Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Northwest Branch- The Cracks

On the south side of the river at Northwest Branch, roughly opposite the Chaos Roof area, is a cluster of boulders that gets a bit less attention than the main boulders on the north side.  One of these, known as The Cracks (not to be confused with Crack Line), is tall enough to blur the distinction between highball bouldering and free-soloing.  With rocks at the base and the large pipeline just past those, and a few holds that may not be as solid as you would like, a rope would be well-advised here.  Even if you're going to boulder it, rapping down with a brush wouldn't be a horrible idea.  I went out a few days ago, and was completely covered in dirt, moss, and lichen by the time I finished scrubbing the holds.

To get there, walk back to Route 29 from the parking lot, cross the river via the sidewalk, and hop over the guard rail to access the dirt trail.  Walk a few minutes downriver on the dirt trail until you see a large boulder by the exposed pipeline.  Here's what you're looking for:

The "established" routes on this are basically the cracks.  The lefthand route is pretty obvious, but the righthand one is a little harder to locate.

1.  Dirty Crack (5.7):  Climb roughly along the lefthand crack.  If you happen to use holds in the cracks to the right, whatever.  Done as a bouldering problem, this has been listed as Crack Solo (V1).

2.  All My Heroes Are Heroin Junkies (5.10a):  Haven't done this one yet, but I think it follows the thin crack that starts a few feet right of Dirty Crack, rather than the one that branches directly off it.  There are a few crack lines here, so find something that looks 5.10a.  Or just climb whatever looks good at the time.

There's also supposedly a 5.10d crack on the right side, but I have a feeling this is the same as the 5.10a crack with a different opinion of the rating.  Anyone know?

Arm deep in Dirty Crack.  Still frame from video by Mark 'Indy' Kochte

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