The Best Crack Climbing in The US
According to Jam Walls
Jam Walls Founders Don Mealing and Dave Yerian have witnessed a lot of climbing history over the last 43+ years. This includes Dave’s contribution to introducing the world to 5.12 and 5.13 crack climbing routes with John Bachar. We thought it would be fun to take a step away from the consumerism of the season and just celebrate what we really love - crack climbing!
Learn From Dave Yerian’s Crack Climbing Legacy
For any reader interested in Rock Climbing History, especially Yosemite Climbing History - you’ll want to know about Dave Yerian. In the 1970s, which is arguably the Golden Age of Yosemite’s early Big Wall and Hard Free climbing era, Dave was one of the Valley Locals from this era. Dave was friends and climbed with all the greatest climbers in the World between 1974 and 1985 which is well documented in the documentary “Valley Uprising” on Netflix. Dave was one of the original “Bridwell Boys”, the baddest-ass climbers around, and his best friend was John Bachar, the best free climber of his generation. Together, John and Dave along with several other ragtag climbers introduced the world of climbing to 5.12 and 5.13 crack climbing.
Check Out Some of Dave’s Favorite Crack Climbing Adventures!
From the brief bio above, it’s clear that Dave’s impression on the crack climbing world has had a great impact on where and how we climb to this day. In our blog “Crack Tales”, he’s taken the time to tell just a handful of his epic tales and they are really worth the read. While the 70s weren’t that long ago by any means, that is when a lot of our history is founded and is something we absolutely love sharing. The passion we have for crack climbing is the reason Jam Walls exists and is how we plan to continue spreading the joy of crack climbing for years to come, no matter the season. We’ve highlighted a few of Dave’s must-reads below, we hope you glean some inspiration from them!
Check out this blog Dave wrote called “A Rope and a Rack” to learn all about his multiple climbs of Astroman on Washington Column.
For Dave’s crack climbing adventure at the Crimson Cringe in the 70’s, read this blog, too! In this photo (left to right) is Yosemite’s Hard Core: John “Yabo” Yablonski, Peter Mayfield, Werner Braun, and Dave Yerian circa 1977
Don’s (Modest List) of Favorite Cracks to Climb
We had a chance to check in with Don Mealing about where he most loves to climb...and boy did he have a lot to say! The man has climbed some cracks ya’ll, and he’s been doing it for over 40 years. Below is what Don calls his “modest list” of favorite cracks to climb, and this list is no joke with over 20 beautiful cracks to check out. From incredibly challenging to some lighter routes, every single one of these is gorgeous, worth training for, and absolutely worth the trip no matter where you live.
- 5.6 - Mike’s Books - Joshua Tree
- 5.6 - Satan’s Corner, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
- 5.7 - Ed & Terry Crack - Rock Canyon, Utah
- 5.7 - The Ramp - Mission Gorge, San Diego
- 5.8 - Outside Corner, JHCOB Wall - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
- 5.8 - The Crack of Dust, Mission Gorge, San Diego
- 5.8 - Bishop’s Terrace, Yosemite
- 5.8 - Bastille Crack, Eldorado Canyon Colorado
- 5.9 - Central Pillar of Frenzy, Yosemite
- 5.9 - Reed’s Pinnacle Direct - Yosemite
- 5.9 - Afterburner - Enchanted Rock, Texas
- 5.9 - Nutcracker - Mission Gorge, San Diego
- 5.9 - Green Monster - Rock Canyon, Utah
- 5.9 - Snowshed Wall, Donner Summit
- 5.9 - Commitment, Yosemite
- 5.10 - Firecracker - Black Wall, Donner’s Summit
- 5.10 - Clean & Jerk, Joshua Tree
- 5.10 - Bird of Fire, Joshua Tree
- 5.10 - Mr. Natural, Yosemite
- 5.10 - Outer Limits, Yosemite
- 5.10 - Midterm, Yosemite
- 5.10 - Bong Eater, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
- 5.10 - Goodro’s Crack, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
- 5.11 - The Wasp, Mission Gorge
“For those of you just learning crack climbing, every crack climb above will put a smile on your face, and give you lots of fun stories for the campfire circuit. Look these up on Mountain Project!”
- Don Mealing
Below are a few of Don’s favorite pictures from swimming cracks over the years!
5.9 - The Nutcracker, Mission Gorge
5.9 - Green Monster
5.10c - Goodro’s Crack, Big Cottonwood Canyon Utah
More Crack Climbing Adventures!
We took some time to catch up with another buddy, climber Danny Parker, to see what he’s been up to, and what his favorite cracks are to climb. It’s awesome getting fresh takes on cracks some of us have been swimming for so many years, and we’re looking forward to getting on the slabs with everyone again soon. It’s particularly cool for us to see Danny’s progress as he has been training with the Jam Walls Crax Volume in his home climbing gym. Below are just a few of his favorite cracks to climb with some rad photos of his adventures in those cracks, enjoy!
Danny’s Favorite Cracks To Climb
When he’s not out enjoying nature’s best recreation, you’ll likely find Danny training in his home climbing gym. Based in Utah, he’s got access to some of the best crack climbing there is and he definitely takes proper advantage of it! His passion for climbing is very clear, evidenced below by his photos, and in his own words, why these three particular cracks are his favorite. Thanks for sharing with us, Danny!The Joker
It’s a little hard to describe what it is that speaks to me about a particular crack climb, but there are always qualities that usually equate to getting me psyched. For example, a splitter on a clean face will always draw my eye more so than a crack in a dihedral. Cracks that zig and zag and climb dynamically are always a huge treat to experience, however, the daunting task of a clean single sized rope stretcher both scares and inspires me. Specific widths also increase the desire within me and usually correlate with sizes that are more difficult for me. Off fingers, tips, and tipped out #6’s are always at the top of the list.
Joker photo take by Mary Eden
The Joker is an all-around magic line to climb on, it’s a splitter that zigs and zags up a clean face. It’s primarily finger-sized however broken up by odd pods with hand jams, thus turning it into really fun stacked crack boulder problems. It feels punchy and dynamic and the falls are clean so you can space the gear and take an exhilarating whip.
Fallen Arches in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT is another inspiring line that comes to mind. Fallen is an overhanging left-leaning finger crack in granite. The granite has perfect little pods to catch your knuckles which makes for big and powerful movement.
Fallen Arches photo taken by Danny Parker
Beyond the first splitter, crux lays a sporty boulder problem to escape one crack system and gain another. This route is really techie and can feel like 5.13 or 5.9 based on how well you’re moving.
Lastly, Biggs Crack is a massive splitter offwidth near Zion. It’s five pitches, however, start with three straight pitches of tipped out #6 camalots to #7’s.
Biggs Crack photo take by Andrew Burr
This route is overwhelmingly aesthetic and beautiful, however daunting and fierce. It tests you and your abilities down to your soul, and if you pass the test it’s pure bliss.
Crack Climbing Life
Hit our comments below to share your favorite cracks to climb, your favorite climbing adventures, or your favorite piece of climbing history with us!
As always, if you’re curious about our home climbing gym equipment or professional climbing gym volumes, head over to our online stores!