The Scenic Cruise – Black Canyon of the Gunnison

In addition to Pervertical Sanctuary on the Diamond, our other big summer goal was to climb the Scenic Cruise in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Black Canyon is famous for high adventure, poor rock quality and generally scary climbing. Bits of this are found on the Scenic Cruise, but luckily those parts are few and far between, separated by some of the finest sustained moderate free climbing I’ve ever seen. The climb is about 1700′ long and it feels as though more than half that length is on moves 5.9 and harder. In the middle are two beautiful sustained 5.10 pitches, and in between them the fearsomely reputed 5.10- pegmatite traverse. With the shorter days of fall, we knew we’d have to move fairly quick to finish the route in the light. This seemed like an easy proposition as we quickly dispatched the first few guidebook pitches. By the time we encountered the first sustained 5.9 pitch, the true nature of the route revealed itself. From here on nearly every pitch would present some form of challenge. We kept at it, running out of water regrettably early in the day. We brought 3 L compared to 6 L by the party climbing behind us. Chris did a great job on both of the technical cruxes, while I dispatched the peg traverse with only minimal whimpering and a few hesitations. The climb had so many memorable passages, it is staggering. It certainly ranks among the very best climbs I’ve had the luck to complete.

Chris scopes out the route while we wait for daylight

From black canyon

Chris starts up the 5.9 boulder problem. Next time we’d probably just take the 5.7 start to the left.

From black canyon

The first of the challenging pitches sets the tone for the next 1000+’ of climbing

From black canyon

Chris on the sustained 5.10 crack

From black canyon

Chimneying up the giant flake before the wild 5.7 step across

From black canyon

The higher traverse pitch. The climbing starts with an awkward hand traverse before some difficult 5.9 face climbing with 2/3 of the bolts belonging in a museum.

From black canyon

Pano

From black canyon

At the Rim

From black canyon
From black canyon
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