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The Whale's Tail
Routes Sorted
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Amputee Love T 
C'est What? S 
Clementine T 
Dihedral One T 
Dihedral Two T 
East Slabs T 
Finger Crack T 
Free Speech S 
Gumbo T 
Gut Feeling T 
Horangutan T 
Jack The Ripper T 
Jim Crack T 
Kid's Climb T 
Left Arete T 
M T,S 
Martindale T 
Monument, The S 
NED (Nothing Except Dynamics) T 
New Cambria T,TR 
No Problem T 
Northeast Arete T 
Second Coming S,TR 
Spoof T 
Spoof Roof T 
West Crack T,TR 
West Dihedral T,TR 
West Face [Whale's Tail] T,TR 
Yorkshire Ripper, The T 

West Crack 

YDS: 5.2 French: 3 Ewbanks: 8 UIAA: II ZA: 8 British: D 2c

   
Type:  Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 160'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.3 French: 3+ Ewbanks: 10 UIAA: III ZA: 9 British: VD 3a [details]
FA: ?
Page Views: 9,355
Submitted By: Dawn DuPriest on Apr 29, 2001

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Eva leading West Crack.
Climbing reopened after flood MORE INFO >>>

Description 

In my opinion, this is the finest beginner's lead climb in the state. It has excellent pro and easy but airy climbing.

The traverse to the belay ledge is 4th class but exposed; it is a good idea to rope up on it. From the roomy belay ledge, the crack goes straight up - no rope drag and no route finding. The start is the most intimidating part, but it is easier than it looks.

Holds are generously placed in and around the crack and always where you need them. There are a few easy jams and manteling moves. It feels harder than 5.2 - it's steep, and the wind blowing through the canyon gives the climb some exciting exposure. It has beautifully solid rock and wonderful, wonderful pro. I placed my entire set of stoppers and several hexes into the crack.

The cable at the top is a good place to set up a rappel or toprope anchor; however, you can go to the top of Whale's Tail. Beware! A single 50m rope from the cable won't reach the belay ledge on rappel, and you'll have to do an exposed downclimb. Use a single 60m rope, or two ropes.

From the cable, you can also choose to traverse to the bolts over the dihedral, and set up a toprope there as well. Spend a couple of hours trying out the crack, face, and dihedral on toprope.

If you are learning to lead, you must make this one of your first! Beautiful.


Protection 

Large cable threaded around boulders at the top. You can sink your whole rack into the crack if you like - passive pro is best, lots of stoppers and hexes. If you like an anchor on the big belay ledge, a long runner to sling a boulder, and a couple of large hexes will make a bombproof one.



Photos of West Crack Slideshow Add Photo
BETA PHOTO
My first lead in CO! Photo by Cora McLaughlin.
My first lead in CO! Photo by Cora McLaughlin.
 Climbers.
Climbers.
New anchor with cable clamps.  A 1/2" wrench can be used to tighten them if in doubt.  Weight tested by a 200 lb rappeller.
BETA PHOTO: New anchor with cable clamps. A 1/2" wrench can b...
Leading the bottom portion of the route.
Leading the bottom portion of the route.
Look at two climbers on "West Crack" of the Whale's Tail.
BETA PHOTO: Look at two climbers on "West Crack" of the Whale'...
Al is out of the crack, but he sure is trying hard! Right near the crux.
Al is out of the crack, but he sure is trying hard...
Leading the West Crack.
Leading the West Crack.
Bob is working too hard here. Climb the crack Bob!
Bob is working too hard here. Climb the crack Bob!
First rappel on the new anchor.
First rappel on the new anchor.
Lisa is just below the crux to West Crack here. Her second climb ever!
Lisa is just below the crux to West Crack here. He...
David rapping off of the still-questionable cable after doing the West Crack (which was his first climb out of a gym).  Note the tops of his Converse shoes.  He didn't even slip.  The climbing is easy-breezy here.
David rapping off of the still-questionable cable ...
Al guns through the final mantle on his way to the anchor.
Al guns through the final mantle on his way to the...
Belaying from the top of West Crack.
Belaying from the top of West Crack.
New Anchor Cable. 5/16" steel cable rated at 1900 Lbs.  4 cable clamps. 2 Fixe 10mm stock stainless steel welded rings rated at 12,500 lbs. each.  Permit issued by Steve Muehlhauser at Eldo.
BETA PHOTO: New Anchor Cable. 5/16" steel cable rated at 1900 ...
Gear selection.
Gear selection.
Comments on West Crack Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 30, 2013
By Barry Gereb
May 25, 2001

Great climb, it was my first trad lead. you can avoid the ledge scramble on the descent by dragging an extra rope and rappelling over the westernly roof to the talus below.

By Aaron Shupp
Feb 4, 2002

This is a great date climb to introduce your non-climbing significant other to the fun that Eldo has to offer. It is not very intimidating, and your partner's success will give you a strong argument when you suggest going to Yosemite for a month or two.

By Dan Mottinger
Apr 1, 2002

This is a great climb for being so easy-- steep, somewhat exposed, and full of friendly holds where ever you look. Be careful pulling the rope down after rapping since the crack system will gobble it up.

By Alan Klein
Jul 26, 2003

I led this today. Still a great beginner's lead. Several pigeons are living in the crack, and just jump out at you as you approach. The fixed wire at the belay is getting quite frayed. It has cut up the old webbing, which was pretty stiff and sundried anyway (good for tomatoes, BAD for webbing). I removed the dangerous slings, and backed up the wire with a new sling. Careful poking your fingertips on the frayed wire while inspecting it and the sling. If anyone knows [how] to make [another] wire anchor, and has the equipment to do so, it would be a great thing to do for this well used route (you will accumulate much good karma).

By James Garnett
From: Bellingham, WA
Aug 11, 2003

Ah ha, Alan, so you must be AK; I think I've seen your slings on other raps in the area. I almost cut your new webbing off since it was marked "2002," but came to my senses after a closer look. The quicklink/rapring are showing some rope wear; anyone who has a spare quicklink might want to bring it up and put it in.

By Anonymous Coward
Mar 22, 2004

Easy climb felt like a 5.4..there was a "fixed" stopper yesterday and it looked like it would come out with a pound of a hammer...my hex and cleaning tool couldn't get it out...guess I need to hit the gym.

By William McGehee
From: Choctaw, OK
May 24, 2004
rating: 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a

Though the start appears very intimidating, a little coaching will have your green-leader up to the cable in no time. This crack will eat up smaller nuts, so please don't give your newbie a #4 to haul up there. Also, small nuts actually DO get eaten up here, so place as many as you can PLEASE! I like new gear, especially bootyed gear! A little secret I'll share for y'all: bring along the blue and black aliens. In case you come across a 'fixed nut,' you can place the alien next to it, sling it and stand on it and 10:1 the nut will move. Just a little hint...~Wm

By ac
May 25, 2004

Hmmm.... Can anyone actually tell the difference between a 5.2 and a 5.4? I'm not much of a climber - 5.8 usually feels pretty stiff for me; 5.10 is out of the question - but I've never been able to tell the difference. I like Gerry Roach's scale: 5.0-2; 5.3-4; 5.5; etc. Let's face it: even if you are climbing in approach shoes or hiking boots, there are simply not five gradations of difficulty between 4th class and 5.5.

By Jeff Gustafson
Jun 1, 2004

Great climb. Did this on a Thursday (no waiting). Very nice route, I belayed my second at the little alcove about a third of the way up to see if she wanted to lead the rest. As it turns out she did not, however this would be an option to get a beginning leader past the more difficult start and on to the easier top two thirds of the pitch. This crack takes so much great gear I was worried about running out of slings and draws... For those who need practice setting passive gear (nuts and hexes), this route is just the ticket.

By Rob Migliore
Jun 25, 2004
rating: 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a

Try to lead with only nuts. Seemed like a long route and I might of ran out of draws. Would be a good place to take a newbie, but the sketchy approach is best done in rock shoes. Also, not much room on the belay ledge to hog up while showing a newbie everything.

By Anonymous Coward
May 19, 2005

Great beginner lead. Consistent climbing, good exposure, nice straight line, pretty good rappel anchor. The crack gobbles (and sometimes keeps) good small pro. There is now a large fixed nut and a small fixed cam on this route. Much better than West Dihedral (to the right). Beginners want to crawl into the crack - this makes it much more difficult than stemming outside the crack.-s

By jay baichi
Oct 26, 2006
rating: 5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c

This was my friend's first climb outside of a gym. She loved it! I would recommend this to any first-time climbers to Eldo.

By tooTALLtim
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 12, 2007

Wow, thanks tectonics for a great beginner trad climb, it sure puts one at ease early in a trad career when you can sew it up.

By Ben Helgeson
From: Denver
Aug 11, 2007

Don't go to the gym after work. Go climb the West Crack. Downclimb the east slabs for a technical descent.

By B immele
From: Louisville, Colorado
Jul 31, 2008

I have a permit from Steve M at Eldo to replace the anchor at the top of this climb. He has approved the cable and rings and I hope to install it this week end. It should eliminate any distrust in the anchor as the cable was frayed and useless along with too many slings/rings.

Bruce

By HTP
From: Longmont, CO
Sep 15, 2008

The info on this climb says: One pitch, 160 feet. Just to clarify, one pitch is accurate, one 60 meter rope will do. It's about 90 feet from the belay ledge to the anchors. And the most challenging part of the climb is the approach!

By Rick Blair
From: Denver
Sep 30, 2008
rating: 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a

I am not incredibly brave and I found the approach not too scary, I thought it was over-hyped, my second disagrees. I went to the left and built an anchor south of the tree, the pictures lead me to believe I should finish at the cable, did I do a variation? Hmmmm. This is the steepest, longest, most sustained, airiest pitch I have climbed at this level but I can't argue too much with the rating because the holds are all there, I did it in approach shoes. Feels much more intimidating to me than the 5.4s and 5.5s on Wind Tower. I lead with all passive pro, the crack ate up nuts and hexes, clipped an old piton near the top plus one cam for multi-directional at the start and cams for anchors. The rappel start is very easy, rampy, perfect for a beginner. I recommend stopper knots because if you rap just a little to the SW, the ropes can be 5 feet off the ground.

B Immele - Nice job on the cable!!

By Matt Ting
Oct 4, 2008
rating: 5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c

As many of the previous posts advertise this is a great place to bring beginning climbers. Fun routes with nice diversity (West Crack, Face, Dihedral) and exposure. We did encounter some wasps near the top of the Crack and Face; hanging about in some of the pockets. Approach is more difficult than the climbing but the ledge comfortably held 3, fairly big guys ... plenty of space once you arrive. NOTE: a 50m rope WILL toprope the crack off the cable anchor to the belay ledge with plenty left on the ground. Not sure why, but previous posts stated that a 60m was necessary.

By Ryan Day Thompson
From: Big Sky, Montana
Dec 26, 2010

Did this with a buddy who climbed in his Converses. He did fine. The feet and hands are all there on every single move. I think this is a great introduction to airy climbing and a great introduction to climbing period. I was totally freaked out by the scramble up to it but got over it eventually. I think the crux and the opening move should make this a 5.3...if such a thing exists. As always, this EATS gear from #0.5 to #4 Camalot. GREAT place to teach gear placement and especially passive pro placement.

By Joshua Steenburgh
From: Longmont, Colorado
Aug 19, 2011

I think this is a great beginner climb, but I wouldn't call it 5.2. Seems harder than that, personally. I lead it yesterday and I hesitate to admit this, but I had some trouble with footing in the crux. However, it is easy to protect and still a lot of fun. I think for a beginner lead the West Dihedral may be a better choice, but that might just be me.

By Bill Olszewski
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 16, 2012

Best sub-5.5 climb I've ever done and as good as any 5.5! Not sure about the rating, but then this is an old school area. The line, the movement, the exposure make this a true classic at the grade!

By Eben Daggett
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 23, 2012

Gave this 4 stars because it is such a memorable lead for a beginner! Could be lead almost exclusively with medium to large stoppers. Exposed and steep but not scary. A great confidence builder! Definitely stiff for it's 5.2 rating, but the holds are always there and the climbing is easy. Really loved this route. The traverse to the belay can be a bit scary for some, but it is easy moving and can easily be protected if you choose to rope up for it. For those who are confused by the page saying the route is 160ft and a 60m rope works for the rappel to the belay... the entire route, INCLUDING the traverse pitch, is 160ft. The actual climb is just shy of 100ft and can easily be repelled with a 60m rope. This may be obvious to most, but as the route was not listed as a multipitch I was a bit confused.

By Bob Carmichael
Apr 29, 2013

Climbed this route yesterday with Billy Roos. He and I were climbers dating back to 1968 in Eldorado Springs. So we decided to go up the easiest route in Eldorado. We used to solo it often, but now we are senior citizens and it was an Adventure!

Bring a 60m rope to rap off the first pitch. Downclimbing the east slabs is not EASY and is time consuming.

The route loved Stoppers and Aliens and Camalots and ALL manner of pro. It is a GREAT beginner lead providing you've done your homework on placing safe gear.

Bill Roos, is head of the safety committee for Outward Bound and formerly a GREAT climber in his day with all manner of skills: rock, altitude, and snow/ice. Great to be sharing a rope with someone you climbed the Yellow Wall with in 1975.

Best

Bob Carmichael

By Mike McHugh
Apr 30, 2013

In addition to being one gnarly individual and about the nicest guy you'd ever meet, Billy is responsible for a LOT of the trail work in Eldo. Every time I'm looking at a trail disaster, I think WWBD.

Puts a BIG smile on my face to hear that he's climbing.