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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Black Magic

The Black Wall on Mt. Evans is one of my favorite alpine climbing venues in Colorado, and a few weeks ago I got back up there after several years' absence. This high-altitude crag tops out at 13,200 feet and has very good granite. Yet, despite one of the shortest approaches to an alpine cliff in the state—a one-hour drive from Denver and then an hour's hike from the Summit Lake parking area at 12,830 feet—the Black Wall isn't very popular. Could be the fact that there are no easy routes up here—the classic of the cliff, Good Evans, is a five-pitch 5.11a. Or it could be the severe weather. For some reason, Mt. Evans seems to attract more storms—and fiercer ones—than the popular peaks farther north. In any case, I've never seen another party climbing when I've been up there.

Ten years ago, I put up two new routes on the cliffs left of the Black Wall's main face in a single August week. By far the better of the two was Captain Calamari, which I climbed with Greg Crouch. It takes the sunny, sharp-edged outside corner line in the foreground of the photo above. (The prominent prow behind it is Roofer Madness, a possibly unrepeated eight-pitch 5.11c put up by Greg Cameron and George Lowe.) Greg and I climbed five good pitches before the second sleet storm of the day drove us into an ugly corner to escape. Someday I need to go back and finish the line, continuing up the prow. This could be the easiest line in the area, at 5.9+, but the key pitch is long and run-out, with a potentially dangerous crux just above the belay, so it's still not that easy.

Earlier this month, Dave Goldstein and I climbed Cannonball Corner, the huge right-facing corner system to the right of Good Evans. It was a pretty good line, marred by a lot of big loose flakes and very wet climbing in the last 75 feet. The main Black Wall is steep! From the fifth belay, you look straight down more than 600 feet to the snow and talus at the base. All in all, we thought it was a good route, but probably not one that bears repeating. The best part of the day was the clear, stable weather—a first in my experience on Evans—which allowed us to hike around after the climb and scope new routes. There's plenty still to do!


nixx07 said...

Hi! I just saw your blog.
Maybe, a hyperbole would describe it: It's on the zenith of a high mountain. please do visit my blog. thanks

queenknowitall said...

I just hiked Mt Evans for the first time a few weeks ago, and knew there had to be some climbs on that beauty. thanks for the post!

Paulette said...

My Husband and I saw our first mountains last September. We hiked Mt. Evans, just like you said there was a storm coming in so we only got about half way up. It dumped two feet of snow over the next day and night. We still talk about this hike and mountain on a regular basis and can't wait to go back with kids and show them how amazing it is. The tallest thing we have in our town and one hundred miles around is the dump that they turned into a park. So you can imagine how amazing this was for us. Thank you for bringing back beautiful memories.

Gledwood said...

You enjoy being stranded on sheer rock face?? Man...!

Hey I just found your blog by recommendation while logging in... it lied and said you just updated one second ago... hey but it is a good blog

May the force be with you!!

"Vol 2" ....

Anonymous said...

What about climbing in Tatra mountains?
Just visit Zakopane!
Hostel Zakopane

Piccola said...

Hello there!

Very interesting page. I'm just beginning in blogger, coming from Y360. so I hope to find new friends here too.

Have a good week!


Sarah G. said...

wow. i just got back from co last week, from a trip that changed my perspective/understanding of life. your blog is a neat retreat to my new happiest place on earth.

rock on.

Wai Yien said...

great site, love the nature and love the pictures...

Keep climbing