On the first pitch of Moby Dick, just getting done...
While it starts with a powerful, thin and technical finger crack, most of your time will be spent with the widening fist crack above. For those with small hands, the upper section will be off-width, but for those with larger hands, enjoy! The crux is right off the ground and pro is thin early on. Watch you ankles falling right off the ground: the base is littered with rocks.
On the west side of El Cap, about 100 yards up the hill (left, facing the cliff) from the toe of the Southeast Buttress (start of The Nose). Look for a small clearing at the base just to the left of a large dihedral with a gaping off-width crack ("Ahab" 5.10b). The climb starts up a thin finger crack, then widens on the otherwise blank face above
One or two small pieces for the beginning, and a bunch of big ones (#2-#5 Camalots) for the widening upper section. Rap rings on top. Note: requires 2 rope rappel. nuts: 1 set thin-med.; cams: 1 ea 0.5"-4.5", extra 2.5"-3.5"
Did this yesterday. Just to clarify, the upper half of the crack is mostly fists to off-fist, i.e. old style camalot #3.5/new style #4. Doubles in this size should be plenty. There are a few fixed pins on the right in a seam through the wide section, but they've seen better days. Pro: nuts, singles to #2 Camalot, doubles to #3.5. Maybe save the #2 for the small roof/overlap just below the anchor.
Agree with the post above: didn't find any off-width on this one. The crack takes fists and really good feet all the way up, and for me didn't require the heinous struggle that comes with true OW. If it were 1" wider...
Done this in the spring time 2006. The start was hard, but blst right through it. the O/W was a little tough. Slide my #4 cam up until I couldn't anymore. Would like to return again to climb this. Now that my O/W technique has improved.
I have huge hands, so I never really considered the upper part as part of the crux, for me it was just getting off the ground. I fell on a #2 metolius cam, right about where the crack opens up enough to jam. I believe two ropes for the rap off the other side, nice and airy. Left side of Moby DIck looks Heinous for the grade.
P.S. I don't remember there being huge boulders stacked at the base of the route! But that was 10 years ago.
My memory is that Mody Dick is not 5.10 but was always 5.9. The Left Side, however, is probably minimal 5.10 because it is an endurance problem. There is no single 5.10 move anywhere, but it (the left side) goes on and on, with a variety of chimneys and flares, etc.. The middle route, described here, is 5.9 at its hardest. Over on the right side is the off-width/ chimney leading to a long handjam, called Ahab, which is 5.10, led originally by Frank Sacherer.
Pat - Thanks for your talk about ratings. I can see how this climb could be considered a hard 5.9.
I didn't see anyone mention the second pitch though. Its a wonderful continuation with great handjams on perfect granite at a moderate grade. If you take this option rap with two ropes from chains.
If your just climbing pitch one you can rap with only one 70m rope. Do this by first rapping to the blocks at the base of Ahab. Then one more short rap off slings to the ground. Just make sure the slings are there first. Enjoy!!!
By TylerW From: Flagstaff, AZ Feb 12, 2010 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
Thought I was going to puke at the top, although no comparison to Ahab I'm sure
Great finger locks will get you past the .10a section at the start. The real business however is the ever widening fist to offwidth crack on the last 3/4 of the route. If you bring only two #4's be conservative with your placements, consider walking them or just bring a few extra.
By Cory From: Boise, ID May 3, 2010 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
This may be my favorite pitch of crack climbing I've done to date. The technical finger crack start is way fun and well protected, and then the fun just keeps going. The wider part up top isn't that bad, just trust those foot jams and walk right up! Pulling the roof on nice jugs was a nice way to finish the climb too . . .
This is super fun line but make sure you bring the right pro! I estimated hand sizes from the bottom. In reality, you should rack up to big fist (BD #4). There are a couple of pitons in a pin scar to the right of the widening crack on the second half of the route. I'm sure someone found the oval beaner I left on one of the pitons when I realized my #2's weren't going to cut it.
After walking by this route in the morning and feeling like the start looked quite hard, I got on it in the afternoon without any trouble. Truly a fantastic pitch, the kind that will stay etched in my mind.
Managed to climb it with a single rack from .4 through #4 and a set of large nuts. If you only have a single #4, be confident in your skills at the grade and the size. I set my #3 and #4 below the second lieback section and when looking ahead regretted it. But decided to press on and run out the last 40-50' below the roof.
I can't imagine where a #5 would be set on this route but doubling up on the #4's and singles for everything else would be my recommendation for the confident 10a leader.
Awesome pitch with a little bit of everything! After rapping off and coming back to the base for our packs, we met a girl at the bottom whose friends had brought her to Moby Dick for her "first crack climb". She was getting ready to follow the pitch. Not wanting to discourage her, we simply recommended that she tape up. We decided to sit down and have lunch and watch what happened. When we left 25 minutes later, she was still trying to get off the ground into the finger crack. For her sake, I hope she never made it to the OW. Sheesh. Some friends.
By RNclimber From: Riverside, Ca Jun 7, 2014 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
I brought three #3s and three #4s and used them all. I had to walk my last 4 also