Cracks split more than rock faces; they divide the entire climbing community - into those who love crack climbing and those who hate it. There is no middle ground between these two extremes! Lovers of crack climbing can find some of the world's most spectacular crack lines in the south of the US state of Utah – and "Fine Jade" is one of the great classics in "Yankee Land"! Follow us on the trip of a lifetime to crack country.
Castle Valley and its towers
The description "A crack is a single hold and step from bottom to top" is generally applied to climbing in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains – regarded as the mecca for crack climbing in Europe. However, the one and only true crack climbing paradise is located close to a small American town called Moab in southern Utah. On a high desert-like plateau, over a period of millions of years, the Colorado River has channeled out deep canyons in the sandstone. With the passage of time, wind and weather have carved out strange-looking towers and breathtakingly unique rock formations. The Rectory, an elongated rocky ledge over 100 meters in height, rises up from the Castle Valley plain like a mighty ship's bow, framed by the slim outline of Castleton Tower in the south and "The Priest" formation in the north.
The dream line
A narrow path leads from the parking lot to Castle Valley Road, through desert scree toward the mighty rock formations looming up from the barren plateau into the deep blue desert sky. The line crossing the narrow south face of the mighty ship's bow of "The Rectory" becomes clearer, more visible and striking with each step. When you reach the starting point one hour later, the sight is simply breathtaking: as if cleaved by a giant knife, a crack slices through the smooth rock face – forming the one and only logical line. "Fine Jade" has a deserved reputation as the mega-classic among the many Utah sandstone climbing routes. Just a few years after the first ascent, as recently as 1984 by Chip Chase and Pat Ellingwood, "Fine Jade" was already on the list of top climbs in the USA.
So it was hardly surprising that Steph Davis, a resident of nearby Moab, was so eager to introduce her German visitor Caroline North to "Fine Jade". On a sunny but icy-cold February morning, the two Mammut Pro Team members, self-professed crack climbing fans, set off from the parking lot with fully loaded backpacks on the one-hour trek to the foot of "The Rectory". This was Caro's first trip to the Utah desert and the sight almost took her breath away: "'Fine Jade' is an awesomely beautiful line – amazing cracks slicing through a vertical rock face! So you can understand why you would absolutely want to climb something like this! " she recalls later. And Steph adds "'Fine Jade' is a route you simply have to love! It is a uniquely aesthetic line."