Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Black Canyon

The view of the South Chasm Wall from the Guppy Gully.
On Saturday, Ben Collett and I headed to the Black Canyon with plans to establish a new route in the Guppy Gully.  After a brief scramble and a short rappel, we found ourselves alone, in a wild notch, with 800 foot walls jutting from the earth on both sides of us. 

Since the West side of the gully was already in the sun, we started looking at the shady wall on the other side.  We both saw the line at the same time- an obvious corner system all the way up the wall to a huge roof with a hanging corner on the right end.  We had no idea how hard, or scary it would be, but it looked promising.

Ben at the start of The World According to Guppy.
I nervously roped up and set off into the unknown.  Despite some loose rock, inconvenient bushes, and the stress of not knowing where to go or what awaited, I found myself giddy with excitement.  Instead of being scared, I was excited by the possibility of adventure.  After carefully navigating a small roof and an easy corner, I set up a belay with the remainder of my gear, and brought Ben up.  So far so good!

Ben following pitch 1.
From the belay, Ben headed left, and tackled a short arete section that led to a large corner.  About 25 feet higher, he veered right, moving across a steep slab to the base of a pretty finger crack.  We couldn't believe how well the route was flowing.  Two great pitches in a row!

Start of the 2nd Pitch.
When I arrived at the top of the second pitch I was amazed by what I saw.  A beautiful finger crack in a pretty, clean little corner awaited.  Unsure how hard it was, I cast off.  Our fears were quickly eased by the generous face holds near the crack.  What could have been 5.11, ended up being 5.10-.  The crack led me to the top of a pillar where a short, wide crack blocked my way to easier terrain.  After a couple of failed attempts, I found a solution, and cruised up a 5.6 slab and set up a belay just before the wall steepened.  Another amazing pitch!

Taylor at the start of pitch 3.

When Ben arrived, we decided to head up and left to the base of a huge roof.  The wall kicked back a bit and the rock looked a little more suspect so he proceeded with care.  Ultimately, the pitch ended up being a steep 5.9 with surprisingly solid blocks and flakes that led directly to a nice ledge below the roof.  Pure fun!

Ben leading pitch 4.
Me following pitch 4. You can see pitch 5 just above Ben.
The final pitch looked a bit intimidating.  The rock leading up to the hanging corner was a little dubious, and the crack looked challenging.  After inspecting a couple of ways to access the corner, I decided to climb directly above the belay using a finger crack, and then did a shockingly easy traverse into the corner.  A pleasantly clean 5.10- hand crack with the occasional face hold led me to the top of the wall.  This was by far the best pitch on the route!

Ben topping out pitch 5.
At the top, we both gushed about the quality, and sustained nature of the route.  We couldn't have been happier about our new route.  It had everything from fingers to wide cracks, steep jugs to delicate slab, and with a little bit of traffic, there is no doubt it will just get better.

Picture of pitches 3-5.
In the end we named it The World According to Guppy.  If you want more information, you can find a short route description at

Hope you guys enjoy it as much as we did!


splitter choss said...

This looks super fun, it's on the list!

Taylor Roy said...

Glad to hear it! Let me know how it goes when you do it.

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