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Dark Star is a quality climb that stays relatively sustained in the 5.10 range. With some beautiful pitches of face climbing, some fun cracks and amazing views of the Painted Wall, it is really worth checking out. The lower part of the route gets quite a bit of shade.
From the large terrace, locate the pillar leaning against the wall that leads up to a ledge with a large pine tree. This marks the start of the route.
P1 (40m, 5.8). Climb the OW on the right side of the pillar to the ledge above. Climb up to a stance and belay on a large block below the ominous looking peg groove.
P2 (40m, 5.10). This is wild pitch! Get a high piece up and left of the belay, then move back down and right. Bust some bouldery moves to gain the good feet along the bottom lip of the groove. Follow the peg up and right, past a bolt, to a short crack and a small ledge above.
Locate the large, right-facing corner a couple hundred feet above.The next two pitches head towards the base of this big corner with a dark streaks to the left.
P3 (45m, 5.10). Climb wandering face and thin cracks which lead to a bulge. Stem through this bulge and belay at a stance below a large flake/ear feature.
P4 (30m, 5.10-). Climb the right-facing ear feature, which is wide at the bottom, to great face climbing above. Trend right and belay at a stance below the large right-facing corner.
P5 (25m, 5.10+). Climb the hands bulge into the thin, steep corner. When it starts to get really thin, move left to belay at a stance with a pin.
P6 (35m, 5.10+). Move up and left to gain the obvious hands/OW crack. Climb this towards the pegmatite above, then move back right onto the face through some hard moves to gain a long, narrow, granite ledge.
P7 (45m, 5.10). Climb the hands corner that leaves from the far end of the granite ledge. When the crack terminates in pegmatite above, move up and left to locate the large peg flake/crack. Climb this beast to a short finger crack and belay on a small stance with a bush.
P8 (25m, 5.10). This could be an easy pitch to get confused on. From the belay, resist the urge to move up and right on what looks like an easier groove/ramp. Climb the broken, thin cracks in pegish rock, leading up towards a large, left-leaning arch.
Start climbing up towards the arch, get a high piece and move hard left, traversing out onto the face until a thin crack is located. Use this thin crack for gear and face climb up until the crack turns to fingers. Belay at the first available stance or continue into the 9th pitch for a little ways.
P9 (70m, 5.7). Climb through easier terrain past a huge roof on your left. Run the rope out to the end and belay on top of the massive pillar.
From the top of the pillar, make an 80 rappel to the terrace below.
P10 (70m, low 5th) Pull the rope, and tie in again. Lead up some easier 5th terrain that leads to a knife-edge ridge. Straddle this thing and scoot across until you reach the terrace on the other side.
P11 (30m, 5.10) Climb the large, obvious, crack corner/ramp leading up and right. Near the top of this ramp, take the left-leaning hand/finger crack. When the crack ends, belay on a stance/ledge.
P12 (30m, 5.10) Face climb up and left (.9 PG13/R) to another crack system. Follow this to a steep .10 hand crack and belay at the ledge above. P11 & P12 can be linked.
P13 (60m, 5.9). From the ledge, move hard left and slightly down, traversing across the peg band until some crack systems can be reached. Climb the series of bushy cracks to the rim.
Walk 20 to the Dragon Point trail, out to the road, and back to your car at Cedar Point.
Dark Star is located on the buttress directly below Dragon Point Overlook, facing northish towards the Painted Wall. To access the base of this route, park at Cedar Point Overlook, walk about 100 yards up the road and enter the oak brush on your right. Walk towards the mouth of the gully that is marked with a cairn.
Approach (updated 8/2013) - There are three rappels on the approach down Cedar Point Gully, all of which can done with a single 60 meter rope. Descend through bushes and scree until the gully makes a sharp turn to skiers right. Scramble down slabs to where the gully turns sharp left. Continue to a 20' rappel (may be fixed) over a chockstone. Descend the gully for another 100-200 yards to a bolted rappel station with rap rings. Rap 25 meters to a stance at another station. Rap a FULL 30 meters, ending with another chockstone - watch the ends of your rope. After the last rappel, continue about 200 yards further to where a giant terrace with big pine trees moves up and left. Scramble up this terrace for a couple hundred yards until it flattens out and look for the pillar that marks the start of the climb.
Standard double rack to #3, Microcams and RPs, (1) #4.
Mary H. on first .10+ crux.
Mary H. on pitch 2 traverse.
By chris Kalous
Oct 26, 2011
Wow. Good effort. I was staring at these walls from the Southern Arete a few weeks ago and thinking "somebody oughta do something over there!"
By kent w
Dec 2, 2011
Nice work, guys. Like Chris, I've been thinking there was some nice rock over there.
Aug 3, 2012
As of 8/2/12, fixed ropes are still in place on the descent. Also, there is a big hornets nest in the beginning of the peg traverse on P2 - beware and make sure to extend the left corner piece before moving on (seemed like the tension was bringing the rope too close to the nest and riling the bees up).
By doug byerly
Sep 14, 2012
Wild route in a very special setting...nice work by Ryan and Vic, for sure. Not a route to be be taken lightly, as I think the grade of 5.10+ and grade IV are a bit understated. It is a long, involved, and fairly serious route with devious route finding cruxes making it difficult to move quickly. I think a lot of folks are going to be surprised by this one! It's also in a very primitive state, so watch yer balls out there...enjoy!
From: Carbondale, CO
Aug 17, 2015
Really enjoyable route! Not sure about the 5.10+ rating - if compared to another 5.10+ Grade IV in the Canyon, like Scenic Cruise or The Cruise, one could for sure get in trouble. That being said, the friable, crispy rock, mandatory 40 foot run-outs on spicy climbing, the exciting position, & the route finding from beginning to end make this a really great adventure! Well done!
Aug 20, 2015
After receiving feedback from friends who have repeated Dark Star and going back to climb the upper portion of the route via the Schaffer-Schauer line to the right dubbed Park Czar, its true that a more accurate grade is probably (V 5.11- [5.9 R]) when compared to the Scenic Cruise. Although Dark Star has some devious pitches and thought provoking sections, for the 5.11 leader who has some mileage in the Black it is a good objective. To the best of my recollection, there isnt anything close to mandatory 40 foot run-outs on spicy climbing, however, if you get off-route that could be a reality.
Pitches 3 and 8 seem particularly difficult to decipher. On the third pitch, follow the path of least of resistance/line of weakness up and left off the belay tricky 5.9/5.10ish face and crack wandering to a stemming bulge. The eighth pitch also seems to sucker people left onto the face too soon, thus requiring an unnecessary run out. On this pitch, climb into the arching left-facing corner (or series of broken left-facing corners) until it is possible to locate a faint foot traverse hard-left across the face. This eventually intersects a thin crack on the arête out left. Get a high piece up and right before the traverse. The follower can climb into the arching corner, clean the pieces, then move back down and complete the traverse. On P9 it is possible to climb below an overhang/roof to access the terrace this is pretty fun 5.9 and avoids the 80 rappel at the top of the pillar.
Some additional notes have been added to the route description, and a revised topo has been uploaded. Cedar Point Gully is an isolated portion of the Black with difficult retreat options. The approaches take a while and the climbs are fairly committing. It is best to get an alpine start and feel confident climbing at the grade.