The line of the route is not hard to spot. It is a unique crack up the vertical west face of the giant boulder which forms the summit of Jerry's Quarry. The start of the crack is thin fingers, and is is covered partially by a huge "ear-like" flake. Mantle onto this, and continue up the thin crack with increasing difficulty. The crux comes at about 25 feet when the footholds vanish and the face overhangs a degree or two past vertical. After this, some nice finger locks replace the desperate finger-tip jams, and the angle eases slightly. Be sure to utilize the tiny but solid edges under the crack for your feet. Just before the mantle onto the summit, you have an almost no-hands rest, and one you will want to milk! At the top, savour your send of one of the world's finest routes, at one time one of the first routes graded 5.13, (hey, they had EB's and straight-sided nuts).
It's possible to scramble around the backside, where there's usually a short piece of rope to yard up and over the top, if you want a toprope.
Despite the widening appearance of the crack near the top, the largest pro it takes is #3 TCU (or #1 friends). Take 2 each TCU's #1 and #2, one #3 and some finger sized stoppers.
Placing gear is real straightforward on Equinox. I think that leading being a whole grade harder is a bit of an exaggeration. Harder yes. A full number harder, well... Regardless, Equinox is arguably the finest crack in Jtree and one of the best fingercracks in the West if not the entire country.
This thing is nowhere near "a full number grade easier" on TR. 5.11c on TR? Bwahahaha, that's a good one! If you're willing to take longish falls, there are decent locks/stances at the start, at the scoop, and above the scoop to place gear from. The gear is very straighforward, especially for a harder JT climb.
My 2 cents: This finger crack is simply amazing. The best I have ever seen on an intrusive rock. Leading it or TRing it? Not much different in my opinion. I say this because the thing takes perfect gear everywhere. Finger size cams just fall in. There are also some spaced, but really good locks- so if you're resting on em anyways, why not just drop in a cam as well? This crack was also the most painful I have ever experienced. I had flappers on my fingers afterwards. It is brutal. Smear those feet and yard on those locks, try not to bleed out... good luck. It is as good as it gets.
I have to agree with *someone*, it was 11d+/- on TR with "discreet" rope tension ;)-
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Plymouth, NH Oct 19, 2008
I have to agree that this climb is harder on the lead than on TR. I sent second go on TR, but have yet to send it on lead. There's something about being locked off on a painful fingerlock, trying to wiggle in a cam, while the feet are skating and the arms are pumping out. That seems to add some difficulty.
By Brad G From: Yosemite and else where Feb 1, 2009
haha, not sure I agree with that! the crux is 5.12 no matter what! the bottom may be .11+, the top may be .11-, but the crux? leading it didn't necessarily feel much harder than tr, just a little concerning because if you fall you may leave a finger. My finger went numb for 3 months after one attempt!
By C Miller Administrator Jun 8, 2009 rating: 5.12c7b+27IX-E6 6b
Bruce, some comments have been deleted in this. At one time there were a couple claiming this was a full number easier on TR vs lead...i.e. 11c on TR vs 12c on lead. Which, btw, is ridiculous. Even when those comments were in place, the reading comprehension and short attention span theater soon had folks arguing what you're on about.
I think this is the best route in Josh. If the first 15' were less painful it would be the most fun, too. It's easier to toprope, for certain, but four grades difference is a bit overboard. Maybe two for the pain factor of the first few placements through the crux. After that it's simply pleasure. Of course, this being a crack and all, my review is rather large guy dependant. A small female friend of mine has fallen off the top and finds the bottom locker.
I have to agree with Jay Knower on this one. I thought it was really difficult having to lead versus on TR. There ARE solid locks everywhere, but when placing gear I had my feet cut many times while still engaged on those locks. I also had to "wiggle" cams in there instead of just sinking them in. I floated up the line on TR and had a hard time on lead. I gave it one lead go and believe it or not, fumbled with the gear quite a bit also ( I thought I did pretty awful actually). I also got sketched doing the traverse at the top...my gear was terrible. I don't know if I would throw in a grade on TR, I would much rather just recommend to anyone into finger cracks to try it out. It is incredible!!! :D
12-23-13 Tweaked my shoulder and took three weeks off since my last visit to J-tree. Went there today, ran to the climb and led clean, it went super smooth. I was nervous to start but surprised that it went without a fight. My injury may have been a blessing in disguise as I got to rest. Stoked.
The late, great Californian Michael Reardon free soloed Equinox sometime prior to 2006. There are photos of him going ropeless on this hard crack. It would be safe to say that his was the first free solo of the climb.
There is a famous photo of honemaster Tony Yaniro flexing his veiny and muscled arm after pumping laps on it that I have seen many times.
I can't believe no one has commented on the amazing location. It's incredible to be on a climb like that, elevated high above the desert floor in the middle of nowhere, no else around. There aren't even any other routes on the face. All that definitely adds a special flavor to a route that's already a dream climb.