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Bishop Crack 

YDS: 5.12c French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: IX- ZA: 27 British: E6 6b

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch
Consensus:  YDS: 5.12b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6b [details]
FA: Christian Griffith, Henry Lester, 1982
Page Views: 7,007
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Aug 29, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (16)
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Climber: Carolyn Davidson.

Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>


While Bishop Crack is a two pitch route, the first pitch gets my vote as the best single pitch 5.11 crack in Colorado. Several years ago we headed up to The Bishop with our minds full of sending the whole damn unit, however, there is nothing like having eyes far bigger than our stomachs.

Bishop Crack starts left of center on the perfectly vertical East face, a brilliant yellow wall in the morning sun. A wide 5.8 squeeze gets the juices flowing for perhaps 30 ft. This seques into a fingers thin crack for a bit and then promptly widens up to butt and hips dimension for 15 ft of 5.10 wrestling. I thought that the hardest move was in getting out of the wide crack and onto the thin fingers (read two joints) crack. What follows is brilliant crack climbing for 50 ft on perfect stone. Wires and small cams will sew it up. Look for some fairly good edges on either side of the crack, for the most part you don't ever really have to jam the toes except for a few places where it really lets you turn on the motor.

A sling belay will be found at 100 ft from which it is possible to rap. For the true hard men, a hope we had long abondoned after 100 ft of relentless jams, the second pitch fires up on more of the same in a perfectly vertical crack that gets thinner and thinner the higher you go. From our escape stance below the upper 5.12 section, it appeared that the edges found on P1 had all but disappeared. Even doing only the first pitch, Bishop Crack ticks in as a brilliant climb.


Bring a full rack of wires, slew of thin camming gear, and several wide camming units.

Photos of Bishop Crack Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Mark Wilford on the Bishop Crack (5.12c), South Pl...
Mark Wilford on the Bishop Crack (5.12c), South Pl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb starts up the fingers section of the 'Bi...
Tony Bubb starts up the fingers section of the 'Bi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb on 'Bishop Crack' in the South Platte.  ...
Tony Bubb on 'Bishop Crack' in the South Platte. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Here is the ancient, crappy, rusted, bolt at the b...
BETA PHOTO: Here is the ancient, crappy, rusted, bolt at the b...
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb half way burried in the awkward and wide...
Tony Bubb half way burried in the awkward and wide...
Rock Climbing Photo: Someone put this nice stainless stud in next to th...
BETA PHOTO: Someone put this nice stainless stud in next to th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber: Carolyn Davidson.
Climber: Carolyn Davidson.

Comments on Bishop Crack Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 15, 2015
By Brian Milhaupt
From: Golden, CO
Jan 10, 2003

1-7-03 There is only one 1/4" bolt at the end of pitch one. I equalized with a nut, but who knows how long that will last. Come prepared to drill, leave gear, or climb and/or aid 5.12.
By Ben F
From: Benfield, Kolorado
Jan 28, 2003

Richard's assessment of P1 is good. Dump anything larger than a 2.5 Friend/1 Camalot before you leave the slot. From the top of the slot to the anchors Brian mentioned (still there), the crack is mostly #3 Metoulius in size (bring several). This made for great locks for my fingers and the rest of the climbing felt more like relentless 10 to 10+ (size matters). Keep in mind that you've just grunted out of a 10- slot and hiked for at least 1/2 hr. to get to the Bishop. Maybe that's included in the rating? Afterwards, you can do another lap on this sexy finger crack and/or do at least P1 of Flounder (solid 10) to the right about 80 ft..
By Brian Milhaupt
From: Golden, CO
Feb 1, 2003

Ben, I agree that there didn't seem to be anything harder than 5.10. The finger locks and the good feet Richard mentions reminded me a lot of Carol's crack at D-tower.
By Robert Stetler
Feb 22, 2005
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Last I checked the "anchor" had one horrible bolt and 3 good stoppers. It can be rapped off.

I urge those who aspire to do the second pitch to try to fire it ground up, a standard rope is long enough and it feels wonderful to try. I disagree with setting belays anywhere but at the very end of a rope or at a nataral stance, neither of these cases are true with the bishop.

It's a big bad long one pitch climb.
By SirVato
From: Boulder
Feb 20, 2007

I think the midway anchor is jingus and needs to come out.
It's a shitty 1/4 inch bolt that's bent and a nut.
If you're up there to climb The Bishop, you need to take it to the top. If you can't free it, it's really easy to pull on gear to the top.
Take plenty of green and yellow Aliens, and you'll be fine.
The finger locks through the crux are surprisingly solid!!
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Feb 20, 2007

"I think the midway anchor is jingus and needs to come out.
It's a shitty 1/4 inch bolt that's bent and a nut."

Was the bolt original material? If so, replace it not remove it. For my own part, I belayed off of that anchor and was happy to have it. If it is a retro-bolt, then it should be removed.
By John Peterson
Feb 20, 2007

The bolt's been there since at least '73 back when this was an aid route. The reason it's a free route is all those pins we used to whack into it :-). I remember huffing up the chimney with this absurd amout of iron hanging off me and being so glad to be able to clip the bolt without having to drive a pin while half-wedged in the chimney. Made it a hell of a lot easier to pass the belayer, too. I'd swear there were two bolts back then - split the route into 3 pitches.
By stevecurtis
From: Petaluma California
Nov 17, 2009

I agree with Stetler that this is a great one pitch route. Who cares what people have done before? You can cop a marginal rest, bruising your feet, before the upper section. I took a couple of 40 ft falls on purple metolius going for the redpoint. Most of the upper section, but not all, had good locks for me. My fingers are average for a climber of 30 years.
By Monty
From: Golden, CO
May 21, 2011

Bring a #5 to protect the first chimney. I was very happy to have it. After that, it's fingers forever!

As for the midway anchor, it was in great shape. Definitely agree that climbing the route in one pitch is the way to go, but that definitely takes a lot of gear.
By Peter
From: Tempe, AZ
Oct 20, 2012

You most probably don't need a #6 Camalot for the chimney.
By Shaun Reed
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 27, 2013
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

One of the best splitters in Colorado!

The landowner Jim came up to visit while we were climbing, and he is a really nice guy. He told us The Bishop is actually on his property and that he is cool with climbers up there. HOWEVER, he did mention that the approach beta in Haas' new South Platte guide is NOT correct! He wants climbers to take the trail up to the Dome and traverse across from there. We did both ways, and hiking past the Dome doesn't seem much longer. So please respect the landowner and keep access to this beautiful rock open

For people doing it all as one pitch, you definitely don't need the #5 Camalot (small gear can be had in the back).

You also don't need anything smaller than a green Alien/blue Metolius sized piece on the entire route.

Geat Beta: 4 green Aliens, 4 yellow Aliens, 2 #0.5, 1 #1, 1 #2 Camalots, and maybe an extra piece for the chimney.


Shaun and Joe
By Lisa Montgomery
From: Golden, CO
Oct 11, 2013

You can place a bomber #5 Camalot in excellent rock for the OW/chimney bit. It was the best piece I got in there. I don't think any other big gear is necessary.
By Mike Carrington
From: Centenntial
Jan 11, 2015

I was up at Bishop Crack last week, and someone has put a new stainless steel bolt in next to the old crappy one. The new bolt is missing its hanger. I would like to know what people think about the new bolt and the idea of putting a proper anchor in place.
By Dave Vuono
From: Reno, NV
Sep 16, 2015
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

I removed the anchor and hanger last fall/winter, because the entire Bishop Crack widened slightly from a freeze/thaw, and the manky fixed wires, which were already crushed, didn't fit anymore (don't worry the climb barely changed, although a purple C3 doesn't fit at the crux anymore). I personally feel that since Jim, the landowner, was not psyched on anchor in the first place, that it be removed. It's was also junky looking with the old black tat that was there (not to mention unsafe). I didn't bash the bolt in because someone may want to add another anchor bolt in the future although it's probably better to leave it as is, since we don't want to compromise access. If you're doing the 5.11 section only, you'll have to build a TR anchor and then aid to the top. You can get off the route with a 60 by rapping off climber's left from the top to a large ledge, or by bringing up a tagline.
By Mike Carrington
From: Centenntial
Oct 4, 2015

Why would you take the hanger off the bolt?
By Scott Bennett
Oct 15, 2015

A 90m rope gets you down from the anchor and makes a nice TR.

An 80m will actually work as well, if you build an anchor atop the finger crack. The bolted anchor is about 6m higher, on a low angled slab. Just have the last person lead up from the anchor you built to the bolted anchor, and then make two raps (hitting the intermediate bolted station to climber's left).


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