Comic Relief

There’s hardly anyone climbing in The Black – we’ve only met two teams in 4 days, both from Ouray and both knew Gary Ryan. It says something about the closeness of the climbing community (or Gary’s fame!). We met Brad and Stuart as they’d just climbed Comic Relief and they recommended it highly, with the “Lightning Bolt Crack” variation – “looks just like London Wall” commented Brad, who’d climbed in The Peak before emigrating. The route is accessed down the SOB Gully and starts closer to the river, taking 10 or so pitches to reach the rim, if you opt for the additional “Exit Route” finish. Another morning shade option made for an earlyish start and we were making our way down the gully at 7.30You head down (straightforward territory – no raps or significant down climbing) until you see some polished pale rock on the left wall (just below the most obvious pegmatite band crossing the gully) see picture below for the scramble up to the initial belay ledge.Here’s Bill gearing upFrom here, you climb up left of a huge boulderthen a 5.9 crack to reach a stance beneath the crux P2 of the regular route – a 100ft beautiful 10b curving splitter crackIt certainly is an outstanding pitch, maybe E2 (and definitely 3*) with a thin couple of moves straight off the stance then sustained climbing thereafter. The views over to The Painted Wall are fabulous.Next comes a long corner to slab pitch… to a stance beneath an Overhanging Black Corner (you can just see Bill at the bottom left of the shot).We took the original route which traverses easily into the bottom of a hideous wide 5.9 corner (see Bill following below). If I did the route again I’d give the 5.10 corner a go!Another pitch takes you to the ledge beneath The Lightning Bolt Crack. This does indeed look stupendous – steeper than London Wall but with much better jams by the look of it (and just the right size for my chubby fat fingers). 5.11c is somewhat above my usual US trad pay-grade, but I thought I’d give it a go. Translates to E4/5 according to the grade comparison charts, but top-end E3 might be fairer. Chuffed to pieces to get it clean! Bill got some great photos too, but that sad story will have to wait for the next post…300ft of pleasant easy angled simul-climbing takes you to the top of the ridge lineFrom here you have the choice of a rap and then grungy gully or 3 further pitches of 5.8ish climbing up a ridge line via The Escape Route.Much more fun and brings you out within a few hundred metres of your tent and Beer! We took a final night cap at the North Chasm View Overlook, as has become our habit.Where we met this cheeky critter who seemed to think he had a taste for beer…… and talked about what to do next. The obvious thing was The Scenic Cruise, directly beneath us (and starting about 2,000ft beneath us!!!) We’d written off the possibility of getting on it this trip – in full sun in mid 30sC heat, it would be a huge sufferfest. But then again, when would we get back to do it…?To be continued…

2 responses to “Comic Relief

  1. Jack just got back to Laramie two days ago. Meg might be there too. Only about 2 hours from Denver if you have time and want to climb Vedauwoo. ttps://www.mountainproject.com/area/105744307/vedauwoo
    Safe travels – enjoy Colorado, the land of my people 🙂

    • Nice one Barbara – we’re heading back on Tuesday so might have to give Vedauwoo a miss (anyway, it’s terrifying!) Rumour has it we might see Martin (and you) back visiting in Blighty soon?

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