Type: Trad, 5 pitches, Grade III
FA: Layon Kor and partner, 1960s. FFA Larry C. Schubarth, Tom Austin, April 1980.
Page Views: 40,092 total · 145/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on May 25, 2001 · Updates
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

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Description Suggest change

The Maiden Voyage is straightforward, not very sustained or long, and except for the first pitch, has excellent rock - a great intro to Black Canyon climbing! It is recommended over the Leisure Climb in that respect, though the actual climbing is no better.

Reach the base by heading down the Cruise Gully to shortly past the second rappel. Look for the prominent Checkerboard Wall to the east (upstream). The route is one of the most obvious lines in the Black, as it ascend the narrow west face of the wall (in other words, not the main, namesake face), in a prominent, continuous crack/corner system, the whole length of which lies just left of the wall's SW corner/arete. Bushwhack up from the Cruise Gully to the base, and start in thick trees and bushes.

NOTE [2019 edit]: while I describe this in five pitches to the walk-off ledge, the route is typically done in three to that point with 60-meter ropes these days, combining one & two, then three & most of four.

P1. The worst pitch: identify a dirty wide crack that starts the system, and climb the face to its left until it is easy to get into the system. Belay beneath an overhang whence a clean right-facing corner emerges. The pitch is easy but a bit dirty and loose, and the rock at the belay is poor. [2019 edit: sounds like this pitch has cleaned up quite a bit over the years]

P2. Climb over the overhang past a flake wedged in the crack, and continue up the thin corner (crux), then through an easy chimney to belay on a nice ledge.

P3. Ascend the obvious, wide crack above (5.7), then go around either side of a roof (5.8--if going right, traverse back left under the next roof). Belay on a small ledge below a large dihedral with double cracks.

P4. Ascend the corner and cracks, superb 5.7, and continue to another good ledge.

P5. Continue up the huge easy dihedral to a large ledge with trees. The 3rd Class ascent to the canyon rim begins here; however, the route finishes with a sixth pitch (that many skip) up the summit block above with an obvious crack and corner over on the left, about 5.6.

Rappel from the summit block 105' back to the ledge from a two bolt anchor. A 60 meter rope will make the rappel if you stay climber's left on the rappel and touch down on a block where you started the pitch. Tie knots in the ends or your rope!

Now a long ascent must be made back up to the rim; follow the ledge off NW into the left of two wooded gullies and take that all the way up. If you don't mind a bit of 4th Class scrambling and lots of route-finding, (and want to avoid much bush-whacking) it is possible to take the ledge leading left from the base of the gully, and then scramble up a fun 3rd/4th Class ridge to the rim.

Alternatively, climb King Me, or rap the gully left of the Checkerboard Wall and finish on a route such as Leisure-Summer. 

Protection Suggest change

Standard rack with perhaps a 4-inch piece to protect the start of pitch 3.