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Black September 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 110'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
Page Views: 11,341
Submitted By: caughtinside on Jun 21, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (112)
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BETA PHOTO: Black September as seen from the approach

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  • Description 

    This is an outstanding vertical handcrack, that leans slightly to the right. Scramble up an unprotected 5.0 ramp for 30' to the base of the crack. A couple fingers to tight hands moves leads into perfect hands glory for another 80'. Ample gear and abundant face holds. A striking line.


    Located near the far right side of the Black wall. Left of Rated X but right of the lightning bolt roof. Hard to miss this perfect crack from the ground.


    Standard rack, emphasis on hand sized pieces. Gear belay, but you can rap off the nearby Summer Breeze bolted anchor w/60m rope and some easy downscrambling.

    Photos of Black September Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Such a good line
    Such a good line
    Rock Climbing Photo: Just absolutely Splitter.  Belay here if you've go...
    BETA PHOTO: Just absolutely Splitter. Belay here if you've go...

    Comments on Black September Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 31, 2017
    By Aerili
    From: Los Alamos, NM
    Jul 20, 2009

    A superb line.
    By SKI
    From: Portlandia, OR
    May 17, 2010
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Fantastic climb with the crux arguably being the thin crack at the start
    By Tom Fralich
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Jul 11, 2011
    rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    I didn't find the start that hard, but I like fingers. I thought the moves through the wide part near the top were significantly harder...and probably harder than 5.9.
    By Colonel Mustard
    From: Sacramento, CA
    Aug 23, 2011
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    I didn't find any 5.10 on this climb, just easy 5.9. Maybe I didn't look hard enough.
    By BruceB
    From: Reno, NV
    Aug 24, 2011
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Excellent crack climb with bomber hand jams. Protects very well, super fun.

    I also didn't think the finger crack at the start was too hard, and agree that the wider section at the very top seemed to be the crux. From the ledge (at the crux), the crack still takes hand jams above shoulder level, but below shoulder level it's a chimney, so no real feet, or at least awkward feet.

    The rest of the climb seems like lots of 5.8 moves, a few 5.9 moves, but with nice rests every 8-10 feet, including two no-hands ledges. So I wouldn't call it sustained - definitely a notch easier than Nova Express on Snowshed.

    Eats #1 and #2 camalots, didn't use a #3
    By Patrick Mulligan
    Dec 7, 2011
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Agreed on the top wide section being the crux. Its certainly a small step up in difficulty from OHC.
    By Tyson Waldron
    From: Reno, NV
    May 25, 2012
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    The route consists mostly of 5.7 - 5.9 splitter hand jams, hence all the "classic" ratings. But be aware of the awkward crux at the top!

    Perhaps I'm rusty from the offseason, or am completely oblivious to an off width technique that makes this section go at 5.9. But I was both a little confused and spooked up there with my body awkwardly wedged in a wide crack with nothing but a couple non-bomber hand jams to advance on. The jams are deep (about 2 feet) inside the wide crack. As you reach for them it feels like your shoulders are going to get stuck inside the wide crack, especially as you start to go up, because the wide crack constricts upwards. You are standing when you start this sequence, but there's not much of anything for feet to advance on. I feel the next 3-4 moves are easily 5.10

    Once you do get out of the wide section it is more bomber hand jams to the rap anchors. A 70m rope will allow you and your partner to rap all the way to the bottom of the ramp. If you only have a 60m, expect to down climb the 5.0 ramp. Bring smaller pieces #.4 BD - #3 BD with emphasis on the #1's and #2's. I placed several bomb proof nuts on this route and would highly recommend taking them along as well. If your belayer is not climbing this route, or doesn't think they can retrieve all your gear, you can clean some of it or all of it on the way down from the rap station with little effort.

    UPDATE 5/22/13
    Ya.... I was doing it wrong... Finally got back on this for a red point. My OS attempt had neither the respect, nor the technique to send this incredible line. Just absolutely classic. It's 5.9. Just don't make it your first 5.9 on gear! Definitely no O.W. on it. Haha... get on this splitter!
    By Aerili
    From: Los Alamos, NM
    May 29, 2012

    I don't know, Tyson, I think you're doing it wrong. Not trying to slam ya, just putting it out there so others aren't scared off.
    By BruceB
    From: Reno, NV
    May 31, 2012
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Tyson, I have to agree with Aerili, it sounds like you're approaching the wide section incorrectly. There's no reason to get inside the chimney.

    I just climbed this again and have to say it's one of my favorite climbs at Donner. Not too hard, but no give away, and just fantastic jamming from fingers to wide hands (I'm not sure I would say OW - but maybe I have big hands)

    I think I would also redefine the crux like this: technical crux is the finger crack right off the deck, and the strength crux is the wide section at the top.
    By Ima Fred Knot
    From: Victoria, Seychelles
    Jun 4, 2012

    You guys are 2 late, I am officially 2 scared. 2 moves of wideness is 2 many.
    By jomey
    From: Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jun 18, 2012
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    FYI: The fixed piece - red rigid stem Friend about 1/3 up the route - is gone. It is back where it belongs (original owner).
    By Cimbing Ivy
    From: bay area, CA
    Sep 14, 2012
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Superb crack line. Excellent pro throughout. Agree on the technical crux is the beginning section of thin finger moves getting off the ground - maybe 2 intricate moves at 5.9 then goes easy on mostly 5.8 fun with secure hand jams onward and up, with the occasional single 5.9 moves mixed back in to keep your attention. The wide off-width/half chimney section leaving the last ledge is no harder than 5.9 if you approach it the right way (sorry not trying to slam or downgrade the gumption/ climbing ability of other posts).

    No real chimney techniques or off-width struggling is required to get off the deck. Warning beta spoiler: A decent, though not secured, hand jam is within reach if you move up by smearing on the corner of an overlap inside the chimney and take advantage of the sweet edges and pockets on the face right of the crack. Place a bomber piece high up, commit to the jam and features on the face, and you will be rewarded with glorious hand jams to finish off this awesome fun climb.
    By Spandex Jesionek
    From: East Bay, CA
    Jun 28, 2013
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    Probably one of the coolest and most intriguing single pitches I have ever climbed - the name suits its morbid demeanor and tugs at you to climb it.

    Getting off the ground and the first 20 feet or so are the most technical. For the rest of the climb you enjoy perfect jams in some awesome cracks, especially the pseudo-flaky right-facing crack towards the middle. The crux in the chimney-squeeze 20 ft or so below the finish may not require using the chimney but still remains very wild. You will remember it well - in a good way.
    By Schwisow
    From: shitlake tahoe
    Aug 24, 2016

    Eric Beck F.A. probably early 80's
    By Josh Lowy
    From: Sacramento, CA
    Aug 31, 2017
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    A gorgeous splitter crack line. Thought the wide section near the top was the crux.

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