Used 50m doubles on this. Went smooth as butter and no rope drag. The crack holds on the traverse are a little seepy, but even without chalk I was fine. I definitely agree with Marshall to keep heading right after the traverse on pitch 4 to bigger knobs. I went up a bit early, couldn't quite reach the good crimpers (I'm 5'1") and did an awkward slopey move. Almost went sailing right there, which would've been exciting, but I didn't want to take my first gear fall at that moment.
I followed this in June, 2013. My leader did the chimney on his belly, I did it on my back. Either way works. I was able to flip to my belly as I neared the top end of the chimney. The first pitch to the chimney is knobby, then each pitch gets progressively more slippery. The slick granite above doesn't have pockmarked glacial polish that would at least give you some dime edges. I have 5.10 rubber and only slipped once going around the final corner.
The move at the top is only 5.9 or less. It is easy to move down the hump a step or two (its not a roof) to find a very good handhold and swing up the right leg, like getting on a saddle. It's nothing compared to what you did to get that far.
The last pitch on the face is even more slippery than the ones below, especially coming around the final corner. Be sure to protect yourself well before the corner and going around it. I agree that the protection just above the corner is not there, so be sure to protect that corner, preferably with two pieces.
Extra small cams are essential for this route. You will need them for the last face pitch. The horizontal crack before the final corner is still seeping a little. So you will be placing or removing pro (preferably small cams) on perhaps burning calves (though mine felt fine) while avoiding wetness on your fingers. Extra pro that is small is needed on this horizontal crack as you approach the final corner to avoid swinging into the rock on the left if you fall. I like nuts, but this horizontal crack is a difficult place to be fiddling with them.
Small cam devices are great and convenient, but the cams themselves can turn over much more easily than larger ones in my cam testing experience. I have destroyed two sizes of small cams, testing their resistance to turn over. The margin for error in placement to avoid turning over a small cam in a fall is an underrated real concern in my opinion. Relying on one small cam device is risky. Two equalized in a placement are better, especially at this corner if you can do it.
My partner and I found this climb to be more physical than anticipated. We didn't encounter any single difficult move but were surprised at how sustained it was. I remember people telling me that it was slick rock with awkward climbing. I only found one slick section (P2 after the roof) and that was only for the left foot. The climbing wasn't unusually awkward in my opinion. But, placing gear while my calves were screaming was geting old. Also, the last pitch has a section that didn't seem to take any pro. There were good placements up to the roof and then nothing until turning it and moving up for a few moves.
Originally rated at 9+, the "10b" move can be just a little thought provoking the first time, but nothing to worry about if you've enjoyed the rest of the route up to this point.
A few awkward sections don't detract at all from the beauty of the route.
Anyone who is not familiar with this route, do not be misled by the post by 10k.
Quality: all of the pitches of this route are varied and excellent, the final arch pitch being the best and most fun by far. Plus you get to descend Daff!
Difficulty: 10k and previous posters are right, it is 5.9+ not 10b (seems to me the exit headwall was once rated 5.8).
Pro: is perfectly adequate the whole way on that last pitch if you have two sets of small cams as recommended, and a good amount of short or long slings. Not R at all by Tuolumne standards.
Gear: offset nuts are not needed at all and would likely be yanked out by the diagonal force that would result from a fall. Normal skill at placing ordinary nuts securely in Tuolumne-style cracks will do. And you do not need four 2-inch cams as noted in the Recommended Gear tab.
It's a heads-up route, with a variety of climbing skills needed, and route-finding decisions on the last pitch (stick with the arch? go out on the face? how to get back to the arch for pro?). One of the best routes in the Meadows.
We free climbed P1 in the guide as it is an approach pitch. So our climbing really started with pitch 2, and so my pitch 1 is supertopo's p2 and p2 is p3, etc.
The first pitch is money pitch. It's a squeeze chimney with pro deep inside. Flipped my orientation many times inside the chimney, not like just right side in like ST suggests. Awkward to move higher with slick polish on the face. Get a good handjam and somehow get a toe onto a good edge high and step up to pass the crux there. Then comes more fun - super slick, and sustained 5.9 fingers, that requires a combination of delicate slab climbing, liebacking, and finger jamming.
P2 is short, and mostly is a continuation of the slick lieback/finger jam on P1, except for a very short traverse with bomber pro.
p3 is just not fun. That's why I deducted a star from the climb. First, the pro is so bad that it really should have a "R" rating. Tiny cams and offset nuts are mandatory. The pitch is mostly a undercling slab traverse but the undercling is bad. The crack is shallow and flared in weird ways. Stopping every few feet to look for pro only to find none. Ended up having runout sections and the fall would have been devastating and possibly zippering out all the gear. The crux ST has it that you down climb to the small ledge? But I found the best way to do it is to just traverse directly onto it since you are already traversing. No need to stay high and then down climb like the topo implies. There is no 10b move on it at all. 9+ is more like it. Delicate for sure, but easier than the crux section for On The Lamb. After that, find the better underclings and keep traversing until the knobs. Mantel/pull up over the head wall on knobs and head up. Find the piton, clip it, and make this 5.9 slab move on tiny crimpers and slab feet. Really crazy and happy that a piton is there. After that, find a small stance to belay and then finish the climb with some class 4 scrambling.
Great route, but next time I'd probably skip p2 and p3 and just rap after P1. There are slings on pitons to rap down to another block with slings below start of the chimney pitch. From there rap to the ground. Maybe 2 ropes are required to do this, I don't know, but I probably would bring 2 just in case.
Edit: Like mongrel said, small cams are definitely required, and less experienced leaders will want more of those, maybe triples. Lots of long slings for sure. Don't let the 10b rating that supertopo gives scare you away, but also don't jump on it if you are not comfortable with 20-30 feet between pro.
Yes to Karl Baba's belay beta (wish we'd looked here before doing the route!), and his climbing technique beta for p2. It wasn't nearly as scary as it looked from below... I had imagined something more like The Yawn on Medlicott, and was quite relieved at how well the "awkward" sections protected. Also, I found a bomber blue alien placement at the crux on p4, no worries.
I recently climbed this route second time and it seems for me the best route in the Meadow I've ever done. When West Crack ( nothing remarkable left from this route) usually have a line of several party Crescent Arch can be free. I would not say that this route is harder than Third Pillar of Dana or Lucky Streaks, but IMHO much better with more climbing variety
The bark on this climb is far worse than its bite. . . at least as far as earlier postings are concerned. Crescent Arch ain't 10b, and sure it is awkward at times, but if you've climbed Yosemite old school climbs in the Valley, Crescent Arch is nothing to warn off other people about. (Worse than Oz? Come on.)
We liked the climb and wished that other people's comments would not have put us off for so long. My wife, a 5.9 leader, led every pitch without complaint.
"Is that wining or whimpering I hear? There's no wining or whimpering in Rock Climbing!!" (My wife)
We did Crescent Arch on Thursday and I thought I should point out 2 experiences I had w/the climb.† At the end of pitch 2, it seems more logical/comfortable to belay at the ledge below the pins, instead of belaying at the pins.† I was wondering if Supertopos recommends belaying at the pins, because of Rope Drag?† We did belay at the pins, but it was not very comfortable.† When I led the friction/traverse pitch, I used long runners and ran it out a little, and had absolutely no rope drag.† I was wondering if I would have had the same experience if we belayed from the ledge below the pins.† Do you know if the extra 25 feet make that much of a difference regarding the friction traverse pitch?† Have you ever done it from ledge instead of the pins?
Second, I donít think the crux pitch is 10B.† I think itís very heady, but definitely not 10B.† I think 5.9 or 5.9+ is an appropriate rating.† I had a tougher time on Pitch 2 than I did on the friction/traverse, guess it just goes to show how weak my crack climbing skills are.† It was my first time doing the route, I did find pitches 2 and 3 to be very awkward, thanks for the heads up.
Climbed this route last Sunday. The route was "dry" but very mossy on the first half of p3 (before the crux), making pro somewhat tricky. The .10b part wasn't noticeably harder than anything else on the route, but the entire route felt stiff for the grade. After the crux, make sure to traverse out to where the knobs get really big instead of trying to head up too early, otherwise falling might ensue.
The belay beta posted by Karl Baba below is right on. And the raps are easy to find (follow cairns).
I definately second what Karl Baba suggested with the following additions.
2. There's a solid bolt and a huge ledge at the end of pitch 2, neither of which is on the topo. The pins mentioned as the real belay are quite scary.
5. There's a rather nice optional belay at the top of the arch on the third pitch, before pulling up onto the knobs, (all med nuts or med cams) for folks like me who manage to strangle themselves with rope drag.
Great route but quite a headgame, harder than LuckyStreaks, 3rd Pillar, Direct Northwest Face Lembert...
6-4-03 The route is still a little wet. This makes it more "interesting", but not difficult. It should remain damp for a few more weeks, due to the snow patch on top.
Also, the walk over to the rap chains (on the left) is wet and snowy. The OTHER rap chains (next to the tree) are fine.
Oct 16, 2002 - 11:45am
Even easier descent from the top of Daff. Once on top follow the cairns (if they are not there head toward the southeast corner of the rock) Find the big tree sitting all by itself and seemingly holding up a VERY large slab of rock. There are rap chains ON TOP of the rock slab. 2 60's puts you on the ground in one, a single rope drops you straight down to a second set of bolts about 75 feet down the face. From there a second rap puts you on flat ground. then a 20 minute walk off down the slabs past 14k, Fingertips, and the like. No comnclimbing involved!
Oct 14, 2002 - 01:22am
Kudos to Karl Baba for describing the best descent route off of Daff Dome!
As Karl mentions, head to the point on the dome where the ground is closest
to the top of the rock which is roughly the east (or north east)direction. A
bit of low angle scrambling down is necessary to reveal a bolt and pin with
webbing and three rappel rings. A doubled 60M rope gets you to the
ground, but a doubled 50M rope gets you down as well (an easy 3rd class
scramble for the last 25 feet!). This is way preferable to the death slabs
Sep 1, 2002 - 01:43am
The crux pitch for me had to be the awkward section up the "chimneyish" area of the 2nd pitch. I ended up jamming the wide crack with my left hand while using the small face holds to slowly and painfully make it up this section.
My partner followed this section easily by placing his feet on the front wall, his back and hands on the back wall and then scooting up. This technique seemed to be more efficient.
Also, make sure to stretch out the lower back before tackling the last pitch.
Aug 26, 2002 - 01:58pm
After doing a bunch of 5.10s in Tuolomne (Oz, Lucky Streaks, 3rd pillar of Dana), I found this to be the hardest route we did on our trip. The crux is really not very hard, but the start of pitch 2, where the slab is the steepest (domes are steeper near the base) felt desperate and sustained. A worthy and difficult climb for the grade!
If you are taking pictures, set up a belay just after the crux moves, before you go over the roof on knobs. You'll get killer shots of the second and then on the final pitch you get another nice shot of the leader on knobs. You can still reach the top with a 60 meter rope from there if you place your last pro at the final overhang.
Aug 16, 2002 - 06:16pm
Yeah what Karl Baba said. Belay on the ledge, not under the roof.
Oh. Also be sure to check out the snoozy, lie-down, no-hands rest in the ledge/crack just left of the crux. You can actually squeeze into this granite bunk, lie down, and get a two-arm and one leg rest. And while you're reclining, take all the time you need to scope out the crux. 8*)
I liked combining the crux pitch with the 5.8 as suggested by SuperTopo. However, I needed the full length of my 200' to set up a belay on the exit ramp. The 150' length listed in SuperTopo seems a wee bit shy. You might end up stuck on the 5.8 knobs. EEK!
p.s., Many thanks to Karl Baba for his moral support on this awesome climb.
p.p.s., Long live SuperTopo!
After looking at the supertopo published in Rock and Ice, I would propose some alternatives for parties looking for a more pleasant trip up Crescent Arch.
1. Don't end the first pitch at the fixed pins in the chimney!!! Stop at a cozy ledge 20 feet down and right of the first hard moves. Slam in a couple cams (1 and 2 camalot size) Then, instead of being jammed inside a chimney with no stance or view, you are on a nice ledge and can watch your leader on the whole pitch above.
2 At the end of Pitch 2, don't belay at the fixed pins! There is a great stance just below by about 15 feet. relax
3 on pitch 2, where it says "right side in" put your left hand and foot in the crack and, palming down with your right hand, work your way up from one smearing dish to another. You can rest every move or two if need be.
4. Don't do the scary walk down to the South unless you want the excitement. From the top of Daff dome, walk east to the tree and then South and downwards slightly for about 80 yards. Then directly east (down) as if you're heading to the highest point of the earth below. YOu'll find decent rap anchors that will barely get you do the ground with one doubled 60 meter rope. then trail to road or go most of the way down and scramble over the shoulder to retrieve your packs
Great Route. (some folks hate it for being awkward) Keep up the good work Chris, Greg et all!
Crescent Arch takes the obvious line in the middle.
Photo: Todd Snyder
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