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Devil's Castle
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Black Streak T 
Bush Bullshit S 
Des Teufel's Bollwerk T 
Dick Cheese Ball Cheney S 
Evil Eye T 
Gothic Miller S 
Gothic Pillar T 
Hellevator Shaft T 
Horns Of Satan T 
Political Prisioner S 
Portable Darkness T 
Shadow of the Blade T 

Portable Darkness 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a PG13

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 600', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Brian Cabe, Matt Scullion w/ Jason Shumaker and Patty Black
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 4,799
Submitted By: Brian in SLC on Sep 26, 2007

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BETA PHOTO: Portable Darkness route location from the west loo...

Please respect this beautiful area. Stay on established trails and do not trample any vegetation


All pitches are 30 meters (100 feet) long and end at bolted belay anchors. Assume all pitches have loose rock.

P1 - Ascend the lower angle slab to a short, steep finish and belay anchor on a shallow ledge (5.8). 11 bolts.
P2 - Climb slightly left and up the steep, black face. Small to medium cams supplement the bolts on this pitch (#2 TCU especially useful). Finish up a neat chimney to an exposed belay position (5.9+). 11 bolts, one piton.
P3 - Trend up and left, aiming for a steep, black shallow corner at the base of the prominent arête. Lower angle rock interspersed with dirt and gravel bars (take care). Pass three bolts below a tree positioned straight above the P2 belay, pass the short pine bush either right (up to tree, then traverse left) or below to the left. One more bolt leads to the belay anchor on a ledge on the low angle slab (5.3). 4 bolts.
P4 – Paddle up the slab, clip bolt on face, then climb up to steep, black face in the shallow corner. Pin, bolt, pin (long sling reduces rope drag), bolt. Place gear. Out of the darkness, into the light (climb goes from north facing to west facing). Step up and move right on exposed ledge (pro on right side of flake) then up at transition of arête and face, passing 3 more bolts to a belay ledge (5.9). 6 bolts, two pitons.
P5 – Pass a tree in the corner, clip piton, then pretty much straight up, staying right of the arête at the transition of the arête and face, passing ledges in lower angle terrain. Bolt, pin, pin (long sling or skip) then 3 bolts to belay anchor just right of the arête, and right of the base of a large, flat topped block on the arête (5.7). 4 bolts, three pitons.
P6 – Step up, clip bolt, then pin, then step left and clip bolt. Climb up arête passing small roof, bolt, then continue up arête. Clip several more bolts. At a break in the arête, clip bolt on steep face on the left side of the arête with a long sling, then traverse slightly to the right side of the arête, clip bolt, then up face to short pinnacle summit. Traverse broken low angle terrain to final short steep face, bolt, then up to left angling low angle to belay anchor (5.8). 10 bolts, one piton.


30 meters (100 feet) to the right of Gothic Pillar. Start on a low angle slab and look for a brown colored bolt hanger on the light gray face. There has been notable rock fall from above (wear a helmet). There are lower angle goat trails above and especially to the right of the route. If windy, rocks can dislodge and come down unannounced as well. Route could be descended with a single 60 meter rope (hard rope pull on pitch 4) but it’s much safer to walk off to the West.

The route ascends through a chimney visible from below on the first steep section, then a low angle slab to a steeper black face at the base of the prominent arête. This buttress is the last steep arête on the right side of the main north face that continues to the summit ridge of Devil’s Castle. The route follows the right (West facing) side of the arête (Gothic Pillar is on the left side of this arête) and the last pitch finishes on the arête itself.


Helmet. Fully deployed loose rock radar.
Recommended Rack:
Cams: 0 TCU to 1 Camalot (or equivalent)
12 Quick Draws
6 Slings

Photos of Portable Darkness Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Michele following the arete pitch, high on Portabl...
Michele following the arete pitch, high on Portabl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Route drawn in.
Route drawn in.
Rock Climbing Photo: Portable Darkness route topo.
BETA PHOTO: Portable Darkness route topo.
Rock Climbing Photo: What does this mean on the hanger?
BETA PHOTO: What does this mean on the hanger?
Rock Climbing Photo: Carolina and Felix following up the memorable aret...
Carolina and Felix following up the memorable aret...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down from near the top of the pitch 2 chim...
Looking down from near the top of the pitch 2 chim...
Rock Climbing Photo: Carolina and Felix coming up the first pitch
Carolina and Felix coming up the first pitch

Comments on Portable Darkness Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 24, 2015
By bsmoot
Sep 26, 2007

"Paddle up the slab" ??? Yes!! ...Adventure!! ...Can't wait to do this!! ... Fixed pins...what more could you ask for?? ...OK, a fixed bashie.
By JimG
Aug 6, 2008

Did this today; fun stuff, a worthwhile addition to Devils Castle. Thanks to the FA team for putting this up; that must have taken some time, effort and expense. Pitch 2 with that little chimney at the top and the final pitch up the arete were great. We took some gear but didn't end up placing any of it, the bolts and pins seemed adequate. The belays are fairly sheltered and we didn't see any natural rockfall, but there is plenty of loose rock so as always at the Castle wear helmets and climb carefully.
Black Streak seems to be seeing more traffic these days, and I would never climb under another party on Devils Castle, so if you are up there to do Black Streak and it is occupied this route would be a good alternative at about the same length and difficulty.
By bsmoot
Sep 7, 2008

This route is a great addition to the Castle as it is the best protected and most moderate of all of the multi pitch routes. The unique 2nd pitch offers cool chimney that ends at an exposed belay. The upper pitches had some good air too.

Great Job!
By Brian in SLC
Jul 20, 2009

Bummed about your rope, James. Which pitch? Would extending the rap anchor a bit help?
Glad you liked the route!
By James Garrett
Jul 20, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Climbed this again this season. The lower pitches are the lamb chops, whereas the upper ones are the landscapes. It baffles me that anyone could remotely think this route is either PG13 or R protected. Even Gregorio doesn't drill this close....Don't misunderstand...I am not complaining. We all loved it....a Swiss friend said it reminded him of Plaisir climbs... beautiful climbing and weather...only ones on the whole wall....walked along summit ridge and did last crack pitch of Des Teufels Bollwerk for a finale.

DC is definitely not for everybody, but I'll be back....
By Tristan Higbee
From: Cambodia
Sep 5, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Really fun climb that I enjoyed a lot! Here's my take on the pitches.

Pitch 1: Mostly 5.6ish, with some 5.8 moves at the last few bolts before the belay on a small ledge. A fun pitch, but nothing spectacular.
Pitch 2: Steep 5.9+ on good, flat edges up nice rock to a sweet, easy, and exposed chimney. Belay is on a good stance above the chimney. My favorite pitch on the route.
Pitch 3: Apparently there are 4 bolts on this pitch, but I only found two. I climbed up to the small tree with rope/slings on it and then left on over to the belay, but I think the bolts are to the left more. Belay on a good ledge. 5.3ish.
Pitch 4: Start out on some fun 5.8+ moves up a dark corner (passing a couple bolts and some pins) to a small ledge on top of the corner. Go right on the ledge to find the next bolt. Climb up the left side of the gully, clipping the bolts on the rocky arete to the left. Belay is on a good ledge with three bolts.
Pitch 5: Climb up to the small tree (I climbed around it to the right, but going around the left of it would result in less rope drag. There’s a small piton with a ring on it right above the tree. Climb up and slightly left from the tree. 5.7. The belay is on a good ledge right on the ridge.
Pitch 6: The other awesome pitch on the route. Fun 5.8 climbing takes you up the sharp, exposed ridge. Belay at a good ledge with two bolts. As of 9/3/10, there was gray webbing and a quicklink on the bolts. My partner thought that the last pitch was the coolest he had ever done!

I didn’t think any pitches were R or PG-13 rated. The route is very well bolted.

In addition to the dozen draws and half dozen slings, I took half a dozen cams and didn’t use any of them anywhere on the route.

More pics on my blog here.
By john climaco
From: Park City, Utah
Sep 3, 2012

Just did this today - what an outstanding line. Beautiful and fun climbing. However, I agree there's no way is it R or even PG-13. There are big, fat bolts everywhere you need them (and even where you might not, like on the 5.3 pitch) so bring 12 draws, a few long slings and nothing else. The anchors are all ringed as well just in case you need to bail. I also wouldn't rate it 9+. If you climb that grade you will cruise this thing.

I would add that you should not climb this under any circumstances if there is a party above you. There is loose rock on every pitch (some are covered in it) and it was virtually impossible not to kick things off.
By notmyname
From: Stony Brook, NY
Aug 4, 2013
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c PG13

I fully respect the work that went into this climb, however unlike the previous posters, I thought it was the worst multipitch I've ever done. As for beta - no cams necessary - well bolted and certainly not PG-13 or R rated.
By mandomike
Sep 3, 2013

did this late last Fall (SO cold) and a few days ago (much better weather), and it's a great climb. Pitches 2,4, and 6 are the best to lead (or let a good friend lead =), but the whole climb is really good. A good amount of loose rock (tons in some areas), but the holds are all good and big, and the view is money.
By cdec
From: SLC, UT
Aug 4, 2015

No need to bring any cams this a 6 pitch sport climb for sure. Most of the climb is bolted about body length. Never did I feel like I need to supplement the bolts and I am not bold.

Pitches 1-3 are clean and enjoyable. The upper 1/2 of pitch 4 is like climbing through a Jenga game. Rocks on rocks on almost any flat edge between the bolts, bordered by looseness and choss on both sides. It is possible to climb through this without knocking anything down but you really need to be heads up. Watch what you touch, stand on and your rope as you climb, your belayer is directly below. Still fun.

Pitch 5 is ok, low angle easy climbing and 6 is great super cool arete.

The 5.9 version of a Castle Route, worth doing for sure!

Don't even think of rapping this. Easiest/shortest walk off there is. Simply follow the trail West to the saddle, then down to the lake and then the lot.

1/2 to the base, 1 hour down.
By Tofu Brain
From: Utah
Aug 5, 2015

Don't even think of rapping this
I couldn't agree more, the walk off isn't bad and plus the views are great!
By bus driver
Aug 18, 2015
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Casual and delicious. The luscious looseness that adds spice to the blah is becoming an endangered species on this one. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The hills are alive with the sound of music.
By Boissal
From: Small Lake, UT
Aug 24, 2015
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Casual and delicious sums it up well. A great addition to the Castle and a pretty good intro to the climbing up there.
I thought P1 and P2 were really good with the crux on P2 being standard Castle goodness: long moves on good holds up steep solid black rock.The chimney was actually fun, especially after turning around a few times. The belay perch there is pretty outstanding. The middle section is probably the most solid of any on the Castle's routes and while the climbing is somewhat unremarkable at least you're in the sun and your belayer is outside of the bomb track. The upper arete is super fun and exposed.
As others have mentioned the gear is probably superfluous if you're comfortable at the grade. I spotted a few obvious placements but never felt like I needed the gear. Runners are mandatory though as there's a fair amount of wandering.
The walk off is as pleasant as ever, please don't be a giant toolbag and rap the Black Streak.

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