Type: Trad, 950 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: Webster & Dreiman
Page Views: 25,429 total · 116/month
Shared By: slevin on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details


Comic Relief is an excellent introduction to 5.10 climbing in the Black, with clean rock, good pro, easy routefinding, and a relatively short day. The climb stays in the shade until early afternoon, so it's a good choice for hot weather. This is one of the more popular routes in the canyon. It is easier, shorter, and better protected than Journey Home.

Descend SOB gully to a white, polished slabby area under the third prominent buttress on your left. Look for a prominent left-angling feature low down (the "Vector Traverse" on Escape Artist) and a beautiful, thin, curving crack to the right of this. Head up the slab to a worn path leading to a 100 foot shoulder of broken rock. Scramble 4th and easy 5th Class up and right to a large block/flake and the bottom of the route. All pitch lengths are approximates, and like many routes here, optional belay points may be used.

Pitch 1 (75'): Begin in a nice 5.9- corner which leads to the base of the splitter crack. Variation: The thin tips crack to the right (with a little bush in it) is hard 5.10, but somewhat dirty. Belay at the base of the splitter (or keep going - you can combine these 2 pitches).

Pitch 2 (100'): Climb the splitter (excellent 5.10b, RPs at start) to a stance and belay (extra thin hands pro).

Pitch 3 (140'): Climb a left-facing corner, and move right where it ends. Climb the short wall above, or move around right to the base of a slab (optional belay at some blocks). Climb the slab (5.7), and a second short slabby/corner (5.8), to the base of an overhanging, black corner, and belay (good anchors, a little sloping stance though).

Pitch 4 (120'): Traverse straight left, to a 5.9 hand crack groove which leads to a nice ledge. Variation: Climb the strenuous "Black Corner" above (5.10), then hand traverse straight left (5.6) to the belay ledge (optional 4" cam to protect the 2nd). Note that if you used the optional belay on pitch 3, you can climb the slab and traverse left to below the 5.9 groove and belay in one pitch.

Pitch 5 (120'): Several options. Climb up and right to a thin crack at a bulge, slightly sporty 5.9 or easy 5.10; or up, then left around the outside corner to join Escape Artist, and onto a steep pegmatite wall with a crack (5.9 or so) which leads to the large, sloping shelf at the "Lightening Bolt" crack, and belay below the prominent corner.

Pitch 6 (85'): Climb the grungy-looking corner with a precarious block (5.9+ if dry) to a short pegmatite section, and a belay ledge on the right. This pitch climbs better than it looks. Variation: Climb the striking lightening bolt crack (5.11- or so) on the overhanging right wall, sharp, strenuous, but well protected with large wired nuts to 2" cams. Variation 2: The runout arete left of the corner is 5.8, dirty and best ignored.

Pitches 7-8 (300' or more): Climb the lower angle, but at times runout, wall above (some 5.6) to the top of the summit ridge.

Go to the left-most set of rap anchors, just over the edge, and above a big chockstone. A single 60m rope will take you down to a rubble ledge system. Ascend the obvious and loose gully to the north- do not take the gully to the right (east)- and hit a vague trail back to the campground. This is the "standard exit".

With the black corner and the lightning bolt cracks, the climb is a more sustained challenge. If you combine P1 & P2 and simul-climb the upper wall, the route goes fast in about 6 pitches. Watch out if you are climbing below another party, since stuff on the exit wall is loose, and a rope could easily dislodge something big.


Double set wires to 3" cams, one set RPs, a 3.5" piece. A single 60m rope will get you off the top of the summit ridge. Helmet.


Good route. Jul 10, 2001
Bryson Slothower
Portland, OR
Bryson Slothower   Portland, OR
Although meeting up with Escape Artist on p.5 is easier, the climbing on the original line is very fun and asethetic, I recommend taking the original route. Nov 19, 2001
Good route. Nov 19, 2001
Bryson Slothower
Portland, OR
Bryson Slothower   Portland, OR
The fifth pitch goes straight up through a short chimney section then RIGHT up a ramp to a great 5.9+ corner that leads directly to the base of the lightning bolt crack... Feb 24, 2002
Darin Lang  
A very good climb on good rock the whole way up. The crux pitch in particular is fantastic. It seemed quite sustained at the 5.9 grade until we gained the upper slabs - definitely in a different league from Maiden Voyage.

Pay close attention to rope drag if traversing over to the 5.8 finger cracks on Escape Artist on P5. I foolishly did not, and paid the price by doing 100 lb leg presses up the finger cracks and onto the sloping ledge.The original line looks much nicer. Jun 10, 2002
The climbing is over after the first pitch (assuming that you link one and two of course) the rest is mindless climbing. Great intro route to the canyon. Oct 30, 2002
Strongly disagree with Piz. If you do the Black Corner and Lightning Bolt pitches, the climbing is by no means over after pitch 2. A 3-star route in my book. Oct 30, 2002
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
I also disagree, and I didn't even do the Black Corner or Lightning Bolt variations. Thus, instead of thinking of the route as hard, I like to think of it as beautiful sustained 5.9 crack climbing the whole way (until the exit slabs), briefly interrupted by one out of character, short stiff (and thinly protected) 5.10 section. Oct 30, 2002
I just like to see who's reading and who's not outside climbing. I am not intending to offend anyone. : ) Sorry, if that's what happened. Nov 4, 2002
Ben Mottinger

Ben Mottinger    
Overall excellent. I would suggest an extra 3.5" piece if you belay below pitch 4/5 (5.9 hand crack). The belay requires this size so the leader must climb fairly high before a no. 2 camalot fits.

Near the end of pitch 6 there is a very small little overhang cave thing that is just big enough to keep two people from getting rained on as long as you are about 12 years old. Otherwise you have to like your partner a whole lot. And enjoy knees/elbows/etc jammed in your chest/legs/etc. ;-)

Slightly better than Escape Artist IMO.

The second pitch is sustained and while no single move may be 10c, the entire pitch feels about 10c to me. May 27, 2003
Ross Keller
Parker, CO
Ross Keller   Parker, CO
The 1st two pitches combine nicely. The crux hand/finger crack is as good as ou'll see anywhere!

The black corner pitch is better than it looks with excellent climbing and adequate pro (10b-pg). May 25, 2004
Max schon
Max schon  
The 5.10+ direct start is great and easily combines with the next pitch. Do this start, the Black Corner, and the Lightening Bolt and you have quite a bit more sustained climbing. May 25, 2004
Dr. Dan
Steamboat Springs, CO
Dr. Dan   Steamboat Springs, CO
Climbed Comic Relief in amazingly good weather 6/24/04. Linked P1+P2 which is definitely the way to go. Makes for a sustained 185 ft 10+ pitch. Things to remember. Double sling at the end of P1 to reduce rope drag and listen to the beta about bringing lots of small hand and finger pieces. P1 and P2 are mostly small hands and fingers. Ran out of appropriate pro which led to a run out of about 20 feet near the top of P2 before getting a nice green cam in. The Black Corner is a worth doing. It looks blocky and easy, but is just over vertical with less than perfect jams and some awkward holds.Watch for loose blocks, rocks and a few sticker bushes on the last 2 pitches (easy 5th class unless you get lost). Jun 25, 2004
Charlie from Winter Park here,... A great route, and fantastic intro to the Black. Highest quality rock (although a few of the ledges have loose stuff on them), takes great gear, and a cooler side of the canyon. Crux pitch felt a solid 5.10 - one can bicker over letter grades, but in the old days we just called it 5.10. And what a great pitch at that, one of the finer 5.10s I've done in a while. The upper pitches are incredibly good, too. So don't delay, go out and find a belay! Naturally, do be careful! May 30, 2005
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
Great climb, although wandering. All pitches are good, even the easy summit slabs. I followed the the P2 crux (carrying a substantial pack), and the orange left facing corner, and led the other 9 something pitches and had a harder time on all the 9 parts (leading or following) than on the 10 moves. The 10 moves are just two technical very brief moves to decent stances. The 9 climbing is sustained and pumpy and somewhat dicey at the several thin hands sections. Oct 17, 2005
Boulder, CO
Lordsokol   Boulder, CO
Get an early start! This route is getting popular. We left the campground at 5:30am and were first on the route. By the time we were at the second belay stance, there were two parties on our tail. We were not climbing slowly either. (We did the entire route from the first move to the summit rappel in 6 hours).

Also, even though it is rated 5.10, it seemed hard. I think that the thin hands crack on the second pitch (splitter), and the 4th pitch were definitely the cruxes. The 4th pitch openbook hands crack felt much harder than 5.9 to me. I had a harder time on this pitch than I did on the 5.10b splitter crack of pitch 2. I followed the 5.9 and lead the 5.10b.

Overall, this is a great climb with solid rock. Very enjoyable. May 17, 2006
We took most if not all of the hard variations and found this to be excellent: shady, clean, continuous and sustained (except for the easy peg at the top). Sort of cool that one could go back the next day and reclimb the route doing a quality variation on almost every pitch.

Very good route description by SL. May 25, 2006
Chris Perkins
Buena Vista, Colorado
Chris Perkins   Buena Vista, Colorado
The second pitch is harder than 10b if you have big hands, but that goes to say with most cracks. The fourth felt harder than 5.9 also. The book is correct when it says leader needs to be solid on 5.10.
I liked Journey Home better. Aug 29, 2007
Jeff Stephens
Carbondale, CO
Jeff Stephens   Carbondale, CO
Great rock, great protection, great views, great comraderie.... Pulling into the 5.9+ dark dihedral on Pitch 6 (middle of pitch 5 for us) was the crux for me. It is steep, awkward, and generally swarthy. The leader faces a bad ledge fall here, but on toprope I harmlessly and repeatedly bounced off the ledge as I morphed into a dog while trying to climb this corner. I kept falling even though I was yarding on a jammed hex. The climbing is sustained, with 5 distinct sections of great jamming.

Also, I dropped a bottle of Vadge body spray somewhere on this route. If you find it, just go ahead and use it. Sep 27, 2008
Carbondale, CO
dbyte   Carbondale, CO
Great route - long, interesting, & reasonable enough to be enjoyable by any ~5.10 climbers. I found the 4th pitch to be slightly harder than the 2nd. WAY more physical @ least. Sep 29, 2008
Great route, that whole wall with all its variations is a unique place in such a "forbidding" canyon!! The picture of Phil Broscovick on the 10d-really 11a/b variation was taken by me. And if you want a wild variation to the last real pitch or lightning bolt pitch traverse right around to the other side or straight up the prow!!! First done by John Hulett and myself. Jun 12, 2010
There's a three-star crack pitch that can be climbed halfway up this route, fully worth the effort for one of the best pitches around.

From the ledge atop ~p3, where the black dihedral is on the left, scramble down and right for 35' to a flat ledge on the right margin of the buttress. The pitch is obvious, and takes excellent, fingers-to-thin-hands gear. This is described in the guidebook as "Perfect Art".

After ~70' of stellar crack climbing, we beefed up the in situ anchor. The next pitch of 'Perfect Art' is described as "5.12 dynamic friction"... we demurred and rapped back down to Comic Relief. Sep 16, 2010
Ryan Ray
Weatherford, TX
Ryan Ray   Weatherford, TX
With a 70m rope, you can link pitch 1, 2, and part of 3. We did this and ended at a decent belay at the base of an easy, left-facing, dihedral slab. It is a short slab just before you do the traverse to the base of the 5.9 flaring chimney/crack. Keep in mind that this is exactly 70m as we had absolutely no rope left. I thought I was going to have to simul the first pitch a little but never had to. For pitch 2, you can take it accross the traverse to the base of the 5.9 crack and belay there. For the belay you can use a #3 or #3.5 Camalot along with 2 bomber but very small nuts just to your left in a small seam. It eliminates the need for many large pieces of gear. I suppose you could also link the traverse and the 5.9 dihedral crack as well, but you may wind up with a little rope drag, but would cut out even another pitch. From the top of the 5.9 crack, you can either go straight up or cut out left around the corner to join excape artist and end at the sloping ledge below lightning bolt crack or the 5.9 dihedral. For a final technical pitch, take either lighning bolt or the 5.9 dihedral up to the base of the summit slabs. Run this up as far as you can for a belay, and then simul the last several hundred feet. As you near the top, cut left along a ledge and scramble up some blocky/bushy gullies to the left rap anchor (fixed slings around a block). That makes this an enjoyable 5 to 6 pitch route that goes much faster than stopping at every pitch to belay. Sep 29, 2010
DaveF Farkas
Durango, CO
DaveF Farkas   Durango, CO
Loved reading all the descriptions...very appropriate. I led all the pitches as I took my girlfriend up Oct. 2010. P.2 seemed in the 5.10+ range. After walking across the ramp in the middle somewhere, I lead the 5.9 flaring/body jam pitch to a sweet ledge below the "golden corner" pitch. This is where we caught 2 different parties: a 2-person party on Comic directly above us, and a 3-person party on Escape Artist. I led up the Golden Corner pitch to the Lightning Bolt belay and waited...and waited...and waited. Both routes are getting so popular, there's lots of traffic. We ended up climbing the dirty black corner (felt 5.10) in the dark and then the 400-500 ft. of 5.easy to the top with headlamps. Made for an exciting time. Superb route...I first climbed it 10 years earlier...it was every bit as good as I remembered. A fun exit as well. Rap down and head left up the exit gully right to your cold beers. Apr 26, 2011
b hof
Santa Clarita, CA
b hof   Santa Clarita, CA
Info for variations:

The first pitch variation is excellent and checks in at about same grade as the 2nd pitch crux, the only thing is the gear is a little harder to place. From the ledge, it looks thin, but there are good locks where you need them.

The black corner is amazing and with good pro, the hand traverse is fun in its own way, but do your follower a favor and protect the traverse otherwise they could get slammed hard into the 5.9, right-facing corner if they fall.

The lightning bolt crack is splitter and is not as hard as some suggest, if you know how to jam off fingers and tight hands. The pitch starts out as big fingers and goes to tight hands and then gets to a good stance with easier climbing above. There are great edges for the feet through the hard section and takes 3 x 0.5 and 3 x 0.75 Camalots. May 29, 2013
Bowe Ellis
Taos, NM
Bowe Ellis   Taos, NM
IMO the 5.9 pitches are every bit like the 5.9 on the NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral Rock. I'll just have to remind myself that a 5.11- at some sport junkie crag is pretty much a 5.9, too. This thing was fun with great cracks and a full-on adventure.

A couple additional comments for future readers:
- We never needed the 3.5" piece. I presume it's for the 4th pitch/groove, but constrictions in it allow #3 placements.
- If you end up rapping from the upper slings, you'll need to hike down the rap gully a bit. The chockstone in the gully can be downclimbed (4th class) by starting on ledges to climber's left.
- The exit gully is the one staring you in the face as you come down the rap gully. It has some 5th class and some loose rock. Be careful and do your best to hit this with some daylight left, since the easiest path is a little circuitous. Aug 13, 2013
Dave Alie
Golden, CO
Dave Alie   Golden, CO
What a great route! Several sources mentioned the popularity of moving left after the fourth pitch (acute 5.9 corner or black corner variation) to join Escape Artist rather than continuing up. Both options join the sloping ledge below the lightning bolt crack, and I should add that I haven't done Escape Artist, so I can't make a direct comparison, but I thought the original fifth pitch (engaging 5.9 in an orange-ish left-facing corner) was some of the best climbing on the entire route. Do this pitch! Sep 2, 2014
erik rieger
Sheridan, WY
erik rieger   Sheridan, WY
Great route with all the variations. Similar to and on par with the very best climbing at Lumpy Ridge. Sep 13, 2015
Irish-Jane   Chamonix
Great climb, solid and steep!

Notes: I think a block might have fallen out of the last 5.9+ dirty corner, some new dirt and a harder move than I remembered right before it eases? Aug 15, 2016
Chabot   CO
Great route with solid rock. Felt the first. The second pitch is amazing, techy, thin, and sustained. Saw placements for RPs on the second pitch, but didn't feel they were necessary. It was easy to sew it up with small cams and nuts, found an offset cam in the 0.4ish range to protect the lower crux well. The black corner should not be missed. Triples of 0.5 and 0.75 for the Lightning Bolt did not seem like overkill. Aug 23, 2016
Michael Underwood
Broomfield, CO
Michael Underwood   Broomfield, CO
After you finish this route, you may find yourself wondering how to get back up to the canyon rim. The answer is simple: head to climber's left of the summit, and find either of the two rappels. The leftmost is the better one. It takes you past an enormous (bigger than table-sized) chockstone and deposits you on what's pretty clearly a path leading across to a steep, ominous-looking gully, which you must scramble and climb back up. There are fifth class moves in the gully, but they're on pretty solid rock with jugs everywhere. It feels much safer than it looks.

If, as my friend and I did, you mistakenly take the rightmost of the two rappels from the summit, you'll end up in a short, narrow gully above the huge chockstone mentioned previously. In this case, scramble down a relatively short distance to the chockstone, downclimb the easy fifth class steps behind it, and you'll find yourself on pretty level ground right where the better rappel would have landed you.

If you're now on the path below the unmistakable chockstone, and you're still wondering which gully to take, just follow the path of least resistance until you arrive at the base of the steep, sketchy-looking gully that obviously leads back up to the canyon rim. Don't let its looks deter you; it's the way back up, and it's not as bad as it appears while you're approaching it. As another poster mentioned, this gully is "staring you in the face" from the moment you summit to the moment you begin climbing back up toward the rim. Jun 8, 2017