Type: Aid
FA: unknown
Page Views: 2,472 total · 12/month
Shared By: Dmitriy Zinchenko on Feb 8, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closure - 2018 Update Details


Dark Magic is located just right of the route labeled #1 in the picture. There is a rock on the ramp just at the base of the climb and 2 feet left of where you start. If you look closely, you will see a thin seam running straight up with a fixed #1 fixed copperhead.

This route is a beautiful line filled with almost everything a moderate aid climb can throw at you. It terms of purity, Dark Magic is almost a directissima and mandates a blend of different techniques to ascend it. Its shortness is the only disappointment.

Clip the copperhead and GENTLY test it (if at all). Once you're on the route is quite obvious. It is just a thin crack/seam running straight up into a small left-facing dihedral. Once at the dihedral, take caution, it sounds totally hollow when you touch it but this will be the best protection you will get on the entire route. You can sling a small horn at the top of this feature. Above the dihedral things get really interesting. Lots of placement hunting is in store. After one or two placements you have a choice whether to proceed left with an awkward reaching move or to topstep and go directly up. I went to the left. The last move I pulled was a totally bomber hook over a fake but you might get away with something else (I don't know what).

The problem with this route is that the bottom crack/seam and the top section is filled with ridiculous amounts of dirt and debris. Using the nut tool often to clean each placement helps a lot. The boulder at the climb's base and the gigantic boulder at the top make really good anchors, especially if you want to set up a top-rope. I would recommend anyone climbing it to set up a safety line from the top because until you get to the dihedral, a fall would cause you to zip every piece all the way to the ground.


Slings/cordalettes for TR and bottom anchor. BD stoppers: #2-#10, double on #2, triple on #4. Cams: 0.5,0.75 - 1 each, #3 Camalot. 1-2 short slings (as pro). Hooks: 1 BD cliffhanger. Helpful: 1-2 Pink tricams, duct tape.


Sorry bro, I don't mean to burst your first ascent bubble or anything- but I did that route in the fall of 1998. Also, I'm almost postive it had been done prior to that, a unique little practice route though. Apr 21, 2002
I sincerely apologize for posting this as a first ascent. At the time, there were three reasons suggesting that this real was an unclimbed route. 1: I asked employees at Neptune's and Mountain Sports as well as Roger Briggs about this route. All told me that they didn't know of this aid line. 2: I looked on the internet and in the Neptune's New Routes Book, there was absolutely no mention of it there either. 3: When I climbed it, the cracks were absolutely chalk-less and filled with dirt/grit, forcing me to clean thoroughly before piece placement, which left me to believe that the route was previously unclimbed.

Once again, I am very sorry for saying this is a first ascent. The name and rating of the route are by no means official and probably wrong. However, since my climb was not an FA, that just goes to show how cool of a route this is. Also, if you have indeed climbed this route before, send me an e-mail, iradj@mho.net. May 1, 2002
I just recently solo-lead this climb again and the pink tricam comment is total bull. You might need two #5's but one will definitely be half-way out(bring along the Smirnoff). A blue TCU can help at the crux along with possibly a #3 stopper equalized with something else. I flailed around for a hook placement. Anyway, only double on the #4s needed, and the crux is just totally fun. Just be sure to duct-tape the sling around the horn real well. Otherwise, you're in for a long fall... May 7, 2002
Thought that you might want to hear from an "old timer." This thin seam was listed way back in a 1972 (?) guide book by Pat Ament for the Boulder area that had the title "5.10" (a little red book). It was rated A3 (old school) and was considered a practice nailup. The name was "tricky nailup" as I recall. I also solo aided it about 2-3 years ago and I don't think that you could zipper to the ground (but then I used a BD Pecker in the seam - which was actually hard to get out). HB offsets and tiny TCUs worked great at the pods in the seam (which by the way are old pin scars). May 16, 2002
Old timer again, I must be getting senile. The seam of tricky nailup is the one that goes all the way to the ground (2 over from the route marked 1) so this may not be the same climb that DZ is talking about. A random bit of history however. May 17, 2002
I want to thank whoever removed the #1 copperhead from the start of this route. At the time it seemed like the most novel idea but in retrospect, its existence is not warranted by any need. Instead, I would now advocate maybe using a micro cam-hook, or some offset brass. Another part of the climb even goes free with decent gear. Use your own judgement and climb as clean as possible, I know that I will after this. Nov 7, 2002
What's the crack right above the boulder at the base? Is that "tricky nailup"?

I heard of a good practice C3 line on Practice rock (go figure) so I went looking and soloed that one, lots of cam hooks up high (or RPs I was too pansy to commit to). Turns out I wasn't on this route. I kinda followed the route labeled 1 (traverse left then right) then about halfway up I stopped traversing and went straight up those 2 thin cracks right below the huge block on top. Anyone know what I climbed, cause it sure was fun? Nov 24, 2004
This route goes free at about 11a, plus or minus, depending on how you attack the 3 cruxes. The pro at the first crux is decent (with an attentive belayer), so-so at the second crux, and good at the third. Just over the ledge at the top is an old button head bolt, evidence that this route was done long ago. Really good route with diverse, technical climbing. Aug 16, 2005
logan johnson
West Copper, Co
logan johnson   West Copper, Co
I aid soloed this a while back and almost seriously hurt myself using RPs at the start. Later, I returned and used Leeper cam hooks with much better results. Doing a couple free moves at the top is much easier than goofing with hooks-IMHO. May 26, 2006
eric harvey  
If I did indeed hop on the right route it is C1. For the first twenty feet I had equalized bomber nuts, hybrids and a ball nut. After that it was all bomber placements. If nothing rips while testing it cant be C3.

This is a good route to learn how to do thin nutting.

-Eric H Feb 23, 2009
John Alcorn
Boulder, CO
John Alcorn   Boulder, CO
Is Dark Magic the red line in this photo?

Apr 24, 2016
Jonathan Ward
San Francisco
Jonathan Ward   San Francisco
I thought it was C2. I placed some beaks and cam hooks but never had more than 2 in a row, which seems to be textbook C2. Aug 4, 2017