Interview: Danny Parker On His Third Ascent of “Century Crack” (5.14b)
Danny Parker, 27, made waves at the end of last week announcing that he had repeated Century Crack, the interminable offwidth roof crack in Canyonlands, Utah, first reappointed by Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker in 2011. It was the crack that put those two—the Wide Boyz—on the map.
Hailing from Salt Lake City, Parker may not have been on many peoples’ shortlists for the most likely to follow in Randall and Whittaker’s footsteps, but thats just because those people weren’t paying attention. In the past seven years he has slowly been repeating off-width test pieces like Trench Warfare (5.12+), Gabriel (5.13c), The Forever War (5.13), as well as establishing miserably sized cracks of his own, like Jaws (5.12+) and Flavorblasted (5.13-).
Back in 2011, when Century Crack went down, it represented a new age in offwidth climbing and as such was not something Parker—who was still a relatively new climber at that point—ever thought he would one day do. But abilities, goals and what’s possible change.
Rock and Ice caught up with Parker to hear about his big send. Asked to describe Century Crack in two words, he said, “‘Me-ga,’ or if has to be two words, it would be ‘expletive Mega!'”
Read on for the full interview!
Q&A with Danny Parker
So what’s your history with Century Crack? How Long have you been trying it for?
I first heard about Century Crack when Tom and Pete did the first ascent (fall 2011). I was, at the time, projecting a 40-foot 5.9 offwidth at my home crag, and was blown away by what they had accomplished while on their America tour.
At that point I set a lofty goal to someday climb Trench Warfare, a local offwidth roof, which I completed less than a year later. At that point I figured I should set a goal that’s way outside of my league, and that was obviously Century Crack.
Three years ago, after I had repeated a majority of the difficult offwidths the Brits had sent on their tour, I started training on a home made roof crack for about a year and went and attempted Century. I fell early on the route and was completely unable to fathom climbing it in it’s entirety.
I gave up partially on my goal at that point, until a year ago, when Tom offered to help train me for Century Crack. When I sent it this fall it was my third day on the route and first real redpoint attempt.
What’s the climbing like?
It’s kind of like doing the monkey bars at school for 85 feet, however doing so with your feet and 100 sit ups. Blood drains out of your feet and pools in year head behind your eyes making them bulge, the lactic acid in your feet and legs begins to feel like a pressure cooker and sand rains down into your eyes. It’s surprisingly fun.
Did you do a full redpoint placing the gear?
Yes, I used a rack of 14 pieces that ended up weighing 13.3 pounds. I trained at home with a 12-pound sand bag on my harness to simulate the rack.
What’s the hardest thing about the climb?
The technical crux is in the first 15 feet where the crack widens to #6 cams and is too flared for double fist stacks. But the true crux of the route comes in the length of the route itself. It’s 85 feet before you can turn vertically and get a knee lock and move up to the top. The roof itself took me about 27 minutes to complete.
So help us understand: Why do you punish yourself with this whole offwidth climbing?!
I am a lover of offwidths, simply because they’re the best. No where else in climbing do you get a more gymnastic style of movement, where failure comes from giving up rather than minor errors. Offwidths require more from you physically and mentally than other forms of climbing I’ve found.
Did you talk about Century Crack with Pete and Tom at all?
I sure did, to the point of exhaustion perhaps. Tom and Pete are the only reason I was able to climb Century; they stepped in and gave me their training routine they had used to prepare for it. Tom would send us little audio recordings of motivation periodically. I ended up saving and playing one of those recordings right before I went for my redpoint attempt.
Is anyone else you know working on it?
Yes, my wife Ashley [Cracroft] is also working on it. She’s been on the same training program I have and is looking really strong on the route.
What’s next for you? Maybe Lamb of God? Or Millenium Arch? Or Crown of Thorns?
I would love to climb some of those other white rim routes, and hopefully will. My main desire is to return to some first ascent projects, I have out in the desert.
Check out the first redpoints of Century Crack by Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker here