Trip Report
Into the womb of the Crack of Doom.
Sunday December 16, 2012 10:01pm
So the Valley hardman Alexi and I decided we'd take a trip up the Crack of Doom as kind of an easy day as we were fresh from getting a beat down on Windfall the day before. Having been raised on the exploits and lore of valley hardmen of past, the Crack of Doom is one I've always had my eye on. I consider it a "right of passage route" much like Steck Salathe, LA Chimney, RNWF of Half Dome etc... Anyway, one can easily admire it's beauty from afar, but cannot fully comprehend its aesthetics until you're standing beneath it.

Behold, the great MAW!

The great Crack of Doom and Crack of Dispair.
The great Crack of Doom and Crack of Dispair.
Credit: Salamanizer

The approach can be summed up like this, It's not as bad as you could imagine, but worse than you'd think.

But oh the rewards you shall reap at the end of the path.

I won't blow this one for you with technical details. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Alexi following Pitch 1. A flawless steep pitch of hands to cupped hands with a little bit of the Wyde to keep the psyche up.

5.10a? As compaired to what???
5.10a? As compaired to what???
Credit: Salamanizer

A taste of whats to come.

Get some!
Get some!
Credit: Salamanizer

I arrived at a much unexpected killer belay ledge with exactly the gear I needed left. Things were looking good until unfortunately the bay tree let loose some angry natives which promptly swarmed from every flank. We've all been there.

As good as the first pitch was, the second was looking even better. A splitter break in the otherwise flawless granite. Uniform and uncompromising, perfect in every way. The uniformity forces purpose. You can't just sew this one up and mindlessly auger your way up. There is not enough gear in 5 racks for this. You must... climb!

Alexi following pitch 2.
Alexi following pitch 2.
Credit: Salamanizer

Fortunately there is a relief crack about half way up that takes a bit more gear for that "piece of mind". Alexi hit the anchors just ahead of the sun. Which unfortunately will bake him for the next half hour. Thats about all this crack ever sees, a half hour to 45 minutes of sun before it's back to the shade. Sweet!!!

Alexi trying to beat the sun.
Alexi trying to beat the sun.
Credit: Salamanizer
Just in time for a good tan.
Just in time for a good tan.
Credit: Salamanizer

Wasn't the most comfortable of belays but was good enough. The next pitch was hard to judge. It seemed to reach back into a gaping maw that never ends. Once again, you must climb. Forget your rack, grab a 4in piece and just go. This is the advice I wish I had.

Looking up into the MAW.
Looking up into the MAW.
Credit: Salamanizer

Now, with great difficulty I finally entered the birth canal. I had to loose everything, drop my rack, slings, strip my helmet, everything that wasn't essential except for a few pieces for an anchor. Once you enter the canal, you don't need gear and getting to the canal you can't use any. You must earn your right of passage.

Crappy photo but if you study it well, it's pretty funny. Here you'll see Alexi in the squeeze hauling the entire rack up, pushing my helmet above him while dragging his behind. Sorry Alexi;)

Credit: Salamanizer

When you reach the final ledge, it is a reformation of ones self, a birthing and acknowledgement that you have earned your right to be here.

Alexi, exiting the canal.
Alexi, exiting the canal.
Credit: Salamanizer

We were able to rappel the route with minimal effort. From here you could really appreciate the aesthetics of this beautiful climb.

Rapping pitch 2.
Rapping pitch 2.
Credit: Salamanizer

Well boys and girls, this most beautiful of climbs is always going to be there. Go get some!!!


  Trip Report Views: 4,010
Salamanizer
About the Author
Salamanizer is a trad climber from Vacaville Ca,.

Comments
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Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:05pm PT
Good job!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:09pm PT
These are really rare photos. I love this route tremendously and don't think I have ever seen any images from it in the 41 years since I last did it. No photo of the final crux pitch? And a shot from the ground of the first pitch would also be much appreciated. Thanks Salami.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:12pm PT
Oh Yeah! I've always wanted to do this and never have though I've done four other routes over there. Beautiful! Thanks for the photos and the psych!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:18pm PT
What?!

Jaybro, offsize afficionado, has not dabbled with The Doom?

Cool photos of a beautiful, classic and historic route that hardly ever gets done.

Thanks, always wondered what it looks like up there
David Wilson

climber
CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:18pm PT
Great job guys ! Did this a few months ago. Here's the huckleberry on ...
Great job guys ! Did this a few months ago. Here's the huckleberry on the left.
Credit: David Wilson
David Wilson

climber
CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:21pm PT
Alejo exiting the flare on pitch 2
Alejo exiting the flare on pitch 2
Credit: David Wilson
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:34pm PT
Elephant Rock might be better than Arch, just maybe.

But of course you have to cross that nasty river or descend that PO infested gully...

And there's no trail

Never mind
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:40pm PT
As good as the first pitch was, the second was looking even better. A splitter break in the otherwise flawless granite. Uniform and uncompromising, perfect in every way. The uniformity forces purpose. You can't just sew this one up and mindlessly auger your way up. There is not enough gear in 5 racks for this. You must... climb!.



That's a wonderful trope there amigo.

And like Peter mentioned, such pics of Doom are rare as all get out. A real treat. Thanks.

JL
David Wilson

climber
CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:42pm PT
Kevin, have you done moon germs up there ? Never heard a report on that one.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:44pm PT
Thanks for this TR and photos. Dispair on the right is maybe a little technically harder, both are old school 10a!
Gal

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:50pm PT
Wow, very cool-thanks... looks good!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:53pm PT
Hah!

I'm flattered you think I could have done that route, David. Maybe at my best with a toprope after working the moves.

I've gotten a very good look at it having done its close neighbor Hairline twice, and its a strikingly beautiful, steep and hard looking finger crack with diorite knobs - one of the most impressive in The Valley. I think Werner's done it.

Hairline's quite the splitter too. When I was shooting climbing photos a lot, I always wanted to get over there as the light gets amazing on both those at the right time of year
WBraun

climber
  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:57pm PT
David Wilson

An ascent of "Moon Germs" was done by Steve Schneider I was his belayer.

I was Bachars belayer on the first ascent of "Moon Germs" and "Nightmare Continuation"
Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
  Dec 16, 2012 - 11:04pm PT
Super cool. TFPU!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Dec 16, 2012 - 11:06pm PT
Is the Nightmare Continuation above the first pitch of Moongerms, Werner?

One thing I remember about that crack, Moongerms, is that if you stand at the base in just the right spot, you can see sky through the finger crack where it turns the bulge above as the crack is so perfectly straight and splitter for that section.

An amazing looking climb, and I suspect a stiff 12a.
David Wilson

climber
CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 11:15pm PT
Werner, let's hear a tale on moon germs ! Did you follow that FA?

Kevin, that sounds amazing. I gotta go check that out.
WBraun

climber
  Dec 16, 2012 - 11:30pm PT
David I did follow on the FA but fell at the crux so no carrot for me :-)

Steve on his first attempt to lead fell and almost hit the the ground head first.

The cable on his last nut broke and the biner on the piece below that broke.

Steve was pretty shook up and I thought we were gonna leave after that.

But he rested for a while and then went back up and fired it.

I was impressed.

I would have run away and cried ......:-)

Is the Nightmare Continuation above the first pitch of Moongerms

Kevin it's off the top of Pink dreams.

Be warned the first pitch is terrifying protection problem.

The second pitch is a winner, beautiful slightly overhanging thin jaming.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 11:34pm PT
Good TR Chad.
to bad that I can not belay and take a photos- one process brain
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  Dec 16, 2012 - 11:40pm PT
Best TR I ever saw for The Crack of Doom, fo sho, Salamanizer.
Nicely done, you guys.
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Dec 17, 2012 - 02:45pm PT
Rad!


The second pitch of Nightmare Connection looks sooo good. Very visible from the top belay of Pink Dream. Too bad about the first pitch.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 11:57pm PT
Awesome. Thanks for sharing!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 17, 2012 - 12:10am PT
Really cool guys. thx for sharing that.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 12:14am PT
So many years reading ST trip reports, and I've always wondered if I'd see one on this climb. Worth the wait!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 01:00am PT
it's been on my list for ever it seems,
I got to see Alexi the day after, and I was even more impressed at the undertaking.

Good on you guys!
and thanks for posting the wonderful TR.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Dec 17, 2012 - 02:07am PT
Excellent - thanks! Was cheburashka there too?

A route that definitely illustrates the difference between "right of passage" and "rite of passage".
Powder

Trad climber
the Flower Box
  Dec 17, 2012 - 04:50am PT
Wow!!!

Thanks for sharing!! : D
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Dec 17, 2012 - 10:00am PT
Thanks for a great TR and photos of what was the hardest climb when I first arrived in the Valley and the test piece for every climber wanting to make a name for himself. The mere mention of it would send shudders up most people's spine back in the '60's. Bev Johnson climbing it was another big breakthrough. I'm glad it still seems hard and was delighted to see the photos showing just why. Imagine doing it in kluttershoes.
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
  Dec 17, 2012 - 08:37am PT
aerial spirits!

wings? wings?
he don't kneed no stinkeen wings!

bitchen write up sal.
thanks.
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Dec 17, 2012 - 08:49am PT
That climb is spectacular. those pictures really sum up the experience. Thanks!
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
  Dec 17, 2012 - 11:20am PT
Nice pics and TR. I've still never done it. I set out with Rick Piggott one day to do it without a car from Camp 4, and we couldn't get across the river. We ended up doing DNB instead (which we started around 1:30 and got benighted). What a beautiful climb.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Dec 17, 2012 - 11:22am PT
TWO THUMBS UP Sal!
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Dec 17, 2012 - 12:30pm PT
We should go do it Grug team 112 or more!
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 12:34pm PT
great report and pictures, maybe the only pics I've ever seen on the route itself. tfpu
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Dec 17, 2012 - 12:46pm PT
Nice! Brings back memories. One of my first 5.10's, did the first two pitches of Crack of Despair, rapped down and trecked over to Doom. Sporty bitd sans cams.
Your tr makes me think of Pratt......the master free climber of Yosemite in the 60's.
Tork

climber
Yosemite
  Dec 17, 2012 - 01:36pm PT
Good stuff!

Would love to hear more from Alexey on the route.
David Wilson

climber
CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 01:15pm PT
here's one more looking down from above the flare on the second pitch. i shamelessly pushed a single cam through this for what seemed like about 50 feet of flare.

looking down the second pitch
looking down the second pitch
Credit: David Wilson
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 01:51pm PT
I started climbing in the years of the red Roper guide, and this climb stood out as the ultimate free climb -- both in terms of difficulty, and in terms of commitment. In 45 years of climbing, these are the first pictures I've seen of anyone climbing the route. Thank you very much for the TR.

John
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 02:24pm PT
I think of Doom as Pratt's best free climb in the Valley. Long enough to be so storied; every pitch different and oh so bold; summits out with the crux; ultra-perfect rock; very intimidating; kind of tells a "story" pitch-to-pitch. Hurrah for Chuck.

That general shot of Doom and Despair shows Despair's little bit of a crux pitch quite well and how that climb turns into endless 5.4 chimney afterwards. This is another unusual image.

For those who are wondering how the crux last pitch goes, here is an adaptation from David Wilson's elevation image above. I change color of dot from where we belayed--- right before the crossover and actual 5.10a crux.



You slip through the roof slot chimney, and very soon work around the divider flake to the widening crack visible in the middle section. Afterwards is trivial and out of view.

This very old but world-class climb is well within the abilities of many today and is even de-fanged partly by virtue of modern protection. David mentions crack-jumaring on the second pitch, for example. But it begins so stoutly and is so steep tall, I have to imagine that even today there will be parties that will approach but not actually execute the ascent.

I did this climb with a great new partner, a Mark Feldman (?) from Oregon. 1971 about June or so. He was an acquaintance of Kim Schmitz who put us together when Mark was on a short trip down to the Valley. The day before I think we climbed Rt Side of Goodrich Pinnacle. That slab climb, another beauty from the Golden Age was is distinct contrast to the terrifically steep Doom.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Dec 17, 2012 - 02:53pm PT
Wow, this is terrific in its clarity and immediacy.
Way to go, Salamanizer and Alexey (and David and Alejo).
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 03:10pm PT
Peter, absolutely agreed about quality.
This is one of the best routes in the Valley I've ever climbed.
It happen for me to climb Doom just 3 days after I climbed another Pratt route LA Chimney, which took from me everything I had. Climbing Crack of Doom with LA Chimney hangover..
I want to return next Merced low water to refresh the memory of the route ..
Jaybro - next year we also can make team 112 years old.
David Wilson

climber
CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 03:22pm PT
Here are a couple tighter pics.

You sure you went that way Peter? I started out there on your yellow dots and came to a 10" crack that we had no pro for and I couldn't fit in. I went up and down a few times and, not feeling bold, finally decided we needed bigger pro. I was right where your dots change colors and quite runout to a rattly piece well below that roof. Alejo went up and discovered a step around into the right hand crack system above the white Guano stain ! Looking at the guide book later, that seemed to be indicated as the route. The sun had pulled around onto us and we started baking so we bailed without doing the last short flare ( that looked very crusty with lichen ). I need to go back again. It's all time !

bottom of doom and despair
bottom of doom and despair
Credit: David Wilson

top of doom and despair
top of doom and despair
Credit: David Wilson
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Dec 17, 2012 - 03:42pm PT
Bravissimo!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 08:15pm PT
David your written description of the last pitch is perfect. My image may not be right. Anyway everybody, when you get to the last pitch there is absolutely no confusion where to go. You are right of your belayer and within I remember 20 feet of the belayer. The pitch is a very short one also.

Maybe this is right or as Ament says lower downthread, we aren't looking at the last pitch here:

eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
  Dec 17, 2012 - 03:56pm PT
Doom and Despair. How can't you want to climb them! Reminds of a medical team my wife once used - Harsh and Grimm.
Walleye

climber
The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
  Dec 17, 2012 - 04:25pm PT
All burley and no girly. Great pics. Thanks!
Matt's

climber
  Dec 17, 2012 - 04:44pm PT
thanks for the trip report-- have wanted to do this climb for a while

Question for those who have done this thing
1) Does this thing protect well with a #6?
2) Can you get to this climb without crossing the river?

thanks!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 05:12pm PT
Matt's,

You can approach it without crossing the river, but it takes more time, energy, and you're more at risk for getting into poison oak.
See this thread where people approach Hot Line from 41:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=836851&tn=60
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 05:18pm PT
1) Does this thing protect well with a #6?
with #9 it protects better

2) Can you get to this climb without crossing the river?
It is possible to get down from the top on Elephants on faint trail started near Elephants Graveyard , than climb Doom and rappel and walk off up to the top of the cliff.
It is even better instead of rappel- continue climbing up from the top of Doom ( but I never done it)
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 05:22pm PT
What's the rating?
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
  Dec 17, 2012 - 05:26pm PT
Nice job - get some!
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Dec 17, 2012 - 05:36pm PT
What a classic.......Nice job and good pics also.....

Stevo
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
  Dec 17, 2012 - 06:06pm PT
Lovely!

The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Dec 17, 2012 - 06:12pm PT
There should be a way to approach Doom and Despair from above by scrambling down the shoulder and maybe doing a rap or two. Of course then you'd kinda have to climb out...

There are already rap anchors in the vicinity of Hairline/Moon Germs for those routes and Doom and Despair are just around the corner.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Dec 17, 2012 - 06:32pm PT
What happened to the fourth pitch, the crux? Did you rappel
after the third? Most people don't realize the crux is this
really easy-looking wall at the top. It looks about like a final
summit ledge or something, but there is a thin crack up through the
final little block face, and that's the crux of the whole climb.
When I did the route with Royal and Dave Rearick, Royal tried to
trick me and said, "Here, Pat, why don't you take this last easy
pitch." I was impressed that Chuck originally led this on-sight,
way back at the beginning of the 1960's, no chalk, just his
great skill. The normal rappel is off the east side, after the
last pitch.

P.S. The photos above don't seem to show the final pitch.
Maybe it's higher on that final wall just partly seen.
If I recall (I did it in 1967, fall), the third pitch
was a very long tight squeeze crack much like
the upper Narrows on Sentinal, and you're way back inside the crack.
Then the crack pops through onto a big ledge, above which is the final
easy-looking headwall. This climb was nothing along the order of
the Twilight Zone, Pratt's masterwork, but for its day, a
few years earlier than Twilight Zone, it was
a really impressive exercise in various crack types (no off-width,
though).
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 06:41pm PT
yes we did not climb last pitch. Many reasons. It is true -it did not look hard. Also it did not look interesting . And we did not want this "class 3 improbable traverse" for original rappel near Straight Error. So we rap the route leaving last pitch for next time.
Another Good reason to return
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Dec 17, 2012 - 06:46pm PT
Those are GREAT pictures. I never climbed over there, and from the horror stories of a hard old school offwidth kind of scared us off when I was hanging in the valley.

I wish I could go back in time. Getting old and hobbled kinda sucks in that respect.

It looks like a beautiful route. So does Twilight Zone for that matter, but way too scary for my sorry ass.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 07:32pm PT
with camming devices Twilight Zone is not scary, just hard.
You physically can not carry to much for crack of Doom to wire it as you can do TZ
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 17, 2012 - 08:11pm PT
Cool pics and Stellar rock,
looks WAY hard!!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Dec 18, 2012 - 12:54am PT
Someone asked above: The last and crux pitch is 5.10a. It is however, weird and unusual and a leader could fall there, certainly, as it is also delicate for a moment as you try to step into this shallow basin you have come to from the wide but shallow crack that is disappearing. In my book, you have to do the last pitch; it is quite important and very much part of the legend of the Crack of Doom. And no one was ever rappelling this route back in the day, let me tell you. Someone has done Doom onsight unroped by the way. He doesn't want his identity revealed though. I third-classed Despair in 71 but had done it recently roped. I never got back to Doom for a rope less go, but thought about it for years.

To finish both Doom and Despair, I seem to remember just climbing onwards up The Crack of Destiny (Edit, see below, thanks) That gets you to the rim.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 08:47pm PT
Peter, good to know that last pitch is important.
the way up is not Crack of Deliverance, but Destiny or Pink Elephants
Credit: Alexey
WBraun

climber
  Dec 17, 2012 - 08:55pm PT
Yeah Crack of Destiny.

I used to free solo "Straight Error" a lot and then across the slab to exit out Crack of Destiny to the top .....
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Dec 17, 2012 - 08:54pm PT
Someone has done Doom onsight unroped by the way.

How do you get down?
bergbryce

climber
East Bay, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 09:08pm PT
wow, what an awesome TR.
Byran

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 11:24pm PT
Sweet photos. I carried a camera all the way up it but didn't belay at good places to get a decent photo of my follower.

I didn't care for the last pitch (linked it with the 3rd actually), but the first 3 pitches are all 3 or 4 stars. There is a pretty wild cave on the 3rd pitch, before the "narrows" roof. The chimney goes way deep into the formation. You could probably get pretty far back in there if you bring a headlamp.

Speaking of headlamps, this was probably the most epic 3 pitch climb I ever did. My partner was not too psyched on the climb since she had pulled a muscle in her back on Crack of Despair about a month earlier. So we were arguing some and not climbing very fast, but eventually we make it to the deep chimney at the top of pitch 2 just as the face is going into the sun. She didn't want to do the last pitch so we decided I would go to the top and then rap back down and we would continue rappelling the route so she didn't have to climb the rest.

All goes well and I get to a big tree at the top just before hitting the ends of the ropes. I rig a rappel and get back down. I'm quite thirsty at this point, having just climbed 200ft of chimney and that final crux in the sun. We finish the last of our water which helps a little (we only brought one 24oz bottle, plus a liter that we drank on the approach) and prep the next anchor down at the top of pitch 2 (a coupple good stoppers in a crack, but at a sort of awkward hanging stance). We get that anchor all equalized and nice and are hanging from it and go to pull the ropes, and wouldn't you know it, the ropes come about 30ft and then get stuck.

So now I'm soloing a bit up the chimney until I can get both ends of the rope and must then prusik up approx 170ft of squeeze chimney on my two 8.1mm ropes. Half an hour later I make it to the top extremely dehydrated. I belay my second up and she has no problem but it is starting to get pretty late at this point. Then there's the "improbable 3rd" to get over to the top of Worst Error and the rappel route. This actually ends up being two pitches of 5.0 X, and it's pretty awesome climbing but not what I was hoping for as the sun was setting. We don't actually find the first rappel anchor, but we find a decent tree with a clean rope pull and I leave a sling on it. The rest of the rappels go smoothly and we get to gawk at the awesome looking "Straight Error" 10c splitter on the way down.

We finish pulling the ropes and get them coiled up just as its starting to get really dark. Now there's a few things we had going for us as we blindly felt and slid our way down the hillside without headlamps. First is that it was September and all the poison oak was dried up. Second, I had been up and down the approach trail about a half dozen times in recent months and had it pretty wired and so we only got off route once. And third and most importantly, there was a full moon out which helped tremendously with the river crossing at the end. It would have been terrifyingly dangerous and maybe impossible to find our way across the Merced in complete darkness. I can't even imagine the frustration of being forced to bivy all night just a hundred feet from the car! But with the moon out it was an easy scramble across to the car and then a short drive to the pizza deck.

It wouldn't have been bad at all, maybe even fun, if it hadn't been for the dehydration. That's one of two instances in my life that I've gotten that bad. I had a lemonade with my pizza which maybe wasn't the best choice, because every drink was like battery acid on the roof of my mouth and down my throat.

So yeah, Crack of Doom, it took me like twice as long car-to-car as the Steck-Salathe did...
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
  Dec 17, 2012 - 11:07pm PT
Sacherer and Roper went down to do the Crack of Doom, perhaps 1965. Roper wouldn't lead the second pitch, which is almost without protection. Upon returning to Camp 4, Frank insisted that Steve explain the reason for their lack of success.

As I remember, both the Crack of Doom and Crack of Despair were named before they were climbed. I can't think of many routes in this category.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Dec 17, 2012 - 11:21pm PT
Bold!!!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Dec 18, 2012 - 12:43am PT
Someone said there were stories of a nasty off-width
on Crack of Doom, but as I said above there is no
off-width whatsoever on the climb. The second pitch,
which is much without protection (unless today's big gear
lets you get some) nevertheless is very solid if you are
reasonably practiced at Yosemite cracks. I remember leading
above Royal and Rearick on that pitch, and my rope
hung free far down to them, but I could get an arm lock
all the way, no chance of a fall. The third pitch, while
a bit strenuous is very solid and straightforward. The
first pitch is the most strenuous part probably. The
final short crux has protection and, yes, is vital to
the whole experience, a neat little problem that comes as
a surprise. The off-width is on Despair.
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Author's Reply  Dec 18, 2012 - 02:36am PT
Thanks for the comments.

I have to admit, I was pretty blown from all the climbing we did during the week but still felt pretty decent going in and still got quite an ass whooping on this one. The first pitch was physical and sustained. The second was long and unrelenting but the third getting into the squeeze was humbling. I think modern weak sauce grade inflation would put the first three at .10b/c, .10a and .10b squeeze. And not to spray, rather to illustrate a point but ask Alexi, I was joking a few days earlier while dancing my way up Cream that it was no harder than .10b. I was being kinda serious, ha.

On another note, I think we climbed half way up pitch 4. From the close ups Peter posted you can see a bay tree at the start of pitch 4. In one of my photos where Alexi is birthing from a squeeze you can clearly see that bay tree below us. I remember thinking we could downclimb to it and rappel from there if we couldn't rig an anchor where we were. I must have missed the exit and kept on squeezing my way in there. Or Peters recollection/dotted line of the last pitch is wrong.

Either way, I felt privileged to be there. I'll go back and finish it to the top for sure.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Dec 21, 2012 - 10:40pm PT
Sweet! This was one of those enigmatic routes that I wanted to try at some point. You've just bumped it up a few notches on my 'must do' list. Thanks for sharing such wonderful photos of the route - they're very motivational :-)
couchmaster

climber
  Dec 22, 2012 - 01:25am PT
Good stuff! Thanks for sharing it.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Dec 23, 2012 - 07:38am PT
Whillans did both Doom and Despair with Pratt, in 1966, and when
he returned to Colorado and stayed with me he told me all about
the adventure. He had a bit of a time with Despair, being somewhat
unfamiliar with off-widths, and his beer gut didn't exactly
fit too well, and he thought Doom was a cake-walk by
comparison. Personally I can't imagine the second and third pitches
would be rated 5.10. The second pitch, while unprotected (in our
day) was very solid. Unless you were inexperienced at cracks or
a bumbling bozo you couldn't fall out of it. The third pitch is
a big long back-foot chimney to the final narrows-like squeeze. Again,
it's a bit endurancy, but you're not likely to fall or even need
protection, the hardest isolated move maybe 5.7 or something, but
claustrophibic in that squeeze part at the top of the pitch.
The first pitch hasn't any single really hard moves but is painful
on the hands and a bit continuous, thus the very marginally 5.10
rating today, but I think it might have been thought of as 5.9,
back when. The final pitch is a moment of 5.10.
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 23, 2012 - 09:58am PT
TFPU. I've heard so much about these two lines. Almost mythical in one friend's mind.

Nice prose, and the pictures were worth 1000 words. I'm envious. Cheers.

(Thanks for the added insights, Patrick.)
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 25, 2012 - 11:22am PT
Sick humans. Awesome report and thread. If I can do meat grinder should I attempt crack of doom? How much alcohol should I bring? :)
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Dec 25, 2012 - 12:09pm PT
After seeing the photos, I'd say doing both sides of The Worst Error would be perfect preparation for The Crack of Doom, Left Side first.
Zander

climber
  Dec 25, 2012 - 02:51pm PT
Great trip report guys!
Climb on!
Zander
melski

Trad climber
bytheriver
  Jan 10, 2013 - 08:26pm PT
I;ve always avoided wide[spescily since chapman tormented me on generator crack,,dry heaving lactic acid,,]but like geometric curves of the female type these pics are very alluring,,I;ll be in the line on the left,,,,,
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  May 22, 2013 - 10:04pm PT
Here's a peek at the first ascent in 1961, from an interview Mort Hempel did in 1986, titled "Minstrel of Dispairs."
Credit: guido
Credit: guido
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 23, 2013 - 01:31am PT
Great stuff here!

Great climbing and great history, again.

Thanks Guido, for that last post too!
Ryan Tetz

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  May 23, 2013 - 07:30am PT
We racked up and tried to hike in once, but couldn't find a way across the river. It was too much water. The best we found that day was a large committing do or die jump down across 6 feet or so onto a slab. Bummer
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  May 23, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
Old school crossing of the river to Elephant Rock, circa 62. This pos Goldline had been there for years.

Rowell and the Merced R
Rowell and the Merced R
Credit: guido
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  May 23, 2013 - 04:30pm PT
guido, could you give more details how this crossing was done? And what specific place for cross..
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  May 23, 2013 - 04:52pm PT
What Guido isn't telling you is that after you crossed the river then, you had a brush field resembling a jungle to thrash through. A big rockfall in the early 1970's wiped out a couple of climbs, but also cleared all the brush.

John
N$ane

Trad climber
Granite Bay, CA
  May 23, 2013 - 07:08pm PT
Nice job Chadmeister!
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