by Jon Vickers /
FA: Gordan Douglas/13a/Big Cottonwood/Quartzite/Draws (fixed?)
According to me and my friends, Cross-Eyed and Painless is one of the best routes in the Wasatch, and I believe many others would agree. “Cross-Eyed” is a Gordan Douglas’ masterpiece that is one of the (not so) hidden gems in Big Cottonwood Canyon. With less than a 5 minute approach, this overhanging arête is a great “before work” project that catches shade until later in the afternoon. The route is sometimes considered stiff when compared to other 13as in the region, but it may simply be the powerful and technical nature of the climbing. It seems to require a large skill set and some mental fortitude to clip the chains on this one. The route is located on the far left side of Dogwood Crag toward the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and often has fixed draws, but if not the draws can easily be hung on rappel after hiking a trail around to the top.
The climb starts with a technical boulder problem in the V7 range which involves fancy arête footwork on small, flat edges. Most people stick clip the first two draws for this section. After the boulder problem there is a ledge where you will probably take a nap before heading up the exposed arête above. Above the ledge the climbing gets continually more technical and powerful before the redpoint crux punches you in the gut. This crux is a multiple move sequence (V6?) that involves long moves to less than inspiring holds. If you latch the obvious flat rail, look down and clip that bolt you wish you could have already clipped. Keep it together for some sequential moves through small holds to the top of the cliff. Either clip the chains or mantle and walk off the top.
Preparing for Cross-Eyed and Painless:
- Climb easier routes in BCC. Check out the Choss Garden, the Pile and the Speed Trap for good fitness on blocky quartzite.
- Inside, climb arêtes, especially at Momentum Sandy. The overhung arête on your right as you enter is probably the closest feature to Cross-Eyed you can get indoors.
- Avoid too many incut holds. Cross-Eyed has very few incuts and climbing blocky holds will get you used to that type of pump.
- Do 4x4s that mimic the moves on Cross-Eyed. It isn’t pure power or completely endurance; it falls in the power endurance zone and being able to link long sections of difficult climbing is the key. The woody at Momentum Millcreek is a great place to do this once. It is even possible to find/create sequences that mimic moves on Cross-Eyed.