/ DESTINATION GUIDE: Black Canyon of Gunnison

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
UKC Articles - on 18 Mar 2010
[Ian Wilson setting up the  portaledge on the Hallucinogen Wall, Black Canyon, 3 kb]UKC Editor Jack Geldard gives the low down on the Black Canyon of Gunnison, Colorado, USA.

"The rock is at times suspect and at other times total choss. The routes are long and retreat is difficult... In short 'The Black' is awesome!"

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2425

jon on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great Jack. It's certainly an awesome place. We did Scenic Cruise in 1996. An American team let us go past them about 3 or 4 pitches up - and then sat on their belay until we were a clear pitch above them. I remember clipping three of the WORST bolts I've ever seen, on the pegmatite band. Our American friends paid dearly for their generosity as they were caught in the mother of all thunder storms - I imagine on that three bolt pitch - as we topped out... Brilliant, but we've never been back!
john arran - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to jon:

It's big-wall Gogarth with wide cracks.

The only route I've done is a big 5.11+ which had an offwidth crux! We paid heavily for the mellow 9am start by getting darked before topping out. Had to split the last pitch into 3 as we found we had only 1 headtorch between us.
Brilliant, but never been back either!
ebygomm - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: should be black canyon of the gunnison, no?
In reply to ebygomm: Actually it should (whatever should means) be The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

But it is commonly known as 'The Black' or Black Canyon of Gunnison.

Hope you found the article and PDF topo useful as well as taking umbrage with the title.


ebygomm - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: on my phone so not had chance to read the article, have always heard it referred to with the extra the so just sounded wrong Having hiked down to the river from the rim i'm not sure it's rock i'd like to climb on
Ackbar - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: These destination articles are really good. But can I just say one thing? Helmets!
lukehunt - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
Excellent article. One question, you will have to excuse my ignorance of the distances involved; it possible to combine a trip here with a visit to California?
seaofdreams - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:


when I was there I was sure the geology was gniess and pegmatites.
seaofdreams - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to luketheape:

2 days drive ish
lithos on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to Ackbar:

agree Jack bangs on about looseness and choss, and first person photo - no helmet !
TomPR on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Cool - nice informative article. Looks brilliant.
Dave Williams - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Brilliant article.

It's an awesome place, by any standards.

When I was there in the mid 1990s you needed a Wilderness permit to descend any of the gullies and the park rangers were on the ball. We were asked for ours shortly after we got back up to the rim. (Luckily we'd been good and we had one in the car.) Is this still the case?

Also, the river at the base of the canyon is paddleable. When it was first done in fibreglass boats, it took several days to complete the trip and apparently food dumps were left at the bottom of the gullies.

This link is for a vid of a far more recent descent and is well worth watching, if only to get a feel for the sheer scale of the canyon:

Carney - on 18 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Superb article Jack, on a slightly esoteric destination. Must be some of the world's most exciting trad climbing. Not for the faint of heart. My first route there was rather a sandbag, the cryptically named " Colorado Welcome Party" 5.11+ R/X, the epitome of Black Canyon Terror!
Toby Dunn - on 19 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: nice article, fantastic looking place. Perhaps worth mentioning the proximity (relatively!) of Rifle for when you want to crank and not get gripped, or the Colorado National Monument, for alternative trad terror.
Jonas Wiklund - on 19 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Nice article, made me want to go there. There was a fantastic article by Derek Hersey and Stu Ritchie in an old Rock & Ice (ca 1992?) titled "White Blokes in the Stratosfear", which is well worth seeking out.
In reply to seaofdreams: Yes you are quite right. Thanks for that.

It was the Feldspar apparently that threw me off the scent.

Here is my updated paragraph (you may need to refresh your browser to see the change in the article).


The walls of the canyon are up to 700m high and are made mainly of gneiss. However the gneiss is so heavily enriched with feldspar it is virtually identical to granite in physical attributes and very close in composition too. Pegmatite veins slice through the gneiss walls and range from a few centimetres in width to huge scary snakes several metres wide. To my inexperienced eye the pegmatite seemed to be just like quartz. So it's black and gold granite-type-rock shot through with loose 'quartzy' veins.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.