Type: Trad, 800 ft, 8 pitches, Grade II
FA: Robbie Williams, Terry Schmidt
Page Views: 9,355 total · 61/month
Shared By: jeff haskell on Apr 27, 2006
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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This is a significant variation to The Casual Route (3 to 4 pitches). Climb the first 2 pitches of The Casual Route to the base of the steeper wall.

P3. Traverse left, climb up a bit, traverse left again and do an awkward mantle/pull around move to gain the belay ledge. (5.7).

P4. Begin in a wide section then continue straight up until you reach a stance just below the obvious "undercling variation" out left (5.8).
(I have only done the following variation, there is a 5.8 layback pitch that goes up and right.)

P5. Traverse left, the climbing gets a little harder and more committing as you go. Good gear, short, fun pitch (60ft.?). Belay at the base of a small crack heading up and right. (5.9).

P6. Tough move off the belay, then it eases as the route traverses up and right, meets up with the 5.8 layback pitch and eventually joins with The Casual Route. (5.7+).

You should be back on The Casual Route now somewhere around its 5th or 6th pitch (see that description for finishing options).

I've had people tell me that they prefer Casually Off better. Having done both, I would only say that they are both pretty good and were it not for the so-so ending options to these climbs I would be more enthusiastic. Mostly solid, clean rock and a short day.


Start in the same location as for The Casual Route. There is a half-dead tree on left side of the gully.


Standard plus #4 Camalot.
Doug Redosh
Golden, CO
Doug Redosh   Golden, CO
We did the "5.8 layback" variation. It is way harder than 5.8, more like sustained 5.9+/5.10. The wall for one's feet is slippery with lichen. Maybe if the route were done more often, it would be cleaner and easier. In retrospect, wish we had done the Half Moon 5.9 crack.
Also, the guidebook shows an short offwidth above the 6th pitch to get off. My partner claimed it was bigger than our #4 Camalot, so we just went left to the Dragon Head (? not sure of the exact name of this tower) col, then down the gully to where it steepens, then traverse again all the way to the main gully.
All in all, a great route, though more sustained than Maiden Voyage. Oct 1, 2006
John Peterson
John Peterson  
My impressions: not as good as Maiden Voyage - this climb lacks the line and situation of MV. The rock is good - no funky stuff. Lots of easy stuff - just 250' or so of harder climbing. The cruxes were well protected but there were runouts on lower 5th class. We didn't belay at the base of the OW - this looks like a pretty crappy place to build an anchor and hang out. We stretched with some each climbing to run 3 & 4 together. You probably want a couple of bigger pieces to make protecting the OW (no real OW moves!) easier. The slab below the OW wasn't easy to protect but turned out to be easier than it looked. We did the layback - the undercling looked nicer though. No way this is 10 - I'd say 8+. Well protected too. And short - probably about 15' of hard stuff getting around the corner in the crack.

Doing this again, I would have built a semi-hanging belay on a small ledge near a small tree growing just left of the crack on P3 (guidebook P4). This would have set us up for either alternative (undercling or layback) and wouldn't have needed the rope stretching stuff.

My partner had done Casual Route and thought this was better. Definitely more direct.

Finding the right gully to exit from isn't obvious. Here's what I did (the rest of the crew wanted to do the upper pitches but ended up climbing one of the bad gullies when it looked like rain). From the top of the slab, unrope and go right a bit until you see a big ledge system going left and slightly down. Follow this, heading towards the notch behind a small pillar (the Dragon Head mentioned above) to the left of the route. I didn't see any sign of a trail from the left edge, but crossed left and up through about 20' of nasty bush to a large gully left of this pillar. I went up a while and then worked another gully left - should have stayed low continued the original traverse probably. The good gully is just 15 - 20' left of this first one - it's narrow with straight walls near the bottom. Definitely the leftmost of the gullies you can easily get to. The gully was mellow for the BC - no problems with brush, a little loose rock. When it branched I stayed left but it all was pretty reasonable looking. From the top, I worked left and caught the SOB trail. Probably about 20 - 25 minutes from unroping to the car. Oct 14, 2007
Matt Price
Matt Price  
This is a fun route, but not as direct as Maiden Voyage. Pitches 1 & 2 are easy and go quickly. Pitch 3 seemed to be obvious, be mindful and stop in a good location for the start of the next pitch. Pitch 4 was scary for me, but should not have been (had a badly placed nut come out while I was trying to bushwack up the crack, missed my chance for pro & ended up running out the last part of the layback crack). The crux pitch 5, half moon crack, was fun and easier than expected, we ended up staying in the crack that is ~10ft below the actual undercling crack, this was probably easier. We ran together the last two pitched & the rope drag wasn't too bad w/ long slings & midful gear placements.
The exit seemed fairly obvious. From the top we headed a little to the left then up via some short sections of 4th/easy 5th class climbing. We regretted not knowing about the "extra" pitches or we would have tried them. Oct 15, 2007
This route is a great moderate route in the Black Canyon, certainly comparable to Maiden Voyage or Ground Control. The views of the painted wall are spectacular. Finding the route can be tricky for someone not familiar with the wall. It is the first buttress found down gully from the Dragon Tail pinnacle. Make sure you know which buttress you are on before committing. Parties have confused this buttress with the Debutantes Ball buttress before (BIG mistake). The start is on a wide, tree covered ledge that ascends to the right. The first few pitches are vague and go up the path of least resistance through slabs to the base of the steeper wall above. Look for the large Juniper tree on the left side of the wall that marks the base of the Casually Off Route variation. From here you can see striking cracks and flakes ascending the left hand side of the headwall. The gear is good, but make sure to bring along some wider pieces (4-5") if you want to protect all pitches well.
The photo with the topo below shows the main pitches. Above these, scramble up the easier ground and look for the prominent crack and corner system leading towards the routes end. This great pitch is probably harder (5.9) than any other climbing on the route, but short lasted. Above this, we found good climbing up the left edge/arete of the upper headwall. This avoided some (not all) of the bushwhacking. The arete offered good 5.7 climbing and was well worth the occasional loose rock and lichen. This arete is just right of the bush laden escape gully. With these pitches included. We belayed 10 pitches (some short) with a 50 meter rope for a surprisingly good outing in this part of the Black. Jul 4, 2008
Ryan Ray
Weatherford, TX
  5.8+ PG13
Ryan Ray   Weatherford, TX
  5.8+ PG13
Just did this route last week. You can easily do this route in 4 pitches. We linked pitch 1 and 2 of the casual route to the large ledge with the trees. Then pitch 3 and 4 of casually off route and belayed just below the undercling variation. Pitch 5 and 6 up to the dirt ledge with the tree. (note, we did the undercling variation and clipped minimal gear to cut out rope drag. Then linked 7 and 8 (which is back on Casual Route). We had a 60 m rope. The only pitches i recall being close on would be pitch 1 and 2. You might have to simul climb up just a bit..but both climbers are on pretty easy terrain. If you use a 70...you're golden!

If you're still feeling good, run over and do Maiden Voyage. We left the parking lot just after sunrise.... Climbed Casually Off Route and then ran over and did Maiden Voyage and topped out on it sometime around 1-ish. It was a great morning of climbing.

Enjoy. Aug 24, 2010
A tiny but exciting topout option on the *bonus pitches*:

After the first two 'out-of-character' up & right junk pitches, one arrives on a big ledge hunting for a 5.9 corner on the mini-headwall. Instead of the 5.9 corner, walk right on the big ledge about 40' past the juniper tree to find a squarish wall of immaculate and well-featured brown stone. Climb a 30' left-leaning, thin crack with just enough pro to keep you going. 5.10 and slightly steep. After this, continue up ledgy/wandery junk to the rim - no gully! Oct 6, 2014
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Nice quick route if you follow the topo, but the old book says/shows to go left to a bushy but mellow area one pitch... the new book says to go right. The new book is correct unless you like 5.10+ R on bad rock for a pitch. On the bright side, I left the black with a handful of booty/bail gear.

Anyway, don't use the old book. Jul 30, 2018