Black Canyon Stories

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 20 of total 217 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 17, 2006 - 09:56pm PT
I love the Black Canyon - it's absolutely my favorite place to climb. It's big, bad, and scary. Nearly everything is a Grade IV or more. You start your day, typically, by hiking down that awesome canyon by headlamp, and then you spend most or all of the day climbing back out. I've climbed out in the dark on more than one occasion.

Here's a story by Brad White (lifted from MountainProject.com) about doing Air Voyage with Derek Hersey circa 1990. It's also more or less a tribute to Derek, who, for those who didn't know him, was one of the warmest and flat-out funniest people you would ever meet. Air Voyage is a 13-pitch climb with a notorious, 60-foot section of offwidth on the 10th pitch that is rated 5.12-.

Greg, I don't know if you remember me, but you, Clean Dan, Derek and I hung out on more than one occasion at the campground on the North Rim swilling beers, (Sheaf Stouts, of course on the part of Derek and myself) way back when. I climbed a number of routes with Derek back then in the Black, mostly getting dragged up serious pitches. Those are very special memories for me.

If I remember correctly at all, Derek was not able to free the infamous OW. I'm almost sure that we did not have any more than one extra-large camming unit, if that: it just was never Derek's style to carry much gear for specialized situations. I think we carried a bicycle-type water bottle for each of us, a couple of Snicker's, and an apple for me (Derek did not believe in eating fruit.) in a small fanny pack. We may have each had a long-sleeve tee shirt wrapped around the waist, but certainly no real rain gear. I would never go that light today on such a major route, but I was far less experienced then and also I had tremendous faith in Derek.

We ran out of water long before getting to the crux OW and were really suffering. When we got to the start of that pitch, Derek reached into the crack and pulled out a bottle of something. It could have been urine and I would have guzzled it, but it was water with some kind of mysterious chunks floating around inside. We drank all of it and went on our way.

Derek may have free climbed to the old tube chock, rested on that, and then did a couple of moves of french-free using a large unit. He mostly freed that pitch with very little gear. Greg Kenyon (sp?) later told Derek that he had left the bottle of water in the crack a year or two previous to our climb. I never wanted to find out what the chunks in the water were.

I definitely remember the weird slithering required on the right-traversing, horizontal OW above the crux, finishing in the dark and coming really close to puking on the rim. I also remember the Anchor Steam that Clean Dan handed me at the top of the exit gully. I may have actually puked back at the campground.

Looking at Derek's handwriting on the topo that you scanned into the description for Air Voyage brings back some very nice memories for me, but also memories of how terrible it was when he died. Derek was one of the first people I met when I moved to Boulder 18 years ago, and was my connection to a bunch of very interesting characters in the climbing community. As strange as it sounds now, it never occurred to me that he might get killed soloing. The night Crusher called me with the awful news I was devastated. I suppose you could say that Derek was a bit of a hero to me, and I've certainly lost touch with some of those great and eccentric folks from the past.

The loss of Clean Dan removed me from those times one step further, even though I had not seen him for years prior to his death. Hope you are well, and thanks for the walk down memory lane.Brad White
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Apr 18, 2006 - 06:19am PT
I'm with you Grug, that place is awesome.
I only started climbing there a few years ago but have to concur that it is great. Certainly one could spend a lifetime picking out gems there. We'll be there May 12-20, come out. I'm trying to assemble a posse. e-mail me if interested.
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 18, 2006 - 09:15am PT
Hey Kevin. I might be up for going to the Black for part of that time - although it's just a little early for me to actually climb (shoulder surgery).

You know, I'm really hoping for an account of a Stratosfear ascent in this thread. I've wanted to do this since I first heard of it 16 years ago. Beginning about 20 pitches up, 5 horizontal pitches of 5.11 R and 5.11+ R. Put up by Randy Leavitt and ?? It's number one on my ultimate to-do list. Would take a really fast partner.
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Apr 18, 2006 - 09:21am PT
Interestingly, I talked to Leavitt about that route last year when I ran into him in Maple. I think my friend Tim has done it. I'll ask him to post up some beta.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
boulder, co
Apr 18, 2006 - 09:28am PT
Greg...Randy and Leonard Coyne did the FA. It was Leonard baby from the start. Randy was one of the few crazy enough to try it with Leonard.
BrentA

Gym climber
estes park
Apr 18, 2006 - 11:18am PT
What were all those little spoons for at the base of the wall?

Im too young to have so many Black stories...

History in the making...JOSH WHARTON!

He will climb EVERY route down there...most onsight faster than I can drink a half rack.
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Apr 18, 2006 - 11:59am PT
A pic to set the Flavor...


Stoned Oven 1994
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Apr 18, 2006 - 12:03pm PT
The Black is a totally awesome place! My first trip there shows the ignorance of my youth…. I worked in a climbing shop in SLC in the early 80’s. A friend of mine came in and had recently done the Scenic Cruise V 5.10+, about 16 pitches. All the stories that came out of the black in those days were of epics. My friend was like “this is the greatest route you gotta go do it!” After hearing that repeatedly I talk my partner into doing it and off we go, driving from SLC to the Black. When we hit the Colorado border I ask my partner to look at a map. You see, we didn’t have a clue where the route was. Was it on the South Side of the Canyon or the North…Oh SH&&! It is like a 2 hour drive around the sucker. My partner and I were laughing at eachother. “Great route you gotto do it!” We were suckers driving down to do a Grade V and we didn’t even know where the route was!

I vaguely remembered that many climbers camped on the North Rim so we went that away. We drove up just before dark and the place was friggin huge! Then I realized that we had no route description, no topo, hell I didn’t even know where the route was except I had seen a picture of the bottom which sorta resembles the Nose. When you are just east of the Cruise gully you can see the route and I checked it out, I told my partner that must be it! The plan had been to climb it the next day. Finally, we were saved by some wisdom and we decided to check this big sucker out more fully before jumping on it. The next day we scoped the route out and there was a seasonal ranger who had some topo’s. He was a really cool guy and he encouraged us. We copied down the topo and went for it the next day. Surprisingly, it went quite well until before the scary 5.9ish traverse that used to be protected with a manky bolt. All hell broke loose and it hailed and rained. We hung out shivering, too high to retreat, and pretty dumb in our shorts and windbreakers. I thought it was going to be the bivvy from hell, but it stopped storming. I remember leading that traverse being scared shitless, on the biggest climb I had ever been on at that time with a manky bolt and wet rock, it was all I could do not to stain my shorts. Of course we topped out in the dark. I cracked open a beer while lying on top of my sleeping bag and passed out after two sips…

The second time I did that route was also kind of amusing. I lived in Kansas and I didn’t know who to take out there to do the thing. I asked one of the most talented climbers I knew at the time,(Adam) he had just turned 15 and the biggest climb he had done was the bastille, but he could pull down and he had the right spirit. But I digress, the story really started in San Diego, 5 months before, where I was at an Environmental Engineering Conference and I sat down to lunch. There was an attractive female across the table with the title of Dr… The engineering profession is not known for its beautiful women so I was glad to sit at the same table. As I was talking to this women I found out she was from Colorado. It was obvious that she was a climber from her hands. So I told her that I had spent the weekend before the Conference at JT. She told me after the conference that she was headed to a climber friends house, the same people I had climbed with in JT! One of my best friends was also her friend! Coincidence. We had dinner together that evening and said our good byes.

So back to the Black with Adam, As we descended the Cruise gully it surprised me how much more popular this place was 10 years later. There was a party in front of us and one behind. When we got to the base of the climb, it is the same woman I had met in San Diego! After struggling while leading the second pitch, Adam was not up for leading. I was plenty psyched remembering how scared I had been 10 years earlier so I took the sharp end the rest of the way. The crux was driving home the next day. Adam had a learners permit but almost crashed so I took the wheel. Gassing up in central KS on the way home Adam wakes up, “I am so tired!” hahaha I thought as a sought out enough caffeine to see me home…
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
boulder, co
Apr 18, 2006 - 12:09pm PT
Astro Dog...


I did my first (the Cruise) route in the "Black" in 1981. The place still gives me chills every time I climb there.
paulj

climber
utah
Apr 18, 2006 - 01:45pm PT
I did Scenic Cruise on a 4th of July weekend in 1983 with Jim Brink, a Ft. Collins guy. We'd heard so much about the Black that we were scared sh#tless before even roping up. About halfway up--in the section with the series of slightly overhung 5.10 hand and fist cracks--Jim locks in a knee jam, cuts both hands loose and screams above the roar of the river, "I LOVE IT!! I JUST LOVE IT!!".

Probably my all time favorite climbing moment.
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 18, 2006 - 02:38pm PT
I remember my first climb in the Black - the Cruise, with Clean Dan Grandusky. What I remember most was the early (still dark) start to the hike down the Cruise Gully. For people who know Clean Dan, you might be amazed that HE woke ME up. He wanted to make sure that we were the first on the route. Hiking down that gully seemed surreal...and the two rappels down to who knows what made for even more adventure. We ended up topping out at about 1:45, but it was nice to be the first on the route.

I can't remember a bad time that I've ever had in the Black...the Goss-Logan, Journey Home, the Stoned Oven, the Flakes, Air Voyage...they're all special. Even getting lost on the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad and having to rap 8 pitches and hike out the hideous gully was fun. I'll probably end up doing Journey Home 20 times before I'm through.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
boulder, co
Apr 18, 2006 - 03:23pm PT
Greg wrote: I can't remember a bad time that I've ever had in the Black...the Goss-Logan, Journey Home, the Stoned Oven, the Flakes, Air Voyage...they're all special. Even getting lost on the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad and having to rap 8 pitches and hike out the hideous gulley was fun. I'll probably end up doing Journey Home 20 times before I'm through.


Seem a lot of people get lost on that section of the wall. I had one of wildest days climbing trying near/on/off that route. After 20 routes in the Black that is one were I got benighted.

Feeling cocky...one rope and normal rack we went for it.

Rapping in the dark, getting the rope stuck, climbing up to get the rope unstuck and then a bivy on a 2x2 ledge 500 feet from the ground, the river and water.

Out of water, no food and no extra clothing. One of the most beautiful nights I have every spend outside. Sun rose at 5:15 and we rapped, downclimbed to the ground. Barely able to swallow due to cottonmouth I raced to river and drank two quarts of the best water I ever taste. A nice climb out "the Walk of Shame' we were back at the campground and safety.

We only had to leave three camalots and some slings. By a stroke of luck, Greg got my cams and returned them to me.

Thanks again Greg.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Apr 18, 2006 - 06:46pm PT
Warren and I had no beta and no clue. We ended up cold-calling some guy named Keith in Montrose whose number we'd been given by I don't know who. Keith was amused, to say the least, and attempted to verbally deliver a topo/description for some route to the right of the Scenic Cruise, maybe the Leisure Climb? This effort brought us a couple pitches up to a bushy ledge of sorts, beneath a left-facing corner featuring a sustained offwidth for which we had neither the pro nor the gumption required to send. Round One to the Black.

Eventually, after roping up just to get out of the canyon, we saw some folks climbing the left shoulder of the Checkerboard and thought "that doesn't look so bad". We climbed something over there the next day, and it went OK-- all I remember now is some sketchy climbing in a dirty flared fingercrack over some bunk brass, and that topping out on the Checkerboard still required a slog up the remainder of that friggin' gully. That was enough for that trip.

Now I live 3 hours away, and I get on a route or two a year. It creeps me out just about every time, somehow. I can't imagine parking it there for an extended trip-- you live through one or two of those things, feel lucky to have survived, and are happy to go home in one piece.

This from what is probably the tamest outing in the Black: good rock, no-brainer navigation, splitter cracks, not too long. Yawn. At least you still get to hump it up a gully towards the end.
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 18, 2006 - 07:19pm PT
Bob. I believe that was A Moveable Stoned Oven that you got off route on? Turns out, 3 years ago, I started that route with my friend Clare Dunning. We got a late, late start on a very hot day.

The first part of the climb involves a fair bit of 4th class scrambling before getting to the 5.10 offwidth first real pitch. So I lead the pitch (in shorts like an idiot) and Clare struggles mightily on the follow. At the top of the pitch, he is nearly delirious with heat exhaustion, it's already late, and we decide to bail - no easy decision with that horrendous hike out.

We rap the offwidth pitch, do some scrambling, and then I belay Clare down some tricky 4th class stuff. Well, at one point, 60 feet below me, he slips off of a ledge and ends up taking a huge pendulum and crashes into a dihedral. After several minutes of me shouting – asking if he’s all right, he manages to speak and indicates that I can lower him about 25 feet to a ledge.

Well, I scramble down to the ledge, and it turns out he basically can’t move. By this time, it’s about 3:30. We’re still about 200 feet up, almost out of water, and Clare is thirsty as hell. So I take a couple of water bottles and scramble down to the river and return with one of them (I lost one to the river - doh!). I hang out with Clare for some time, and, eventually we realize that he is not going to be walking out of the canyon that day, so I give him all of my spare clothes, try to make him as comfortable as possible, and hoof it back out the canyon.

I arrive at the ranger station at 10:00 PM. Brent (the coolest ranger I have ever known) is there and he goes into action right away. Brent wanted to hike down that night, but was ultimately overruled by his superior. The rescue will occur in the morning. I spend the night at the ranger residence, after having a huge spaghetti dinner prepared by Brent’s girlfriend.

OK, this is getting long so I’ll use brevity on the rescue. The decision is made to hoist him out of the canyon – all 1700 feet. At first light, Brent and another hike down with oxygen, water, food, and a sleeping bag. At around 7:30 AM, most of the SAR team arrives. Doing all of the preparatory work seems to take forever. It’s not until about 4:00 PM that the hoisting actually begins. They (we, I was one of about 25) hoist him over the edge at around 8:00 PM. He’s taken in an ambulance to a hospital in Delta, and eventually released at around 1:00 AM. I drive him back to Denver that night. He was badly bruised but nothing broken.

Turns out, this was the longest (in terms of vertical feet) rescue ever that involved hoisting the victim.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
boulder, co
Apr 18, 2006 - 08:15pm PT
Greg...I let my partner make the decision on where the route (MSO) started and once I realized we off route is was too late. We continue upward, sideways, east and west. I climbed a few new pitches (hard 5.11+) left of Air/Eight Voyage pitches 5-8, saw some chalk and followed that.

I tried to traverse right to Air Voyage, did a serious, scary pitch to a wide-crack. Saving the last big piece I ran it out, pull the four friend off the rack only to have slip out of cramped hand and fall 1200 feet the ground. I wanted to cry. I told myself at the age of 52 I done with this place. There had to be a better way to spend my "Golden Years". I somehow reverse the moves and got back to the belay. We talked about options and then started to rap!

My wife described having a child as the most painful thing (three times, no drugs) she has ever felt. She also said said that a minute after its over...she would do it again.

Two weeks later I back climbing in the "Black".

The chalk belonged to Steve Levin and Alex Shannian. They also got lost a few days earlier trying to find Movable Stoned Oven.

I want to hear some stories from Brent A. Time to come out of the closet.
BrentA

Gym climber
estes park
Apr 18, 2006 - 09:37pm PT
God's truth....

ON the drive to the Black we are passing Pioneer Point (baby black canyon crag) Big fat lady waves us down, paniced style.

First thing out of her mouth "my dog went over the edge". My partner and I are thinking the obvious.

"We can hear him down there, my husband is a climber but couldn't get to him, he went to assemble a rescue."

Ryan and I dive in from the rim. Dog took a 30-40 footer str8 away onto a ledge, a little blood, but no dog.

We descend about a pitch down the only sane way off the ledge, a chimney (solo mind you) and see Max the 150 lb Burmese wonder dog f*#kn terrified. We leap frog him down the chimney, unwedging him, handing him down, rewedging him, climbng past the donkey show, rinse, repeat for about 200 feet.

We get hiim back UP to the rim right as the rescue team is arriving, hand him over, go puff down to run a push on the H wall.

Two months later the ranger I handed him over to is at a party at MY house...he regales the masses and lasses with the a great story of how HE rescued a 150lb dog out of Pioneer Point sans assistance...

In MY house, at MY party I was plentyyyyyyyyyyyy looped up, in fact if memory serves I started the night with 6 cylinders str8 from the Valley, green sticker and all that a bro dropped by for me...I busted his f*#king ass (verbally) and reclaimed my noble schmack down right.

It gets better, order another round...
marky

climber
Apr 18, 2006 - 09:41pm PT
you were saying, Brent ... ?
flamer

Trad climber
denver
Apr 18, 2006 - 09:48pm PT
I'd never been able to say I had a real epic, then I met the Black.

My first trip down one of her gully's was an epic and we never got on route.
Jeff and I had gone down the gully to climb the Scenic Cruise. However a poor weather forecast, the overcast sky, and the few rain drops we started to feel, made the descision to bail the easy.
On the way back up the cruise gully I feel a sudden, sharp pain on my right shoulder...I look down to see a Bee stinging me.
Not that big of a deal right? WRONG! I'm allergic to bee sting's. And my Epi-pen is on the rim.
Time to move. I kick it into high gear and make for the rim. Jeff being 25 years my senior can't keep up and tells me to just go.
So i'm pretty much running....solo up the first easy rap...then the second harder one. At the second I stop long enough to fix and throw a rope for Jeff.
I must have been a sight busting out of the top of the gully and onto the road. What do I see? Brent leaning over the rail at the Ranger station in his relaxed way. His expression barely changes as I come running up. I tell him what happened, and he gives me a huge dose of benedryl.
We wait awhile and the benedryl does it's thing....ended up being ok.
We climbed the route the next day, and I had my first experience with the Black Canyon "thirst".
Not my most epic Black story, but it certainly was one hell of a greeting.
josh
flamer

Trad climber
denver
Apr 18, 2006 - 09:51pm PT
More Brent....

And I might need a partner for that thing in RR we talked about...you in?

josh
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
boulder, co
Apr 18, 2006 - 10:19pm PT
Brent..that's funny sh#t.

Brent...what makes someone spend 9 days on a new grade six on that wall... solo and in the winter no less?

Are you better now??
Messages 1 - 20 of total 217 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta