Type: Trad, 8 pitches
FA: Rees, Zeilman, May 2014
Page Views: 1,633 total · 38/month
Shared By: Vic Zeilman on Jun 23, 2015
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details


The Odyssey is a fun climb that goes pretty quick once you locate the start. Although it is accessed via the Guppy Gully, it is more in character with climbs on the arêtes than routes like Yellow Submarine or Life Aquatic. It is also a higher quality line than those found higher in the Guppy Gully. For those looking for a few more 5.10 options in the Black, this is well worth checking out.

This Grade III/IV 5.10c-ish route scales the front side of the Guppy Buttress (that big chossy-looking formation to the right of the Russian Arête, directly facing the Comic Relief Buttress) and is separated from the SOB Gully by Lauren's Arête. All in all, The Odyssey weaves a fairly high quality line in the midst of a large amount of subpar rock. There is quite a bit of 5.9 climbing, with a couple short but distinct 5.10/.10+ cruxes. Although there is some munge on this climb, it is easy to overlook in light of some excellent pitches.

Follow the approach description listed below to reach the base of the climb. Locate a sizable cairn in the gully (about a 45 minute descent) and scramble 200-300' up exposed broken 4th class terrain. Rope up on a small, exposed perch with a fixed pin; this is the beginning of the first pitch.

P1. Tricky 5.9ish climbing leads past another marginal piton in a small dihedral and broken weakness left of a prominent roof. Continue up steep 5.9 crack and face, eventually ending on a large ledge below the prominent crux dihedral.

P2. Start up this excellent brown, polished crack system/dihedral. 5.8ish climbing gets progressively harder (5.9 hands) to reach a stance below a steep section of stemming. Tackle this short, steep crux section (5.10ish with good gear), and either belay on a small ledge directly above or continue into P3 (linking these two pitches is recommended if you have the gear and lack of rope drag).

P3. Make a few awkward 5.9ish moves in a left-leaning crack system that deposits you on a sizable ledge. Trend right and continue up 5.8ish broken cracks to reach a larger terrace above. This is a shorter pitch if not linked with P2.

P4. Move left off the belay; a reachy 5.9ish move gains a big jug out on the face (marginal pro here). Continue up and left, find solid gear, then run it out on 5.7ish terrain to reach a prominent crack system above. Follow fun 5.9 crack climbing with good jams and good gear and end at a small ledge below a small, left-facing corner.

P5. This is another excellent pitch of stellar face climbing on cripsy, beautiful stone which includes some runouts on moderate terrain. Head up the 5.7ish left-facing dihedral then venture onto the face above, aiming for a lone bolt. Clip the bolt, and bust some 5.9 moves (well-protected) as the climbing gets gradually easier and more runout. Move right along a sloping ledge and clip another bolt. Bust a few stemming moves (5.9) to access a short section of double hand cracks above (5.9). Make an exposed, airy 5.9ish step into the enormous pegmatite band above, and follow some runout 5.6ish terrain to a belay ledge.

P6-7. Most parties will choose to link these pitches at 70-75m. Basically, trend up and left off the belay, and follow dirty and bushy 5.7-5.8ish crack systems to a massive terrace at the end of the pitch. Watch your rope drag.

P8. Locate a splitter crack left of an obvious black streak (this should be marked with a cairn as well). Some fun 5.9ish jamming in the shallow splitter leads to section of stemming. Sew it up with some good small pieces and pull through this second crux (5.10ish) to reach a stance above. Clip a bolt on the face above and move hard right to gain lower angle terrain. Continue up and right, squeezing through a section of awkward wide climbing, and belay above.

P9+. From here, depending on where you belayed, most parties should be fairly comfortable coiling the rope and scrambling to the rim. Solo approximately 400' of loose, bushy 4th Class to 5.5ish terrain in the prominent gully leading to the rim. Hike to North Vista Trail, and follow the path back to the ranger station.


Guppy Gully - hike the North Vista Trail from the ranger station for approximately 0.75 miles. Enter the first major sandstone drainage on the left. Descend this unique gully (many section of 4th class downclimbing) until it abruptly drops off. Move right toward a prominent tree and located a short fixed rappel down and right.  Continue down the drainage past the Yellow Submarine, Life Aquatic, and World According to Guppy. Stick to the right hand side of the gully (bushwhacking, downclimbing, etc.) as it slowly turns right along the left edge of Lauren’s Arête. Keep heading for the river. Eventually, locate a large outcropping that protrudes from the prow of the Guppy Buttress, and scramble for roughly 250-300’ (see the topo) to a small ledge/perch marked by a fixed pin. Rope up for the first pitch here.


Standard rack plus (1)#4, Microcams, & RPs.


D. Scott Clark
  5.10c PG13
D. Scott Clark   Boulder
  5.10c PG13
Really great climb, I'm glad I found it on my first trip to the Black. Definitely an odyssey finding the route and route finding. I want to offer up some information.

The approach, take the 3rd gully (I don't necessarily know how far 0.75 miles is, and we ended up in SOB gully on accident). The gully starts off as sandstone and transitions to a mixture of limestone and granite. Rather interesting. Find the fixed rope rappel, avoid the poison ivy, and keep descending for a couple hundred more feet. Don't go all the way down to the huge rocky ridge that drops down to the river. There are two massive buttresses separated by two narrow/steep gullies. Guppy's Buttress is on climber's right of the two. The "open book" is a shallow, left-facing dihedral, it didn't seem as prominent as the topo makes it out to be. Standing at the base of the right buttress, head up climber's left, a mix of class 4 and 5 to the pinnacle of a smaller rocky ridge. There's a piton to belay from. With our SOB detour, descending too low, and climbing back up, the approach took 2 hours.

1. Vincent took pitch one, some hard 5.9+ moves into broken terrain, couple more 5.9 moves, then belay below the dihedral.
2. Fun climbing in the dihedrals that gets progressively harder but 5.10 moves on a few feet. Don't fiddle with your gear, the topout is easier than I expected. I ran 2 & 3 together. Really fun, combined pitch.
4. Vincent led 4, interesting 5.9 climbing, and continued into pitch 5. The move to the bolt is heady, then face climbing after. Following I pulled off a dinner plate of "good looking rock" about 15 feet above the bolt. Would have been a big ride if on lead. Vincent belayed right below the Peg, halfway through pitch 5.
5. I traversed right and did some hard 5.9 moves to get out of the peg section.
6. For pitch 6, the topo shows that you move left, paralleling the peg section for a while, and since I traversed right, I thought I needed to compensate and go pretty far left. I overcompensated. I ended up in completely other gully. I went as far as my 60m would take me, through extremely dirty, bushy cracks and into 4th class scramble.
7. Vincent and I simul-climbed to the base of an amazing looking splitter, slightly overhanging hand crack. I got a #1 in above my head, in the start of the crack and tried to pull up. Every single rock I put my feet on broke away, telling me no one had climbed this crack. I backed off and looked at the overview photo. We were 200 feet up and left of pitch 8 on the topo. It looked stellar but super dirty. Vincent belayed me downclimbing to the ramp, saw the gully we were supposed to come up, and found the less splitter looking pitch 8, that starts on the left side of the black streak.
8. Super fun hands until the crack runs out. Kind of sketchy gear, I thought, while going almost horizontal for feet, getting into the undercling. I found this to be the crux of the route. I stretched my 60m out till the end, up 4th class terrain. Then Vincent and I scrambled up until hitting a cliff band that I could not find a way around, via the description. Roped up and climbed another full pitch of 5.9 crack to 5.8/5.7, and topped out on the rim.

With the approach and off-route finding, it took us just under 10 hours. May 19, 2016
blue ribbon
Indian Creek, UT
blue ribbon   Indian Creek, UT
This is a fun half day climb. Pitch 7 on the topo doesn't seem to match up very well when you get there, but if you take off across the slab to the R then up a splitter crack, it makes for a fun 5.8 pitch. May 31, 2016
The cairn at the start of the scramble to the base is still there and is quite prominent. It is quite hard to miss. There is some fun climbing on this one. Oct 22, 2016
Fritz Nuffer
The Western Slope
Fritz Nuffer   The Western Slope
A good route. The crux stem corner is up there in quality with those found on Cloak and Dagger and the Cruise, though slightly easier.

This would make a good first route in the Black for a 5.10 climber, provided that the newcomer follows the spicy bits and isn't allergic to bushes.

Pitch breakdown with beta spoilers:

Approach: what you might think is the "first sandstone gully" is more of a drainage that drops in about five or ten minutes into the hike. Don't take it; it links into SOB, resulting in a two-hour tour around Lauren's Arete as previously described. When you find the impressive cairn at the base of the scramble, don't stop at the obvious bench with a couple dirty crack systems. Angle up and left further to find the pin belay.

P1. Fun 5.9 jugs with good gear, not a straightforward crack system.

P2. Excellent dihedral. We didn't link, but it's definitely possible.

P3. One tricky move up a shallow left-facing dihedral, then lower-angled cracks to a ledge.

P4. Reachy move that can be protected with a marginal #3 in the jug, then slightly left to a bomber #0.75 placement before some runout 5.7. If you fell it wouldn't be pleasant, but the #0.75 would pull you away from landing on the belay boulders. Then on to fun, straightforward jamming.

P5. The PG-13 bits. Good stances and holds, but heads-up. If you fell trying to clip the bolt, you'd take a fifteen-foot ledgefall and maybe bounce onto your belayer. If you fell after it, before gaining a good stance, you could take a thirty-foot ledgefall. Then clip the next bolt, do some hand jamming, and take the well-protected "airy step" to the right into forty feet of low-angle 5.6R peg trough. Falling out of the peg is highly improbable.

P6. Bring hedge clippers.

P7. A cairn marks the start of the handcrack in the black streak. Don't forget to traverse right at the bolt through a fun face move. I belayed above a little squeeze chimney boulder problem.

Exit: wander up, then along the rim til you hit the trail.

Many thanks to Vic and the crew for putting up another fun 5.10! Apr 17, 2017
Jay 1975
Jay 1975   Bonedale,CO
This really is a great climb! Had some 5* granite on it. No issues finding the start or the route path, unless you're not experienced in multi-pitching or Black Canyon routes. May 7, 2018
Boulder, CO
tim   Boulder, CO
The approach gully is the one where the trail is crossing sandstone slick rock a hundred yards before an overlook sign. Really good route. May 21, 2018
Mike S  
We started climbing at 12:30 (late May), hoping to catch some afternoon shade. The P2 crux corner got shady at 1:30, but P1 and P3 were cooker. Pitch 4 on up were out of the sun by 3:00. We topped out at 6:30 moving at a casual pace. There are a couple of excellent pitches on this route, nice find. May 29, 2018