. I think we lost an hour poking around the base. gumbies.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 24, 2009 - 07:19pm PT
The Crucifix is on the Mark Hudon Ten Best Routes of His Life List. I've done it twice.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 24, 2009 - 08:41pm PT
Hey Mark,

On the ledge that cuts right, how wide is it?

Does the crack that steps left at the ledge and runs up through the roof go?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Feb 24, 2009 - 08:49pm PT

There is a fairly new route between the NE Buttress and Crucifix, which has been partly freed:

2217. Wild Apes 5.9 A3+, V, 10p, start betw. LTC & MT, L of Crucifix, AAJ2004

2221. Gravity Ceiling route 5.13a, 3p freed on upper Wild Apes; half of ceiling freed, ST

I believe it goes in the big right facing corner, not in the face crack which would be the continuation of the lower part of the Crucifix cross.

right here, right now
Feb 24, 2009 - 09:15pm PT
What a great climb and terrific place!
Iíve climbed it twice leading all of the pitches, in 1983 and 1987.

Each time with the Maryís Tears direct alternative to the Northeast Buttress start, but climbing *direct* variants of the Maryís Tears which bypass the first and third 5.11 pitches, in a very natural line, each variant about 5.8 (okay 5.9 tops & on sub-par rock).

No falls on either ascent, but deliberately aiding the 12- entry to The Crucifix,
And never able to free the bit past the ear up high (too pumped anyway).
(I also never quite realized I needed to go out left and actually layback the ear, there is a tight finger crack leading straight up)

The gorgeous, cruiser 5.10+ mid section of Maryís Tears:

Aiding the funky, somewhat rotten, poorly protected 5.12- entry into The Crucifix proper:
(It didn't go free at the time, & this is where the Northeast Buttress crosses left)

The nice fist cracks:

The 5.10C offwidth:

The 5.11C stemming corner, fairly short and pretty straightforward:

My first time out, I had Mike Waugh on Jumars behind me, so no extra rope.
When I got to the alcove below this last 5.10 pitch , which is very exposed, I had no gear for the anchor.

So I had Mike untie, I was pulled into the alcove on a fingerlock, & with my free hand pulled the entire rope up,
Alternately clenching it with my teeth,
Then dropped it to Mike so I could pull up, again with one hand, something like a number 1 and 1.5 Friend for the anchor!
(This means I was unroped in a fairly cramped and very exposed position on a BIG route)


right here, right now
Feb 24, 2009 - 10:28pm PT

Russ Walling

Social climber
Upper Fupa, North Dakota
Feb 24, 2009 - 10:31pm PT
Good stuff Roy!

Waugh on Jumars!?! hahahaha! Poor old guy. Was he on a rest day or something?

right here, right now
Feb 24, 2009 - 10:34pm PT
He was suffering from back problems.
'Blew it out rap bolting.........................................................................................

Oakland: what's not to love?
Feb 24, 2009 - 11:06pm PT
Killer photos, Clint and Tarbuster!

Yikes on that belay story.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Upper Fupa, North Dakota
Feb 24, 2009 - 11:08pm PT
Tar: bwahahahaha! I think I just sharted! Rapbolting! the SHAME!

Side note edit: always liked that pic of you on the 10.c wide.... look at the rack. It goes to 2", if that. Cool. Stole the pic already for the weekly wide pic thread over where the men are... WideFetish.... and of course... you da man.

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Feb 24, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
That is all bad ass!!!!

Following up that route was awesome!!!


Trad climber
Golden, CO
Feb 25, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
Friggin' great pictures! This climb is right up there with Astroman, the Rostrum, and Freestone for me.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Feb 25, 2009 - 12:44pm PT
Tar comes through again with another unbelievable adventure!
Jay Wood

Trad climber
Fairfax, CA
Feb 25, 2009 - 12:56pm PT
Climber on Crucifix seen from NEB

Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 25, 2009 - 01:16pm PT
In November of 2008, Kevin Worrall gave this account of the first ascent of "The Crucifix" with Bridwell in 1973. It was buried in another thread Old Geezers! (Yes you!) Write up your FA Stories and tidbits

The Crucifix, by Kevin Worrall

I couldn't wait to get out of high school. I knew exactly what I was going to do - Tim Harrison had filled me in on how it was done. Get to Yosemite around the end of August with a few hundred dollars, set up a tent in Camp 4, ride a bike, spend as little as possible, and climb til it gets too cold or the funds run out.

I climbed the Salathe that Fall, and began checking off 5.10 crack climbs in my little green book. Got to know the crew in camp, and gradually began to make friends and slowly earn respect for my love of climbing. One of those friends was Jim Bridwell. He was a little .... different.... than the other guys.

Jim had a beautiful girlfriend in camp with him, I forget which one it was that first Fall, but none of the other freaks hanging out there did, least not the youngsters like me. Jim had more Valley experience than most all my climbing partners put together, but bore that distinction with the kindness of a father to us. Most of the time.

Next Spring was the first time I sensed he took note of a route I did - after I led Edge of Night. "How was it?" he asked. "Not too bad," I honestly replied. "did it left side in." He hadn't heard of anyone doing it that way, and I think he was more impressed by the fact I did it differently that than the fact I led it.

Not long after that, I was talking to him about the Northeast Buttress of Higher Rock, which I had just done for the second time. I mentioned a wild looking crack system to its right that I had been peering at from one of the belays. I asked him if it had been done, and he told me he was just up there with another partner. The guy wasn't into it, and they had retreated. He told me it was unclimbed. Then he asked me if I wanted to give it a go. I was kind of shocked as I remember.

I had a flash of fear mixed with excitement. It was a terrifyingly steep and smooth wall, hugely exposed by my standards, but The Bird asked me to join him in such a casual fashion it was as if he'd just asked me if I wanted to go have a beer at Degnan's or something.

A couple of days later he woke me up early and off we went. I don't know who was carrying what, all I remember is when we got to the base and dumped out the gear I was shocked again. "Is there another rope?" I asked? Underneath the looming 1500 ft unclimbed wall of Higher Rock he replied "No, why?". There was one fuzzed out red and blue 150 ft Edelrid 9 mil that looked like it was salvaged from a food hang in camp. "It's fine. What's it gonna do, break?"

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.

I was 18 years old, an upstart, and he was the wise Valley Master. I assumed this was the way it was done, and questioned no more.

The first pitches on the Northeast Buttress Route flew by, and soon we were at the traverse and the start of The Crucifix. He had told me at some point that the route, while unclimbed, was not unnamed. I had questioned the religious connotations, and he explained that the crack system was crossed part way up by a horizontal fracture, which gave the whole thing the proportions of a gigantic cross, and that the name was not subject to further discussion. Sounded good to me.

Brid had already done the first pitch off the traverse ledge, so he took the lead, starting with a few aid moves and then into freeclimbing in a flare. He was done quick, and I followed him up to his belay. Without looking me in the eye, he handed me the rack. I looked up to see the next pitch jutting out over our heads - a steep 20 ft ramp leading to a 20 ft overhanging dihedral with a wide hand crack was all I could see. The wall beyond was dead vertical.

I wanted badly to somehow not do it, but I had to go, there was no graceful way out. When I reached the overhang, I was relieved to find it a good size for my hands, but quickly realized there was a problem. The inside of the crack had a thin scaly layer of rock on both sides, which popped when I flexed my hands. Every jam meant an initial flex to detach the scale followed by a frantic finger brushing to make a reasonably clean surface to pull on. This factor also made the hex placements a little sketchy.

Fortunately, God put a big stem hold half way up the overhanging corner which broke it up into two sections, allowing a good rest. I collected myself there, and continued scratching up the corner to where the angle eased to plumb. 9 hex, perfect hands, straight up, straight in, I was elated to be past the steep part, and the rock was no longer scaly, but perfect. Jim grinned that Bridwell grin as he peered up to encourage me.

There were no ledges, or even footholds that I could see to go for, but about fifty feet up, there appeared to be a small alcove in the crack. I was jacked that I was actually making progress on the thing when I was confronted with a 2ft tall, 1 inch thick flake in the crack. When I reached up to pinch it it nearly teetered out in my face. I passed it by shoving it back deep enough to get shallow jams, and then went for the alcove. Same problem, much bigger flake.

I placed my last hex endwise and stepped into a runner on it. That enabled me to get enough leverage to push the beast into the back of it's hole and make room for a belay. Jim had to lower me off the hex to backclean a couple of pieces to build the anchor.

When Jim arrived at the first thin flake, he took tension and maneuvered it out of the crack. With a final tug he sent it. It flipped a few times in the air and began to frisbee in a big arc. We watched it fly 800ft to the ground without touching the wall.

Steep up there.

I was glad Jim got the offsize above us. He polished it off quickly and easily, running out the wide part. Soon he was off belay and before I started up, I took tension to jettison the big flake I had been holding between my legs as I belayed him, another spectacular trundle.

Jim took the next lead also, which put us on the horizontal fracture which forms The Crucifix, and here it was a comfortable, and very exposed ledge. We drank our quart of water.

The next lead was mine. A pin behind the ledge would have protected it well, but no pins. I traversed standing to where the ledge narrowed, then got own on one knee to continue. Soon I had slid over the edge of the ledge and was hand traversing it twenty feet out from Jim with nothing between us but that fuzzy, skinny, food hang rope. Below me was an alarming amount of air.

My goal was a shallow corner that faced us with an arrow crack in it. I fiddled around with some wires, finally got a good #4, and broke out the aiders. A few tiny stoppers got me around a roof and onto freeclimbing again. The rope threatened to pull them all out behind me as the crack aimed in Jim's direction, but I finally got a good directional in and continued to an airy belay out on the prow of the massive Northeast Buttress proper.

Jim didn't hesitate to aid the start of his pitch. I remember thinking there were freeclimbing possibilities on the beautifully featured rock, but it looked hard. Croft freed it 12 years later at 11d. His lead brought us up to the level of the huge roof that caps the giant corner which is much of The Northeast Buttress route. He was anchored in an alcove when I reached him, and we were both tired, but giddy because we knew the route was pretty much in the bag.

I stemmed up through the roof above him and quickly found myself on a lichen covered slab with little protection. Jim was out of sight below, and I remember feeling very alone up there as I carefully found my way from hold to hold, leaving protection far behind. The rigors of the day had both exhausted and focused my mind to the point that I was loose and relaxed even as the moss crumbled under my feet on every move.

The slab gave way to blocks and ledges just below the summit of Higher Rock. I quickly slung a scrub oak and brought Jim up. It had been a perfect day - no falls, wild and crazy climbing, a steep and incredibly exposed new route, and topped off with one of the Valley's best summits.

We were at the river before dark, our faces submerged in the Merced, gulping deep swallows of Sierra snowmelt in the twilight.


Gym climber
Otto, NC
Feb 25, 2009 - 01:29pm PT
Amazing what people can accomplish when technique and confidence are the primary tools. That's a great story.

Feb 25, 2009 - 02:04pm PT
On that Northeast Buttress of higher photo I warn you not to go up the purple way. It's terrible.

The first left on the powder blue line from the corner as it hits the purple just keep going straight left until you hit the yellow.

Don't go up that purple unless you value choss.

Trad climber
Feb 25, 2009 - 02:24pm PT
Great story Roger!
Do you think you climbed well because you didn't want to look bad in Bridwell's eyes? I have found that joining up with really talented climbers can be an inspiration to push beyond the normal limits, even on lead.
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