Wide Boyz Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker have made the first ascent of Crown of Thorns (5.14a)
in the “Crucifix Cave,” their new offwidth playground in White Rim, Canyonlands, Utah. The horizontal roof crack is one of the hardest offwidths yet
completed and likely the longest roof crack in the world.
Whittaker called it, “surely the biggest roof crack around,” although it is the shorter of the two perpendicular cracks that are the namesake of the cave.
The longer crack of the crucifix formation is the two climbers’ main project this trip. On their blog,
Randall and Whittaker note that the main Crucifix project “is
a whole new level of difficulty that we’ve never tried (around 9a+ [5.15a] route and V14 [8B+] crux). Neither of us have even looked at a route this
hard before never mind try and climb it.”
Whittaker writes in another post that Crown of Thorns, their warm up to the Crucifix project, is so physically taxing, that “you have to be willing
to throw up on route, get post-route skin grafts, and have mates to haul and carry your broken body home.”
In 2011, the Wide Boyz starred in an eponymous short film for REEL ROCK 7, in which they laid siege to Century Crack, also in Canyonlands, Utah. Both Randall and Whittaker climbed the long-standing offwidth
roof project and suggested 5.14b for the grade. Century Crack is widely considered to be the hardest offwidth on the planet.
As during their previous U.S. offwidth rampage, Randall and Whittaker have been busy on this trip, racking up several other first ascents including Silence of the Lambs (5.13b). While they hope to make progress on the Crucifix project during the remainder of their trip, wet weather and seepage in the crack have hindered their efforts thus far.
VIDEO: Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker's "Crucifix Project"