Immaculate Concepcion

By Dave Pegg ,

At it again — Dean Potter grunts through the off-sized biz on his latest sandstone testpiece.Jimmy Chin

Potter climbs the mother of all cracks

Dean Potter has freed the aid route Acromaniac, formerly 5.10 A0, in Day Canyon near Moab, Utah. Though Potter didn’t rate the crack climb, he feels that it’s “a fair bit harder” than his route Epitaph on the Tombstone (Climbing No. 221), acknowledged as one of the desert’s hardest cracks, a potential 5.13+. Potter renamed the route Concepcion after the late José Pereyra’s mother. “The last time I saw José we had planned on spending the winter climbing in Utah,” he explains. “Then he went to Mexico and died [in a rockfall accident at El Potrero Chico]. When I got the news I was pretty disturbed. The next day I went out and found this amazing splitter.” Concepcion starts as a hairline seam and widens to a hand-and-fist crack at the top; Potter bypassed the original anchors and led the route as a marathon 220-foot pitch. It begins with a V9/10 boulder problem featuring a jump to a flaring pin scar, followed by a second crux of similar difficulty at 40 feet, with a long crank on tiny crimps. Then the crack leans awkwardly and widens to 1.25 inches — too wide for fingers and not big enough for hands — for 60 grueling feet. Potter redpointed Concepcion on January 25 after about 12 days of work. Apart from the first piece, a micro-cam that his belayer and wife, Steph Davis, slotted in by standing on his shoulders, he placed his own protection, clipping his last piece at just over half height before punching out a long 5.10 hand-and-fist section. “I didn’t want to be carrying [the weight of large] cams when I did the cruxes,” he explains. “It was cool to climb the hardest crack I’d ever seen and then finish it with a 100-foot runout.”

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