(SHORT REPORTS)
Category:  Colorado
Elev: ~6,000-7,000 ft
Rock Type: Gneiss
 
2018, 2019
 

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON Climbing


"Several western canyons exceed the Black Canyon in overall size.... some are longer, some are deeper, some are narrower, and a few have walls as steep. But no other canyon in North America combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness, and somber countenance of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison." (Quote by geologist Wallace Hanson in The Black Canyon of the Gunnison: Today and Yesterday, published in 1965.)

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in western Colorado is a deep and narrow canyon with 2000-foot vertical walls on either side. For climbers, "The Black" is known for its remoteness, tick and poison ivy infested approaches, loose and unpredictable rock, difficult and unprotected pegmatite bands, challenging route finding, and its long and committing routes that top out on the canyon rim. The climbing is split between two major areas: The North Rim, known for its pleasant, long routes with warmer temperatures; and The South Rim, known for its foreboding, long routes with chillier temperatures. Adventure climbing at its best!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

High above the canyon floor but still hundreds of feet still to go to the rim!

How you finish a route in the Black.

The following page features some "short reports" from some climbs I've done in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I moved to Boulder in Summer 2019, so I hope to add several climbs to this page over the coming years. The Black is a special place and I've become fully enraptured by its mysterious splendor. This type of committing adventure climbing is my favorite sort of climbing. The reports on this page generally do not give as much written detail as most of the trip reports on my website, but they do provide some great photos and a bit of route beta and usually a nice route overlay. 



ON THIS PAGE:
(in a clockwise order along canyon rim)

ROUTE/LINK DIFFICULTY DATE CLIMBED

Color-coded: 
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter
The Arêtes (North Rim: SOB Gully)
Russian Arête 5.9+, ~8p, ~1800'
OCT
12
2019

  TR #: 373
Comic Relief Buttress (North Rim: SOB Gully)
Comic Relief  5.10, 8p, ~950'
JULY
4
2018

  TR #: 291
North Chasm View Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully)
Scenic Cruise  5.10+, 10+p, ~1800'
SEPT
21
2019

  TR #: 368
Journey Home 5.10, 6p, ~1200'
OCT
26
2019

  TR #: 376
A Midsummer Night's Dream 5.11-, 6p, ~800'
OCT
27
2019

  TR #: 377
Leisure-Summer  5.9+, 6p, ~800'
JULY
7
2019

  TR #: 350
Checkerboard Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully)
The Maiden Voyage (+ King Me)  5.9, 4p, ~400'
(+ 5.10-, 3p, ~300')
JULY
5
2018

  TR #: 292a
King Me  5.10-, 3p, ~300'
JULY
5
2018

  TR #: 292b
Checkerboard Wall  5.10+, 5p, ~650'
OCT
13
2019

  TR #: 374



      The Arêtes (North Rim: SOB Gully)       

Route: Russian Arête (5.9+, ~8 pitches, ~1800')  The Arêtes (North Rim: SOB Gully area)

Date: October 12, 2019       Partner: Tom Wright

"The Russian Arête, you know, like Russian roulette." (Quote by Layton Kor taken from Black Canyon Rock Climbs by Robbie Williams.)

Fortunately, half a century of ascents have cleaned up this line nicely, making Russian Arête one of the better 5.9 multipitch climbs in Colorado. The route follows a continuous crack system up the arête, involving 8 rope-stretching pitches of 5.9 jamming and stemming, mostly quality rock, awesome exposure, great belay ledges, and wonderful views. This route has an alpine feel, being 1800 feet or so with a 4th class scramble to the start of the first pitch and an exposed 600-800 foot scramble to the rim from the top of the last pitch. The route has a reputation of being a really long day, so Tom and I were pleasantly surprised when we topped out on the rim shortly before 3pm, exactly 5.5 hours after we started up Pitch 1. This route was one of my favorites in the Black so far.

Tom and I climbed this on the second day of an October weekend in the Black. Drive to Black Friday night + Russian Arête Saturday + Checkerboard Wall Sunday + drive back to Boulder Sunday night. A great way to spend a fall weekend! 
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Descend SOB Gully to the river. From here you can see the route and identify the obvious pillar on the left side of the ledge at the base of the route. Your goal is to get to this ledge. Walk along the river a couple of hundred feet, then ascend the first gully on the right (see annotated photo below). This seems to be taking you too far right, but at the top you can cut left (4th) and onto the ledge with the obvious pillar. Pitch 1 starts on the next ledge up, which can be accessed by a bit more 4th class scrambling. Pitch 1 starts at an obvious wide crack on the left side of the wall.
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1. 5:57 am: 6°F on the canyon rim. 11:00 am: tank tops.
2. 7:15am: Beginning approach from campground.
3. SOB gully trail entrance from road to campground.
4. Pretty fall colors on the trail to SOB Gully.
5. Black Canyon view from top of SOB gully. Russian Arête just out of view to right.
6. Headed down SOB Gully.
7. Morning sun on walls of Black Canyon. The warmth is coming!
8. One of the cool parts about this route is that the approach takes you right down to the river before you head up to the base of the route. This was the first time I had ever been down to the canyon floor. 
9. Just after this photo was taken, we headed right up the first gully which brought us to the ledge system below the start the route. Note the obvious pillar that is just left of the start of the route.
10. 
Heading up gully towards Russian Arête. This is the first narrow gully on the right after you walk along the river for a couple of hundred feet.
11. At first ledge system at base of Russian Arête. The obvious pillar in background is a good landmark to look for when identifying the base of the route. From where this photo was taken, there is still a short 4th class scramble to get to the next ledge up at the base of Pitch 1. You can see the next ledge and the wide splitter crack that marks the start of Pitch 1 in this photo.
12. On the 4th class scramble up to base of Pitch 1 on Russian Arête. Photo by Tom.
13. Another photo of the view down Black Canyon. It's such an awesome place.


Pitch 
1
5.9. Climb the wide crack system, which is a bunch of fun and athletic 5.9 crack climbing. A 70m lead gets you to a nice ledge below the next pitch.
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14. Base of Pitch 1. 
15. A closer up view, looking up from the base of Pitch 1.
16. Tom at the top of Pitch 1.

Pitch 
2
5.9+. Stem and jam your way up the steep corner. Pull through a bulge, and then move left across an exposed peg slab and belay beneath the main chimney system. 
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17. Tom starting up Pitch 2. Fun in the sun now.
18. Midway up Pitch 2.
19. The final stretch of Pitch 2.
20. Tom at the belay at the end of Pitch 2, just after the peg traverse at the top of the pitch. Pitch 3 ascends the corner above him.
21. 
Steph topping out on Pitch 2, high above the valley floor already. Photo by Tom.

Pitches 
3&4
Pitches 3+4 easily linked with 70m rope
5.9. Continue up chimneys and hand cracks. This section is  70 m rope stretcher or two pitches to a spacious ledge with a massive pillar. One of the best belay spots in the Black. Shade if you want it.
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22. Looking up Pitch 3.
23. Midway up the pitch. This would be about the start of Pitch 4 if you broke them up into two pitches.
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Looking down from the top of Pitch 4.


Pitch
5
5.9+.  Stem up the crack/chimney system above ledge. Thoughtful climbing with fun movement. Belay at a small stance on the right of the system or a small alcove just above this (the alcove might help avoid the semi-hanging belay at the lower stance).
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25. Tom starting up Pitch 5.
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The belay spots on this route are awesome. Basking in the sun at top of Pitch 4. Hard to believe it was 6°F only a few hours previous!
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Pitch 5. Thoughtful climbing with fun movement.
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Nearing the top of Pitch 5. Photo by Tom.


Pitch
6
5.9. Continue up the crack/chimney system. When the climbing begins to ease up around 30 m, trend right on low 5th class terrain to the end of the rope.
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29. Looking up Pitch 6. More stemming/chimneying/and jamming ahead!
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Photo taken while leading Pitch 6.
31. This photo was taken around where the terrain eased and I cut right.


Pitches
7&8
5.7. Choose your own 5.7 adventure for about 300-400 feet up and right, eventually moving back left to a ledge where some parties choose to unrope. We tried to climb this as one long pitch with some simulclimbing, but rope drag forced us into two pitches. The "official" end of this section is at a pillar of stacked blocks. We unroped here and put on approach shoes for the final scramble to the top.
Note: Our route description only mentioned this 5.7 option for Pitches 7&8, but the topo did note a direct finish that climbs a couple more pitches of 5.10- cracks Next time I would opt for the direct finish for some more good pitches of crack climbing!
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32. Tom starting the lead up the "choose your own 5.7 adventure" of Pitches 7 and 8.
33. The final 5th class moves before we unroped.
34. A photo looking down at the pillar of stacked blocks which marks the "official" end of the roped 5th class section.


600-800' 4th class scramble to rim
3rd to 4th or low 5th. Approximately 600-800 feet of exposed 3rd-4th class scrambling along the ridge to the top. The part just below the rim is listed in some descriptions of low 5th, but we felt it was 4th class and chose not to rope up. 
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35. Steph on the arête at the start of the final 600-800 foot scramble to the top. Photo by Tom.
36. Looking up the arête from just after we unroped. This is a short section of steep 4th.
37. The remainder of the terrain to the top.
38. Tom posing for a photo on the upper arête.
39. An exposed slab just below the rim. This might be the "low 5th" that people rope up for, but we were in our approach shoes and it felt like 4th, just exposed.
40. Some giant quartz crystals just below the rim.

Top out on rim and hike back to camp-ground
Pop out on the canyon rim. From here, head into the woods until you reach the North Vista Trail. Stroll back to the ranger station!
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41. Tom enjoying the view from the rim at the top of Russian Arête. 
42. Tom is a geologist, so he pointed out the interesting contact of sandstone and gneiss on the canyon rim. There is about 1.5 billion years of rock lost between these contacts (due to erosion).
43. A beautiful fall afternoon hike on the North Vista Trail between top of Russian Arête and the Ranger Station.
44. A typical October weekend on the Ranger Station white board.
45. Putting together the route overlay at the campground table. An office doesn't get much better than this!






      Comic Relief Buttress (North Rim: SOB Gully)     

Route: Comic Relief (5.10, 8 pitches, ~950')  Comic Relief Buttress (North Rim: SOB Gully area)

Date: July 4, 2018        Partner: Tony Bubb

Comic Relief is an excellent introduction to 5.10 climbing in the Black, with clean rock, good pro, easy routefinding, and a relatively short day. The climb stays in the shade until early afternoon, so it's a good choice for hot weather. This is one of the more popular routes in the Black.

This was the first route I ever climbed in the Black. July isn't the ideal time to be climbing in the Black, but I was passing through Colorado and just wanted to check this area out. Comic Relief is a good choice because it is one of the few routes on the North Rim with morning shade. Tony and I started early, and the temperatures during the climb were surprisingly tolerable in the shade, comfortable even. We climbed the Escape pitches all the way to the rim (avoiding the hot hike up a gully to the rim); one of the perks of climbs in The Black is that many of them top out right on the rim, mere minutes from the campground. In fact, the Escape pitches topped out 100 feet from our campsite!
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Descend the SOB gully almost to the river, to a white, polished slabby area under the third prominent buttress on your left. Scramble up to a large vegetated area below the wall; from here, scramble 4th and easy 5th class up and right to a small ledge below the obvious left-facing corner with a finger crack (the "Vector Traverse" on Escape Artist goes up and left from here). 
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1. The start of the SOB Gully is clearly marked with a sign, and starts on the road between the campground and Ranger Station (left side as you head away from campground).
2. Poison ivy in the SOB Gully.
3. Comic Relief Buttress as seen on the approach. One obvious feature to help identfy the buttress and the start of the route is the "Vector Traverse" on Escape Artist.
4. Annotated photo of the ledge system to get to base of Comic Relief and Escape Artist.
5. 4th class scramble to base of Comic Relief and Escape Artist. We put on rock shoes but did not rope up for this.
6. Morning sun on the steep rugged walls of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We were climbing on the shady side of the canyon.

Pitch 
1
5.9. Begin in a nice 5.9- corner which leads to the base of the arching crack. Belay at the base of the arching crack, or keep going to link Pitches 1 + 2.
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7. Tony staring up Pitch 1 of Comic Relief, a fun 5.9 crack system.
8. Second half of Pitch 1.
Pitch 
2
5.10 (crux). Climb the arching crack (fingers/layback crux) and continue up sustained 5.9 crack to a belay ledge.
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9. Pitch 2. This is the crux pitch of the route (5.10).  The crux occurred in first 20 feet for me. It was less of a finger crack and more about placing weight in the right directions, which was a bit tricky to do and place gear at the same time.
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Tony nearing top of Pitch 2. The upper part was fun 5.9.
Pitch 
3
5.7. Climb the left facing corner, traverse right at its top, continue up easy ground/slab to another short corner, and climb it to a good belay stance below a steep black corner. 
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11. Tony starting up Pitch 3. This pitch is pretty moderate, 5.7.
12. 5.7 corner near the top of Pitch 3.

Pitch 
4
5.9 or 5.10. Traverse left to a flared corner (5.9) with good hands which leads to a nice ledge. Variation: Climb the strenuous "Black Corner" above (5.10), then hand traverse straight left (supposedly 5.6) to the belay ledge.
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13. The 5.8 traverse at the start of Pitch 4. 
14. Looking down the 5.9 corner on Pitch 4. I always like flared corners, since I can climb them straight in and get really secure jams the entire way up. Larger people probably have to stem or one-arm jam the corner, which probably makes the climbing a bit harder.
15. Tony nearing top of the 5.9 Pitch 4.
16. Looking up the Black Corner variation (5.10) on Pitch 4. This way looks fun too.
17. If you do the Black Corner variation, you traverse left on this hand rail system to get to belay.

Pitch 
5
5.9+. Climb up easy ground and pull the bulge up and right. Then move right to the base of the tall left facing corner and climb the corner (5.9+) to the large ledge below Lightning Bolt Crack. 
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18. Tony on the 5.8-ish bulge on Pitch 5.
19. The steep corner on the second half of Pitch 5. The 5.9+ crux is near the top.
20. Steph finishing Pitch 5, silhouetted against the sunny walls on the other side of the canyon. Photo by Tony.

Pitch 
6
5.9+.  Climb the grungy but well-protected corner (climbs better than it looks) to a short pegmatite section, and a belay ledge on the right. Variation: Climb the striking Lightening Bolt Crack (5.11) on the overhanging right wall, sharp, strenuous, but well protected.
21.  21. Looking up the 5.9+ corner at the start of Pitch 6. This corner is a bit dirty, but the climbing is actually quite good. Lightning Bolt Crack (5.11) is on the right.

Pitches
7-8
5.7. (300' or more): Climb the lower angle, but at times runout, wall above to the top of the summit ridge. 
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22. Somwhere on the upper two pitches (Pitches 7-8). This is moderate (5.7 or so) climbing to top of Comic Relief Buttress. I had extended Pitch 6 into a long pitch to eat up half of Pitch 7, and Tony led the remainder of Pitch 7 plus Pitch 8 to the top (with perhaps 50 feet of simulclimbing on our 70m rope).
23. Cool quartz band on Pitch 7 or 8.
24. Steep and rugged walls of the Black Canyon of Gunnison from high on Comic Relief.

Bonus Pitches
9-10
Escape Pitches to rim
(or scramble up gully to rim)
5.easy to 5.8. We climbed the "Escape Pitches" up to the rim. This entails 2-3 pitches of easy 5th (up to 5.8). The alternative to the Escape Pitches is to scramble up a gully to the rim. Either requires a short rap to get off the top of Comic Relief Buttress—use the left rap anchor for the gully scramble and the right rap anchor for the Escape Pitches. 
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25. The gully you can scramble up to get back to the rim. The hot slog up this gully did not seem appealing, so instead we climbed the Escape Pitches to the rim.
26. An annotated photo showing the Escape Pitches up the ridge to the rim. This took 2-3 pitches, mostly 4th with a couple of 5.7-5.8 moves. Although the climbing itself was nothing to write home about, it beat the hot slog up the gully.
27. Rap anchor at top of Comic Relief Buttress. This is the right-hand anchor that you use if you choose to do the Escape Pitches to the rim. Make a short (~20 foot) rap to gain the side across the chasm. Apparently gutsier people then me tie into the rope and jump across.
28. Nearing the top of the Escape Pitches up the ridge to the rim. 



Top out on rim at camp-ground
Pop out at the campground (ideally at your campsite!).
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29. As we were climbing the Escape Pitches, we joked about how cool it would be if we popped onto the rim right at our campsite (Campsite #4). And then we did!


Other photos from my first visit to the Black
Just some other random photos....not directly related to the climb.
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30. Road on the way to Black Canyon of Gunnison. Doesn't quite feel like the standard tourist-overrun national park!
31. Ranger Station on the North Rim. Most times when I went down there it was not staffed, but on one occasion it was and the ranger was happy to photocopy a route topo from the guidebook for me.
32. Must fill out a Wilderness Permit to climb at the Ranger Station. This is mainly a safety feature, since there the canyon is pretty wild and without cell service, so they need to know where to look for climbers if things go awry...
33. Looking down the deep and narrow Black Canyon of Gunnison from the left overlook on the Chasm View trail at the campground. So much rock.







      North Chasm View Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully)       

Route: Scenic Cruise (5.10+, 10+ pitches, ~1800')  North Chasm View Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully area)

Date: September 21, 2019       Partner: Natalie Huey

The Scenic Cruise is one of the most popular routes in the Black and one of the best routes of its grade in Colorado. The pitches are long and sustained, and the climbing is awesome and the rock great throughout. The Scenic Cruise is actually a 4-pitch variation to The Cruise, while the other 6 pitches on the route are shared with The Cruise. But most people just mean the full 10-pitch route when they mention "Scenic Cruise".

The Scenic Cruise had been on my list for quite awhile. Doug and I had tried to climb when we passed through the Black in July on a cooler/cloudier streak of weather, but we had bailed at the top of the first pitch when it started to sprinkle rain on us. So Scenic Cruise was high on my list for the Fall, once temperatures began to cool off. So in late September after a couple of chilly weekends on the Diamond, I proposed the idea of climbing Scenic Cruise to my new climbing friend Natalie, and she was game. We made the 5 hour drive from Boulder to the Black on Friday evening, climbed the route on Saturday, and drove back to Boulder Saturday night, arriving back just after midnight. It would have been nice to stay for two days, but I have to split my weekends between climbing and my studies these days. It was great to tick off this route at the beginning of the season and before it got crowded. Natalie and I are already making plans to head back again for some more routes this fall!
High Resolution Photo and Route Overlay:
High Resolution Photo of North Chasm View Wall (taken from Checkerboard Wall). Scenic Cruise starts at the base of the obvious right-facing corner system and pretty much climbs a crack system just a bit right of the skyline all the way to the top! Route Overlays:
   
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Descend Cruise Gully (scrambling + 2 fixed raps) until about 500 feet above the river. Start in the prominent, right-facing corner system. Approach: ~ 1 hour.
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1. Walking down the road in the morning darkness.
2. Rappel 1 of 2 in the Cruise Gully. The fixed ropes are super nice to have.
3. Rappel 2 of 2 in the Cruise Gully.
4. Lots of poison ivy in the Cruise Gully. But it was avoidable.
5. Sun starting to move down the walls.


Pitch 
1
5.8. Climb the dihedral to the terrace.
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6. Natalie starting up Pitch 1. We swung leads on the route.
7. Corner on Pitch 1.
Pitch 
2
5.9+. Move up a handcrack and then right across a face and then climb up through a .9+ roof bulge. Belay in the "v-notch" above.
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8. The hand crack at the start of Pitch 2.
9. The Cruise goes left, while Scenic Cruise goes right across the face into the crack system on the right side of the photo.
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The crux of the pitch is pulling through this roof. Great climbing!
11. Natalie following the pitch. The sun has arrived. We began to strip layers....

Pitch 
3
5.10+. Prepare for a pretty awesome 60m pitch of climbing. This pitch is the first of the two most physically-demanding pitches on the route, but the gear is great so its not the mental crux of the route. Conserve your gear though! Start off by stemming through a short section of .9+ and then launch into a section of .10+ fingers/laybacking followed by a lengthy .10 hand crack. Belay at a stance in the peg band. Nice lead Natalie!
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12. Natalie starting up Pitch 3. Nice lead Natalie!
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Awesome crack climbing midway up the pitch.
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Looking down. What a wonderful place to spend the day. (Photo by Natalie.)

Pitch 
4
5.9+ (R). For me, this pitch was the mental crux of the route. Climb up and left along the peg band up to a horn. It's a pretty good horn, but the next few moves will be taking you left and then above the horn, so I used a tip from my friend Dow and clipped my water bottle and shoes to give me a bit more reassurance it would hold in place. The next part was the crux and took me some time to mentally commit to it. You have to move up a slippery pegmatite hand rail with no pro facing a pretty unpleasant and possibly a bit dangerous fall/swing. The moves are probably 5.9 or so. Envisioning rapping off the horn and the walk of shame up the Cruise Gully was enough to get me to go for it. After this, it was pretty easy climbing up and then left to the base of the corner system that is back on The Cruise route.
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15. The start of Pitch 4. Climb up through the pegmatite area towards a horn above, which you cannot see in the photo.
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Since the slung horn is the last piece of protection before the crux, which is up and left of the horn, I weighted the sling with my water bottle. As a sidenote, this HydraPak water bottle is awesome. And no, I am not sponsored by HydraPak.

Pitch 
5
5.10+. Prepare for another awesome pitch of climbing  (well they are all awesome, but this one particularly so). This pitch is the second of the two most physically-demanding pitches on the route, but again the gear is great so I would have much preferred to lead this pitch than the previous. Climb up the corner, through the steep 5.10+ crux, eventually moving right under the roof to a 5.9 hand crack. A short section of offwidth leads to a narrow ledge. This ledge was in the shade and an awesome place to belay. Another awesome lead by Natalie.
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17. Natalie stemming into the crux at the start of the pitch.
18. Fun cruiser climbing in the upper half of the pitch.
19. Natalie enjoying a shady belay spot. It was the hottest point in the day on this pitch, so the shady belay was rejuvenating!

Pitch 
6
5.8. Climb the hand crack above the ledge, eventually exiting onto easy slabs. Move left and belay at any number of stances beneath the massive flake feature above. I actually climbed higher, halfway through Pitch 7, and belayed in a shady alcove. Although the topo mentions you can possibly link Pitches 6+7 with a 70m rope, it also notes the potential for rope drag if you do so. The rope drag is real, even with my minimal and thoughtful gear placements. But linking the first half of Pitch 7  into Pitch 6 seemed to work well and had a comfortable shady belay spot.
20.   20. The start of Pitch 6.

Pitch
7
5.8. Continue moving up along the left side of a pillar, around a horn, and chimney behind a large flake. Belay at the only bolted anchor on the route. This was a short pitch for us since I had linked the first half into Pitch 6. I would advise making sure your rope runs on the outsides of the horn and flake features to avoid possible rope pinches.
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21. Looking up Pitch 7. I linked the part you can see into Pitch 6 quite easily.
22. Natalie making the step onto my chosen belay ledge after squeezing behind the horn.
23. The final portion of this pitch chimneys up behind the flake and ends at a bolted belay.

Pitch
8
5.9+. This pitch contains the second mental crux of the route, but we didn't think it was as heady or possibly consequential as the mental crux of Pitch 4. Traverse hard right along a ledge system, and then move up and right through face moves (two bolts, with a few 5.9 moves above the bolts). Continue up and right to a stance below a corner/bulge.
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24. Natalie starting off the pitch. Go hard right.
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Another view of the start of the pitch, showing the only bolted anchor on the route.
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The face section.
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View looking down on Steph following the pitch. (Photo by Natalie.) r    

Pitch
9
5.9+. Climb through the bulge and up the corner. Make an airy traverse hard left on flakes to gain a corner/crack system. Climb up as far as you can, ideally  to a sloping stance below a final steep section.
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28. The bulge at the start of the pitch.
29. Traverse left here on flakes. There's enough chalk to make the traverse fairly obvious.
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A corner/crack system after the traverse. The good stuff just keeps coming on this route!

Pitch
10
5.9. Climb up the steep section, then follow easier cracks above to easier terrain. I climbed all the way to the terrace and belayed at an obvious tree. 
31.    
32.    
33.  
31. The steep section at the start of the pitch. This is the final bit of 5.9 on the route, as after this it is pretty mellow climbing to the terrace.
32. Fun mid-5th climbing.
33. The top of the pitch eases quite a bit. I belayed at the tree on the terrace in the center of the photo.

Top out on rim and hike nature trail back to camp-ground.
Walk left along the terrace and climb a blocky corner (4th) to the top. Pop out at the scenic overlook on the canyon rim. Hike the nature/overlook trail back to the campground.
34.    
35.   
34. The exit ramp. Almost there!
35. Evening light on the Black as we finished our climb. What an awesome way to spend a day.




Route: Journey Home (5.10, 6 pitches, ~1200')  North Chasm View Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully area)

Date: October 26, 2019       Partner: Tom Wright

Above a spicy 5.9 R opening pitch, Journey home provides sustained and excellent 5.9-5.10 crack climbing straight up the the southeast face of North Chasm View Wall. The climbing has a "blue collar" athletic nature. The position and views are awesome. It really doesn't get much better than this. According to the guidebook (and I would agree), Journey Home is arguably the 5.10- test piece in the Black.

I climbed this route on another October weekend in the Black with Tom Wright. Drive to Black Friday night + Journey Home Saturday + A Midsummer Night's Dream Sunday + drive back to Boulder Sunday night (and beat the snowstorm over the mountain passes!). We topped out at around 2:30pm so we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in an awesome place. 
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Descend Cruise Gully until about 15 minutes after the second (of two) rappel and just right of the fall line of the obvious Kachina Wings dihedral. Climb a pitch of low-to-mid 5th (decision to rope up or not is by personal preference and how cold your fingers are) to a ledge system and move left directly below the Kachina Wings dihedral to the left end of a ledge. Look up.
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1. Another beautiful clear morning in the Black. In the fall, clear=cold, so the temps were below freezing. But we knew we'd be in t-shirts in a few hours.
2. Annotated photo showing the approach to the base of Pitch 1 of Journey Home.
3. The low-to-mid 5th approach pitch to Journey Home. 
4. An easy 3rd class scramble across the ledge system to the base of the route.
5. Looking up the Kachina Wings dihedral, which climbs the right side of the same rib/arete of which Journey Home climbs the left side.
6. Tom on the ledge at the base of Journey Home. 1000+ feet of climbing ahead!

Pitch 
1
5.10 (5.9 R). The notorious spicy opening pitch to the route. Climb up and left on face holds to reach a spot where you can get in a good piece of pro about 15-20 feet off the belay. From here head up and right across the featured face to the pegmatite corner about, with significant 5.9 runnout along the way. Pull left around a difficult bulge (but with good pro now!) and continue upwards. Belay on a a small ledge below the main corner. 
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7. Looking up at Pitch 1. The route starts with some spicy 5.9 R face climbing on the left side of the photo, and then cuts back to corner above this.
8. Tom contemplating the first moves on Pitch 1.
9. Tom committing to the pitch. An awesome lead with cold fingers!
10. 
The first good piece of pro (a #2 cam), before moving right across the face.
11. Looking down the "direct start" of the pitch. This seemed to be the natural way to go, but upon looking down the crack you can see why the route starts with the 5.9 R face instead. The 5.9 R face climbing (right side of  photo) is excellent. The crack does not look like it provides very good protection or climbing. The climbers in the photo are at the base of Pitch 1.
12. This  bulge is the technical crux of the pitch, but it is well-protected.

Pitch 
2
5.10. Climb up the corner, eventually climbing through a slot and pulling through a roof (awesome!). Belay above at nice stance. 
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16.   
13. The corner of Pitch 2. All protectable crack climbing from here!
14. A slot and roof on Pitch 2. Fun stuff.
15. Tom climbing the corner near the top of Pitch 2.
16. It's all fun in the sun now!

Pitch 
3
5.10-. The climbing just keeps getting better on this route. Continue up the corner. The pitch ends with a hand crack through a pegmatiite band. Belay at a stance just above the peg band. Enjoy the view.
17.    
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17. Looking up Pitch 3.
18. Looking back down at Tom at the awesome belay seat from just after I started up Pitch 3.
19. Stellar corner climbing higher up on Pitch 3.
20. 
Tom topping out on Pitch 3 while I work on my tan.
21. I don't think I'd rather be anywhere else at the moment.
22. Checkerboard Wall basking in the sun across the way. Tom and I had climbed Checkerboard Wall route a couple of weeks previous.

Pitch
4
5.10. Another excellent pitch up the corner to end at a belay stance. This is considered the technical crux pitch of the route.
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28.   
23. Tom starting up Pitch 4.
24. Higher up on Pitch 4.
25. Tom enjoying some "better than Gu" at the top of Pitch 4.
26. Hard to believe we were climbing with frozen fingers just a couple of hours previous.
27. Looking down, the river already far below. Pitches are long in the Black.
28. Looking down the way we climbed up.


Pitch
5
5.10-. Move up and into a wide crack (our largest piece was a single #4 and we made it through it). I personally found this short section of wide crack to be the most difficult climbing on the route, but #4 is probably my hardest side to climb. Eventually trending black right to a ledge. Continue though one or two brown dihedrals, depending on how far you want to go.
29.    
30.    
31.   
29. Tom starting up the wide crack.
30. 
A photo of the wide crack section. We brought one #4 and got through it....
31. Brown corner system after the wide section. The rock quality is not as great here but the climbing is still fun.


Pitch
6
5.9. Depending on how far you went on the previous pitch, you might have another short brown dihedral to climb. Then trend up and left on junky slabs. The climbing is easy but loose. End on the walk-off terrace above.
32.     32. The final section to the walk-off ledge. Definitely not high-quality climbing, but it is quick and easy.

Top out on rim and hike nature trail to camp-ground
Coil up the rope, put on approach shoes, and walk left to the far end of the terrace, where you can easily scramble up to the canyon rim just beside the overlook. Sign autographs for any tourists at the overlook. From there, a quick stroll back to the campground.
33.    
34.    
35.    
33. The walk-off ledge.
34. The final scramble to the rim.
35. Topping out just beside the overlook.

Other photos
Random photos from the afternoon. We topped out at 2:30pm so we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in an awesome place. It was dark by 7pm, so we took the opportunity to get a good night's sleep.
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36. A typical October weekend on the Ranger Station white board. I recognize a few names on that list.....
37. I'll take the no fees bit but it's definitely not yet off season in the Black for climbers!
38. Water is not guaranteed in the Black, so always bring enough to get yourself through your trip. This pump is often dry (as it was when I took this photo).
39. We enjoyed a couple of hours at the overlook hanging out in the sun and watching climbers on Russian Arête. It was a crowded day on Russian Arête—we counted at least three parties.
40. Russian Arête. Tom and I had climbed this route a couple of weeks previous.
41. South Chasm View Wall across the way. I want to climb Crystal Vision in the spring.
42. This portable battery is great for allowing me to get a head start on photos and overlays on the road.
43. Studying stats from my sleeping bag. I sleep on occasion. =).




Route: A Midsummer Night's Dream (5.11, 6 pitches, ~800')  North Chasm View Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully area)

Date: October 27, 2019       Partner: Tom Wright

A Midsummer Night's Dream is known to be one of the better half-day 5.10/5.11- routes in the Black. The 5.11- crux involves a few thin moves of 11a on an otherwise 5.10 climb. In my opinion, the best way to climb this route is with the awesome 5.10 hand/fist crack Sex Comedy option for Pitch 5 and then to finish on the steep and sustained 5.11 crack system of Happy Ending. These pitches can be bypassed for easier but less memorable sections of climbing.  

I climbed this route on another October weekend in the Black with Tom Wright. Drive to Black Friday night + Journey Home Saturday + A Midsummer Night's Dream Sunday + drive back to Boulder Sunday night. We topped out on the rim around noon, which allowed us to just beat the forecasted snowstorm over the mountain passes as we made our way back to Boulder. By now I've become fully enraptured by Black and cannot wait for the next opportunity return.
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Descend Cruise Gully to just below the second (of two) rappel. The route starts on a ledge about 100 feet below the second rappel. Start 15-20 feet left of Leisure Climb.
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1. Hiking down campground road enjoying the early morning light and fall colors.
2. A queue at the first fixed rappel in Cruise Gully. Tom and I took the kind offer to jump ahead of them on the rappels.


Pitch 
1
(can be linked with Pitch 2)
5.9. Climb up a crack system through a bulge and end on a nice ledge. (Pitches 1 & 2 can be linked at 60-70m. We had planned on linking the first two pitches, but there was a party at the belay at the top of Pitch 1 when we started up, and we wanted to give them room. Turns out they were so fast we never saw them again...until noon when we took a stroll to the overlook and saw them climbing up The Odyssey....)
3.    
4.    
3. Looking up from near the base of the route. The climbers are on Pitch 2 of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
4. Tom cruising up the crack on Pitch 1. The climbers on the ledge below are the nice folks who let us pass them in Cruise Gully. They climbed Leisure Climb next-door.

Pitch 
2
(can be linked with Pitch 1)
5.11-.  From the ledge, continue up the obvious slot/crack system. There is a short section of 5.11- near the top of the pitch (Tom and I both found the crux to be enjoyable movement and relatively straightforward for 5.11). Belay on the ledge above. 
5.   
5. Looking up Pitch 2. Good climbing ahead.

Pitch 
3
5.9. Trend up and right into a right-facing corner with a series of small roofs. Awesome! (I had climbed this pitch when I climbed Leisure-Summer earlier in the year, and found it to be even more fun the second time around.) Above the final bulge, continue climbing low 5th terrain, ideally wall the way to a belay stance with an old fixed cam in the crack. 
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6. Looking up the corner of Pitch 3. More good climbing ahead.
7. An old ring pin on Pitch 3.
8. A pecker just above the old ring pin. I wouldn't trust a fall to this but it is a cool piece of history in the route.
9. Pitch 3 awesomeness.
10. 
A view down while climbing Pitch 3.
11. Looking down from the belay at the top of Pitch 3. The sun was moving its way down the wall.The top of Pitch 3 is just rambling easy 5th, and its best to stretch  the rope on this pitch (ideally all  the way the fixed cam belay noted in the topo, see next photo). 
12. A fixed cam at the best belay spot at the top of Pitch 3.

Pitch
4
(can be linked with Pitch 5)
5.8. A short pitch up face holds leads to the base of Sex Comedy or to the base of the blocky corner on Leisure Climb. If you belayed high enough on the previous pitch, this pitch can be linked with Pitch 5 into a 65-70m pitch.
13.   13. Looking up from the belay at the top of Pitch 3 at Pitch 4 and to the Sex Comedy crack above. We linked Pitch 4 into the Pitch 5 Sex Comedy pitch for a 65m lead to the terrace.


Pitch
5
(can be linked with Pitch 4)

Sex Comedy

5.10. Sex Comedy. Climb the excellent hand-to-fist crack/flake. Near the top of the crack, traverse right beneath some overhangs and climb up to the terrace above. (Alternative is to climb the 5.6 corner on Leisure Climb to the right of Sex Comedy.)
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14-15. The awesome crack on Sex Comedy. This is an excellent pitch that should not be missed!
16. 
Nearing the top of the crack.
17. 
A view of climbers on top of Checkerboard Wall summit block across the way.


Pitch
6
Happy Ending
5.11. Happy Ending. Climb the sustained crack system of the Happy Ending, located directly right of the Kama Sutra corner. (Alternatives are to do the 5.9+ Direct Finish (which I did when I climbed Leisure-Summer) or walk off the ledge to the left. But when we saw the Happy Ending we couldn't resist.
18.    
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18. The Happy Ending climbs the crack system that starts in the lower right of the photo. 
19. Tom halfway up the Happy Ending,


Top out on rim and hike back to camp-ground.
Pop out on the canyon rim. From here, a quick stroll back to the campground.
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20. On top at noon! Now time to leave the 70° t-shirt temperatures and drive back to Boulder where a winter storm warning was in effect...and hopefully beat the snowstorm over the mountain passes....
20. We made it back to Boulder just as snow was starting to accumulate. It was forecasted to snow over 6 inches that night.
21. My car the next morning....



Route: Leisure-Summer (5.9+, 6 pitches, ~800')  North Chasm View Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully area)

Date: July 7, 2019       Partner: Doug Hutchinson

Leisure-Summer links the fun first two pitches of Leisure Climb, the stellar long Pitch 3 corner of A Midsummer Night's Dream, two more pitches of forgettable climbing, and a direct finish pitch to the canyon rim. This link-up is one of the better 5.9/5.9+ climbs in the Black.

Doug and I had planned to nab a summer day of unusually cooler/cloudier weather and climb Scenic Cruise, but the forecast was for 40% thundershowers and when we felt a few raindrops at the top of Pitch 1 of Scenic Cruise, we decided to bail and go climb the shorter and less committing Leisure-Summer. It was an enjoyable day in the Black, but felt a bit low key compared to other climbs in the area.
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Descend Cruise Gully to just below the second rappel. The route starts on a ledge about 100 feet below the second (last) rappel in Cruise Gully.
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1. Hiking down the road towards Cruise Gully in the morning darkness.
2. The sign marking Cruise Gully. Looks like a new sign since last year!
3. The first (of two) rappels in Cruise Gully. Sort of committed now...
4. The second rappel in Cruise Gully. It's nice to have fixed lines.

(Bonus photos from bailing off Scenic Cruise)
We had initially planned on climbing Scenic Cruise. But the forecast was for 40% thundershowers, and when we felt a few raindrops just as we reached the top of Pitch 1, we decided it was wise to bail and climb the shorter and less committing Leisure-Summer. The rain turned to sun, but a spell of thundershowers raged over the area at 2:30pm. We probably would have still been on the climb (but near the top) at 2:30pm so we felt like we made the right decision. Best not to mess with Colorado thundershowers! I'll have to come back for Scenic Cruise.....(update: See September 2019 trip report!).
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5. Descending Cruise Gully towards Scenic Cruise. This takes you well below the start of Leisure Climb, so after we bailed on Scenic Cruise we had to ascend all of this again. A good workout!
6. Looking up at Scenic Cruise from below. The first pitch follows the obvious corner. Higher up, the route takes the rightmost of the two parallel cracks above the terrace.
7. The Gunnison River below.
8. Poison ivy! Ak, don't let the rope touch it!
9-10. Pitch 1.
11. The anchor at the top of Pitch 1. This was our first rap. We were able to descend in three rappels with a single 70 off fixed tat. We backed up the tat on the second and third rappels with a nut each.
12. The second rap anchor. Others have bailed before...


Pitch 
1
Leisure Climb
5.8. Climb the right-facing corner. Some wide stuff. A #5 might be nice to have for a few moves, but a #5 is not needed for the remainder of the route...
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14.   
13. Looking up at Leisure-Summer, which starts on the ledge in the photo. Pitch 1 ascends the crack.
14. 
Pitch 1.
Pitch 
2
Leisure Climb
5.8. Climb the cracks in the corner. At the top, traverse hard left to below Pitch 3 of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
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15-16. Pitch 2.
17. 
The traverse left at the top of Pitch 2 to get to the base of Pitch 3 of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Pitch 
3
A Mid-summer Night's Dream
5.9. Climb the long right-facing corner of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Best pitch of climbing on the route! (I climbed this pitch again when I climbed A Midsummer NIght's Dream later that year).
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18-22. The stellar corner of Pitch 3 of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This was the best (and hardest) pitch of the route. Nice lead Doug!
Pitch 
4
Leisure Climb
5.8. Climb up through face moves and intermittent cracks, following your nose.
23.     
23. Pitch 4. Just follow your nose up. I linked Pitches 4 and 5 in a 65 m lead.

Pitch 
5
Leisure Climb
5.6. Climb the blocky corner to the right of the arete. Probably the worst pitch on the route. Better climbing than it looks.
24.   24. Pitch 5 goes up the 5.6 corner to the right of the arete. I linked Pitches 4 and 5 in a 65 m lead. To the left of the arete is a nice-looking steep handcrack/flake (5.10) of Sex Comedy. Should have climbed that instead!

Pitch 
6
Direct finish
5.9+. Traverse the ledge about 250 feet to below a splitter crack. Climb the crack to the canyon rim. The crux is climbing through the steep pegmatite near the rim. Good pitch.
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29.   
25. The ledge at the top of Pitch 5.
26-29. 
The direct finish. Another nice lead by Doug!

Top on on rim and hike back to camp-ground.
Pop out on the canyon rim not far from the nature trail at the campground.
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32.  
30. Classic end of route pose in the Black.
31. My office. For about 30 minutes. Until....
32. ....the confirmation that we made the right decision to bail off Scenic Cruise. Probably would have been on the steep finishing pitches when the thundershowers arrived. Best not to mess with Colorado thundershowers!



      Checkerboard Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully)      

Route: The Maiden Voyage (5.9, 4 pitches, ~500')  Checkerboard Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully area)

Date: July 5, 2018        Partner: Tony Bubb

A great intro into Black Canyon climbing. An obvious line, entertaining, not very sustained or long, and (mostly) excellent rock.

This was the second route I ever climbed in the Black. July isn't the ideal time to be climbing in the Black, but I was passing through Colorado and just wanted to check this area out. Tony and I had climbed Comic Relief the day before and had found the temperatures pretty comfortable in the shade, so we decided to link two other morning-shade routes, Maiden Voyage with King Me, for 7 pitches and about 700 feet of climbing. Linking Maiden Voyage with King Me was a great way to climb all the way to the rim rather than hike up a gully to the rim as many parties do after climbing Maiden Voyage.
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Descend the Cruise Gully, which involves scrambling and two rappels (fixed lines in 2018). The Checkerboard Wall is obvious and a short distance from the base of Cruise Gully.
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1.  The start of the Cruise Gully is on the road between the campground and Ranger Station (right side as you head away from campground). You cannot see the sign from the road, but the trail is obvious and starts a bit after the trail to the SOB Gully.
2. First of two rappels in Cruise Gully. Both were fixed lines for us.
3. Cruise Gully as seen while climbing Maiden Voyage.
4. Looking up Maiden Voyage from base of Cruise Gully.
5. North Chasm View Wall, East Face. Scenic Cruise, Journey Home, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Leisure Climb (among other routes) go up this impressive wall. It was just too hot to climb anything in the sun on this trip.


Pitch 
1
5.9 (crux). The start of the route is the worst part of the route, ascending a dirty face into the crack system. Continue up, climbing through a roof (crux) and up some more to a belay spot below a wide crack. Some parties break this into two pitches. 
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6. Starting up Pitch 1. The route looks rather uninspiring for the first 50 or so feet and then it gets better.
7. The 5.9 crux roof.


Pitch 
2
5.8. Ascend the obvious wide crack, go around a roof to the right, back left to go around the next roof, then up some fun double cracks. 
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8. The wide cracks 5.8.
9. The double cracks. 5.8.


Pitch 
3
5.7. Climb up the huge easy dihedral to a large ledge with trees. 
10.  10. Pitch 3.

Pitch 
4
(Summit Block)
5.6. The route finishes up the summit block above with an obvious crack and corner over on the left. 
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11. The start of the pitch up the summit block.
12. Second half of the pitch up the summit block.

Descent from summit block
Rappel from the summit block back to the ledge. From here, you can either (1) hike across a forested ledge and then scramble up an exit gully to the rim or (2) hike only half-way across the forested ledge and climb King Me to the rim. Stroll back to the campground.
13.  13. From top of Maiden Voyage. Exit gully in the background (or climb a route like King Me to the top instead of slogging out the exit gully).

+
Route: King Me (5.10-, 3 pitches, ~300')  Checkerboard Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully area)

Date: July 5, 2018        Partner: Tony Bubb

Excellent face climbing and fun wide cracks. A great way to get to the rim after climbing Maiden Voyage. A notch harder than Maiden Voyage.

This was the second route I ever climbed in the Black. July isn't the ideal time to be climbing in the Black, but I was passing through Colorado and just wanted to check this area out. Tony and I had climbed Comic Relief the day before and had found the temperatures pretty comfortable in the shade, so we decided to link two other morning-shade routes, Maiden Voyage with King Me, for 7 pitches and about 700 feet of climbing. Linking Maiden Voyage with King Me was a great way to climb all the way to the rim rather than hike up a gully to the rim as many parties do after climbing Maiden Voyage.
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Hike <10 min on a forested ledge from the base of the summit block of Maiden Voyage to the base of King Me, which starts just right of some obvious vertical black streaks (you cannot see the streaks until you are starting to pass by the route).
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1. The path between the base of the summit block of Maiden Voyage and the base of King Me.
2. King Me starts just right of these obvious black streaks. You cannot see the streaks until you are starting to pass by the route.


Pitch 
1
5.10-. Climb up a steep face, past a fixed pin, and up and left to a ledge below the large right-facing corner.  
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5. 
3. Tony starting up Pitch 1.
4. Midway up Pitch 1. Note the fixed pin for pro.
5. Fixed pin. Might want to tie it off closer to the wall to avoid too much levering action if you did happen to fall on it.


Pitch 
2
5.9. Climb just right of the large, right-facing corner. At the end of the corner, traverse left under a cool nose feature.
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8. 
6. Looking at the giant right-facing corner from the top of Pitch 1.
7. The climbing up the corner better than it looks.
8. Climbing the corner. I thought this was a fun pitch.


Pitch 
3
5.9+. Climb up an offwidth to a hand crack through a small roof to the rim.
9.  9. Pitch 3. The roof is at the top of the pitch.

Top out on rim and short hike to camp-ground
You top out on the rim. From here, it is a quick hike back to the road between the Ranger Station and the campground.
10.  10. North Chasm View Wall, East Face. Scenic Cruise, Journey Home, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Leisure Climb (among other routes) go up this impressive wall. It was just too hot to climb anything in the sun on this trip.



Route: Checkerboard Wall (5.10+, 5 pitches, ~650')  Checkerboard Wall (North Rim: Cruise Gully area)

Date: October 13 , 2019       Partner: Tom Wright

This route takes a line directly up the improbable southwest face of Checkerboard Wall Buttress. The climbing is quite good but also a tad bit spicy...

Tom and I climbed this on the second day of an October weekend in the Black. Drive to Black Friday night + Russian Arête Saturday + Checkerboard Wall Sunday + drive back to Boulder Sunday night. A great way to spend a fall weekend!
Route Overlay:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Head down the Cruise Gully. Shortly after the second rappel, the gully opens up. Split off left on a climbers' trail heading to Checkerboard Wall Buttress. The route starts at a large ramp that leads up and right towards the center of the southwest face.
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1. Even completely gutted, Tom's new van made camping in the cold quite cushy.
2. Heading down Cruise Gully.
3. The first (of two) rappel in Cruise Gully.
4-5. Not sure if this is poison ivy or box elder, but best to play it safe and avoid it.
6. Checkerboard Wall Buttress. Checkerboard Wall climbs the middle of the southwest face on the right in the photo. Maiden Voyage climbs the obvious arête to the left of this face.


Pitches 
1&2
5.7. Climb  up the ramp, at around 20-25m heading left onto a steeper crack, climbing straight up to a higher ramp system. Follow this ramp system until it ends at the base of a junky chimney. This section is two pitches, and can be linked with a 70m rope or a bot of simul-climbing.
7.    
8.  
7. Looking up Pitch 1. Don't worry - it gets much better above.
8. Looking up Pitch 2, which we linked into Pitch 1.

Pitch 
3
5.9 PG 13. Traverse right around the corner, and out of sight of the belay. Climb a 5.9 PG 13 face to a thin crack with tricky small pro. Head up and right on easier terrain, belaying at a stance below the steep right-facing corner of Pitch 4.
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9. Pitch 3 goes right of the roof.
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Traverse around the corner.
11. The face with tricky pro. Tom is belaying a bit shy of the belay noted in the topo.
12. A chilly belay being teased by the sun on the walls across the valley. We probably should have started the route an hour later since it is quite cold in the shade in October.
13. The impressive prow of Chasm View Wall across the way (just right of the prow is Scenic Cruise, which I had climbed a few weeks earlier).
14. Zoomed in on climbers at the start of Journey Home on Chasm View Wall. To the left of Journey Home is Scenic Cruise.
15. Another photo of the profile of Chasm View Wall. Such as impressive prow of rock.

Pitch
4
5.10+. Make some tricky moves off the belay to gain the corner. There is a piton to clip before making the moves, but a fall here would not be fun. Then climb up the sustained corner for 20-25m. Where it starts to arch away to the right, plug in a piece and step left, climbing face into a shallow corner. We thought the crux was gaining the shallow dihedral. Kind of scary here. Belay at the top of the corner.
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16. Looking up the corner of Pitch 4.
17. Higher up on Pitch 4.
18. An old piton.
19. A climber from the team below us nearing the top of Pitch 4.
20. A view down the face from the belay at the top of Pitch 4. It is improbable that a route climbs this face but Checkerboard Wall route links together enough cracks and face features to climb it!



Pitch
5
5.10-. Climb up and slightly left into another small corner, clip a fixed pin and pull some heady face moves (bolt that was installed has been removed to respect the FA'ers wishes to maintain the original quality of the route) to gain the right-arching roof system above. Undercling and foot smear right under the roof. At an obvious weakness, pull over the roof and climb onto the face above. Continue up face climbing (kind of exciting with minimal pro) to a terrace below the summit block.
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21. Looking up Pitch 5.
22. The bolt that was installed on Pitch 5 has indeed been removed to respect the FA'ers wishes to maintain the original quality of the route and make the leader concentrate on figuring out the thin face moves through this section. I'd happily clip a bolt if it were there and we had no qualms slinging a nut on it for mental pro, but I also totally agree with the sentiment of maintaining the original full flavor of the route. 
23. The awesome roof traverse section. This was my favorite part of the route.
24. Looking back at the traverse section.


Pitch
6
(Summit Block)
5.6. From the top of Pitch 5, you can apparently traverse left below the summit block to above Maiden Voyage. But we didn't see a clear way, so we went right around the summit block, circumnavigating it on 3rd class terrain to the base of the final summit block pitch of Maiden Voyage. For a summit and a bonus pitch, climb summit block to top!
25.   25. Looking up the pitch to the top of the summit block. This is the last pitch of Maiden Voyage.


Descend from summit block, and scramble up gully to rim and short hike to camp-ground.
Enjoy the view, rap back down to the base of the summit block, and hike out via an obvious easy gully across the way leading back up to the rim. Stroll back to the campground.
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26. Tom on top of the summit block.
27. Chasm View Wall in profile. It's hard not to be impressed with this wall. A few weeks earlier I climbed the awesome Scenic Cruise which is just right of the prow. See the Scenic Cruise trip report for a high-resolution image of this photo.
28. A view of the gully we ascended to get back up to the rim.
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Tom is a geologist, so he pointed out the interesting contact of sandstone and gneiss on the canyon rim. There is about 1.5 billion years of rock lost between these contacts (due to erosion).