Travis Melin placing pro on the crux of Birch Tree...
Birch Tree Crack is found just off the CCC trail on the southeast side of the Pedestal Buttress. Climb up on blocky terrain about 5 feet to access the crack. The crack starts out with you in a small alcove. Step up on a loose block and perform a tricky sequence to ascend the first section of the crack (the section with less features and lots of white chalk). Once above this crux continue on slightly easier terrain. Try to jam the crack instead of using the features on the face. It makes things more interesting.
This is a great climb and one of my favorite in the park. The crux is a short two to three move sequence to get over the widest section of crack on the climb. The sequence is all about the right jams and footwork. After that enjoy the beautiful crack line on your way to the top.
The crux is worthy of the climb's rating, the rest is sustained easier climbing.
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Campton, NH Jan 29, 2003
Birch Tree exemplifies the classic Devil's Lake rating system: Two moves of 5.10 plus ten moves of 5.6 equals a total rating of 5.8. I would agree with anyone who says that this "one move climb" is a desperate sandbag. Very accomplished climbers have flailed mightily on this one.
This is a great climb for moderate leaders; great pro and rests abound. So skip the TR and climb this classic on the sharp end of the rope. I disagree with Jay, there are no 5.10 moves on this climb, not unless you don't know how to handjam. So get out there and lead this classic if you haven't yet.
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Campton, NH May 9, 2003
Chase,Yes, if you get the foot beta correct and do not end up too far left, there are no 5.10 moves. However, as the massive amount of chalk on the crux testifies, many climbers totaly screw up the sequence. Hence the 5.10 comment. I agree with you that this is a great lead. The pro is bomber and the crux is well protected. Even the crux gear can be easily placed from the alcove. The moves notwithstanding, I would say that based on ease of gear placement, this is one of the best first 5.8 leads in the park.
How long ago did the tree fall? We all know I'm not a fan of crowds when climbing, so I stay away from the East Bluff/East Rampart like a plague, but I do recall a large, six foot stump there several years back. Is that still there? Or, am I thinking of something else again...
Yup. You got it, Tom. That's what I'm thinking of. I remember leaning against that stump to belay, once. I also remember using it to cheat a little when I first started climbing. Now, I'd use it to cheat a lot! LOL!
You can see the Upper D stump in the first of the 3 photos I posted.
The tree I'm talking about grew right out of the crack ~ON~ Birch Tree and has been gone for what like 20 years now.
By Colin Erskine From: Madison, WI Sep 19, 2005 rating: 5.8+5b16VI-15HVS 4c
What a great and classic climb. A few people were having trouble in the crux part but i pulled it off just fine. I even used a knee bar during it to reach up for the next holds.The route flows very nice and is great and i think everyone should try it.
By Paul Huebner From: Portage, WI Aug 18, 2007 rating: 5.85b16VI-15HVS 4c
After John Pruessner and I climbed this route in 4/89, we knew we could lead the Durrance on Devil's Tower. Like Queen's Throne -- this is an excellent -- but more difficult climb to learn how to jam up a crack in preparation for climbing at the Tower.
By Marty Combs From: Boulder, CO Sep 6, 2008 rating: 5.8+5b16VI-15HVS 4c
Protects well, but the crux is definitely HARD for 5.8. Great lead for those confident with 5.8.