Crack House Rules

By Jeff Achey ,

Steph Davis, crack-climbing diva from Moab, made the “first girly ascent” (her words) of the local testpiece The Crack House, a long roof-crack problem located along Moab’s Gold Bar Rim trail near Gemini Bridges. The Crack House is one of the more unusual bouldering formations anywhere, a series of cracks that lace the roof of passageways formed by a 15-foot-high ledge of bullet slickrock. Three main problems (all of which Davis has now done) link various cracks, but the longest and hardest, generally called the Full Crack House, starts on the far right side of the formation in a horizontal flare known as “the Birth Canal.” A voyage through the corridors ensues, mostly at big-fist and big-hands size, about eight feet off the ground. The difficult and frightening topout is the crux. Total climbing distance is about 80 feet. After doing the other Crack House variations, Davis had dismissed the Birth Canal as “too miserable and hard,” but this December she changed her mind. On her second day, climbing with a girlfriend, she linked through the Canal all the way to the finish, but did not attempt the highball topout, saying, “I figured I’d rest a day and come back with Dean (whose middle initial is “S” and last name is Potter, no kidding).” A few days later Davis returned, applied what she calls her “Audrey Hepburn tape job” (as in, those elegant Oscar-nights gloves which extend all the way to the elbows), powered through the Canal and another 50 feet of roof crack, and committed to the crux finish. “I topped out by climbing until the crack turns to a flare,” said Davis, “flung both feet up over my head and wedged my hips above me, and then somersaulted into a couple offwidth moves.” We would have liked to have seen that.

Steph Davis in the thick of it on the Full Crack House, near Moab.

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