Difficult Desert Cracks
The southeast desert of Utah has seen a number of difficult cracks sent in the past month. This region of Utah, probably best known as home to Indian Creek, is often called „The Crack Climbing Capital of the World”. A handful of talented climbers have ventured off the beaten path to find a few sandstone testpieces.
In February, Dean Potter climbed Zen Garden. The route is a 40ft long, horizontal roof crack with a highball mantle finish. The route throws just about everything at you; tips, hands, buckets, pockets, campusing, and a lot of endurance. Potter did not give Zen Garden a rating, but did call it „the hardest roof crack I have climbed”. This says something about the route, considering Potter’s propensity for crack climbing.
In March, Alex Honnold sent two difficult cracks in three days. First was Bushido (5.13+), a 130ft long, arching crack that is everything from a .5 TCU to a #5 Camalot. The route was first established by Zach Smith, as Shogun, and ended at 60 feet. Later, Noah Bigwood extended the route to 130ft and made the FA of Bushido.
Two days after his onsight of Bushido, Honnold made the second ascent of Hong Kong Phooey. The route is 320ft long and has everything from, „techie face climbing to super-enduro fingers to super-burly finger crack campusing” according to Honnold. Dean Potter made the FA of Hong Kong Phooey and did not rate it, but Honnold says it is most likely around 5.13b – 5.14.
On the same day that Alex Honnold was making short work of Bushido, Rob Pizem was up to a project of his own. Pizem made the FA of Army of Darkness (5.13d). The route is a 45ft long, horizontal roof crack ranging in size from fingers to hands to offwidth. Pizem had this to say about Army of Darkness, „what was most difficult for me was being able to hold the core tension of being totally horizontal for the length of the route and having the power to not make any mistakes”.