Half Dome Crack aka Party Time
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The first moves.
Rotten rock, wide cracks, and runout friction make this route less than perfect. On the other hand, many of the old low altitude and easily approached Platte crags are closed now, for example; Sphinx, Squat, and Snake Buttress. Half Dome Crack will work the muscles needed for both Utah Desert and Yosemite crack sufferage. The dome gets good sun during the training seasons of late winter and early spring. A quiet weekday spent along the South Fork of the South Platte River almost makes up for the thuggish climbing. You could say this is the closest multi-pitch granite route to Highlands Ranch.
This is a very old climb. There is an old chopped bolt at the first move (5.9+). The same style of hardware can be seen up at Top of the World. Cleve McCarthy, who co-authored High Over Boulder, told me climbers started visiting Top of the World in the late 1950s. My original partner on the route, Robby Baker, found out about it from another Denver climber. Who bagged the first ascent is not known by me.
From any part of town, head south on CO Hwy 85/Santa Fe to Sedalia. Leave Santa Fe, turning right onto CO Hwy 67. Heading up into the mountains, mile maker 119 marks the first granite bouldering. This is the same road used for Devil's Head, but don't turn off at the Rampart Range Road. Keep going a few miles, past Indian Creek Campground and the Moonridge Boulder
, to the Sprucewood Inn. Turn right at the Sprucewood and descend three miles to the South Fork of the South Platte River via the 15% grade of Nighthawk Hill (see map). Once at the river, turn right (downstream) and Half Dome comes into view in less than a mile.
The first move is the hardest, a powerful 5.9 layback past an overhang. Try stepping up the left foot first; protected by a #5 cam. Once committed, the second gear placement is blind, #5 again. A #6 cam can be used as the third piece before the rest ledge. Next crux, squeeze past an A-frame to a wide hands crack, 5.9. Easier if you dare to use the loose flakes on the right wall; #3 & #4 cams.
Not much for anchors on the boltless and comfortable ledge. A #0.75 & #1 cam can be set in the horizontal crack right of the ledge. Also, a #5 can be set in the wide crack that starts the last pitch. Even with a #5, I would not set up an "guide belay" off these anchors. It is safer to sit and belay off the harness, old style.
With a 70m rope, maybe even a 60m, it will be possible to toss down a loop to the ledge below the A-frame, in order to haul up the big cams after they have been cleaned. That relieves the follower of having to squeeze through the A-frame with the big stuff.
The next pitch is longer, 170 feet. To get started, layback another wide crack, 5.7; #4 & #5 again. Face climb past an old, rusty, soft iron piton to the last wide crack, 5.3. Faceholds on the right wall make this wide crack fun, 5.5; #1, #6, & #5. Traverse right across a hollow flake and some nice friction up to the ledge at the base of the final left leaning ramp (be delicate to keep your belayer safe). There is a fixed 1 & 1/4" angle at foot level on the ledge, but using it will add to rope drag up high. From the ledge, climb leftward for 100 feet on runout 5.5 friction. Just before the final rotten summit crack, a large crack will take good cams; #3. Once up the easy but rotten summit crack, walk back 20 feet to sling the tree; the only anchor.
Walk off towards the south. There is another slab behind the main dome with some nice easy looking bolted slabs.
The climb can be fairly well protected with a cheaper rack, but the expensive stuff works nicely.
C4 size - how many:
#0.5 - 1
#0.75 - 1
#1.0 - 1
#2.0 - 1
#3.0 - 3
#4.0 - 1
#5.0 - 2
#6.0 - 1.
BETA PHOTO: Half Dome Crack.
Green - pitch one.
Red - crux la...
BETA PHOTO: A-Frame, 5.9?
Half Dome map.
Yellow - the Sprucewood approach d...
BETA PHOTO: The climb is the crack in the center.
By rob bauer
From: Golden, CO
Nov 23, 2012
This route is listed as Party Time in the last 2 'Platte books.
(Route #6 in the new book.)
By Jay Eggleston
Dec 16, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
This was a fun climb. My partner used big cams on the first pitch but back cleaned them all after placing other gear. The start of the second pitch took a #5 Camalot, and I placed a #6 higher on the second pitch. We both thought the climb was 5.9 and not 5.8 as listed in the Haas guidebook.