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Crystal Vision 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c PG13

Type:  Trad, 12 pitches, 1800', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c PG13 [details]
FA: Josh Borof, Paul Emrick
Page Views: 6,038
Submitted By: Max Kendall on Jun 5, 2008

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Crystal vision pitch J. Catto leads.

2016 Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>


This is a moderate Black Canyon route that has some sustained pitches and good climbing but is not as committing as some of the longer routes nearby.


Descend the SOFB raps. Walk out the Painted Wall overlook, head right down ramps, and chimney to top of the raps.


Full Black Canyon rack.

Photos of Crystal Vision Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Slotting the Czech nut on pitch 9.
Slotting the Czech nut on pitch 9.
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo of route.
Photo of route.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 4 Max Kendall leads.
Pitch 4 Max Kendall leads.
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo.

Comments on Crystal Vision Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 11, 2015
By chris Kalous
Jul 8, 2008

In July, this rig goes in the sun about 1:00 for the duration. The rating is more like 11a, with the crux being a very scary .10+ (maybe .11-) pitch near the top- "spicy" on the topo. Be ready to climb above shitty stoppers, but good holds do come, trust me. The 11a slab above is nicely protected with bolts. Why not the .10+ arete? Don't know. Even the 5.8 slab had a bolt. Anyway, good climbing over all. The raps/gully descent take a couple hours, but no poison ivy.

Also, better directions to the raps: Go almost to the overlook. As you round a group of headhigh boulders, take the clearly worn right hand trail (about 20 meters from the actual overlook). The trail is fairly worn and brings you along the rim and down a little to a gully that descend left. The raps are down here, but go past it first and up on the rock outcrop. Look down about 10 meters to see the chains just to make sure you found it.
By aaron voreis
Aug 17, 2008
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c R

I'd just like to add that even though this route has possibly the worst approach in the canyon, it is WAY worth doing. If the approach was better, more folks did the route, and a bolt was added on the sketch-arete pitch this thing would be just as good as the scenic cruise (NOT), but with a much better position in the canyon.

FYI we brought the #5 and #6 big cams and used them a bunch.
By stevecurtis
From: Petaluma California
May 17, 2009

If Atlantis gets 3.5 stars, this gets 1.5. A good but not great route. A few comments:

We searched for 2 hours for the rappel. It is not in the obvious gully. It faces the wall right of the Painted Wall--arete area??. Probably 200 ft right of the painted wall overlook. It starts about 125 ft down from the rim, and is easy to follow. The gully slummin' below is actually pleasant.
The route starts next to some huge boulders leaning against the cliff. These are the higher boulders, there is another further down.

Pitch one is poor but compelling-kind of like biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Pitch three is 3rd class traversing left about 25 meters to the obvious feature by boulders-the finger crack is hidden. Pitch 4 is fantastic, while pitch 5 felt like a meat locker, and offered the same degrees of enjoyment. Pitch 6 is burly fun, while 7 is best forgotten. After 7, you get first class Black rambling.

After the rest of the route, I too found pitch 9 needlessly dangerous. Big clean lob possibility off hard climbing is a good thing--keeps out the riff-raff. This big lob might send you into the rubble between the towers. A bolt on the arete, at the level of the belayer, would be nice. There is also a slot 10 ft up the arete where my buddie's weird Czech nut fit and set--luckily I didn't test it.

We brought 4,5, and 6 new Camalots. We only found the 6 necessary--pitch 12. There is a lot of low angle OW in other areas.

Don't arrive at the top of 12 in the dark. You may bivy.
By Patrick Peddy
From: evergreen,co
May 25, 2009

Chris Kalous' directions to the raps are why we found them. This is a "worth doing again route" IMO.
By noah gostout
From: Iqaluit, Nunavut
Jun 5, 2011

An amazing climb filled with great chimneys and exhilarating slab! We racked with a double rack 0.4-3 and singles of c3,0.3 ,4 and a #3 Bigbro (green). We used everything we brought but really didn't need the Bigbro. We brought it for the 12th pitch, but it was really easy and an unlikely fall. The 9th pitch was a little spicy but really only one move to good holds I didn't find the nut placement and just ran it without gear. I linked this pitch with Crystal Vision pitch and made the scary mistake after the 3rd bolt of not moving down and continued up and right towards the top of the flake. DO NOT USE THIS alternate route, it makes for a hard 5.11 pitch with a 45 foot runout. It is possible but shit your pants scary. Things are a little dirty from lack of climbing but will clean nicely to make for an excellent Black classic!
By Drew Thayer
From: Denver, CO
Jun 19, 2011

Climbed with Noah Gostout. Very fun chimneys and stemming. Pitch 2 has an exciting exit onto the slab, protects with a 0.4 Camalot and a red C3 protects the slab runout. Pitch 4 is memorable, save a #3 Camalot for the end. I was glad to have one #4 Camalot for OW above the "fist roof" on pitch 6. After that, low-angle OW is casual. "Sketch Arete" is scary but all there. If you can climb the "Sketch Arete" and the "Crystal Vision" slab pitch, you will have no problem starting the last pitch without a Bigbro or #6.

Do this route! A fun adventure climb with wild movement, chimneys protect amazingly well, and it will only get better with some traffic.
By chris Kalous
Jun 16, 2013

A guided photo tour to the raps based on my description above. Built some new cairns. You are rapping the wall facing the Hooker, Porcelain, Gothic Pillar. If you can't find them with this, give me a call and I will draw you a map to the Project Wall in Rifle.

Rock Climbing Photo: The boulder just before you turn right.
The boulder just before you turn right.

Rock Climbing Photo: The trail turn just meters before the overlook and...
The trail turn just meters before the overlook and just past the boulder.

Rock Climbing Photo: Don't get lost weaving down through the rock.
Don't get lost weaving down through the rock.

Rock Climbing Photo: Go past the cairn. You will be aiming toward the H...
Go past the cairn. You will be aiming toward the Hooker now.

Rock Climbing Photo: This is the gully you must scramble down about 70 ...
This is the gully you must scramble down about 70 feet. You can not see the anchor. Go past this to scope.

Rock Climbing Photo: If you look down from where Rob is sitting, you wi...
If you look down from where Rob is sitting, you will see chains 70 or so feet down. Notice the cairn.

Rock Climbing Photo: The anchor. Very hard to see.
The anchor. Very hard to see.
By jborof borof
Sep 14, 2014

Ok, here goes. I finally made it back to the Crystal Vision yesterday. It's been 12 years since we put it up. The crux "spicy" pitch was my friend Paul Emrick's lead, as was the crystal slab, and I must say that we discussed a bolt on the spicy pitch many times (personally I think he did a great job on the slab as it's a super fun pitch that's well-protected). I placed the bolt on the 5.8 slab 2nd pitch after having led it a couple of times w/out and decided it would just be a better climb with a few bolts. Paul disagreed and led the spicy pitch on nuts. Anyway, after a couple years and some rumors of major epics by people being stymied on that pitch, Paul relented. He no longer climbs much but was fine with me wanting to place the bolt.

I went to place it in '07 and got rained out before we left the rim.

Went back in '10 and got rained out on the third pitch. Rapped into the gully and walked out, which is possible by going back up the couloir past the bottom of the rappels, go over the col and look for an easy way gain the ledge on the left. From there, you find your way upwards in a couloir and make a crossover hiker's right into the Alimony Wall couloir where you can gain the road. It sucks.

Kids, kayaking/mtn. biking, too much work, and overall life bullshit has prevented me from climbing in The Black for large of spans of time, but I finally put together some fitness and got back there yesterday.

I had hastily put together a bolt kit before leaving the house at 4 am to make the route. Got to the spicy pitch, stepped out there, placed a hook, and banged away on the hammer for 30 mins. Grabbed the bolt to stick in my hole and found I had drilled a 1/2" hole and had a 3/8" bolt. Stuck the bolt in and out of the hole about 5 times as reality sunk in. Absence makes the mind grow dumber apparently. My partner, Joe Eppler had a nice chuckle.

I cried in my beer for a moment or two, then racked my bolt kit, sacked up, and led the pitch on the stoppers, rock dust all over the holds and all. Serves me right!

Still think it'll be a better route with the bolt. Now you'll do the crux w/ the bolt at your ankles when you place the next (tiny) stopper. No more ledge fall. I'm going back next Saturday to rap in and place the thing. I'll post again when it's done.

Think the gods of The Black just really wanted me to lead that pitch old school style before I fucked it up and made it safe. Now go climb the goddamn thing, it's pretty good.
By jborof borof
Sep 20, 2014

The bolt is in on the spicy 9th pitch. Step across and make a clip. Have fun!
By Phil Lauffen
From: The Bubble
Oct 11, 2015

The new bolt makes that pitch a lot more reasonable but still committing. Thanks!

My friend broke a hold off the crux (he's fat)... it's probably more difficult now. There was a team behind us, so they may have some idea.

In terms of quality... most of the pitches had kinda nasty chimneys with a lot of awkward climbing. There were a few worthwhile pitches up high that made it 'Worth Doing Once'.
By tooTALLtim
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 11, 2015

Great route! Slab, chimney, roofs, and handcracks - a nice, full mix of climbing.

A few thoughts:

  • Rack: RPs, a single set of nuts, small cams to #0.3, doubles from #0.4 to #4 (C4), and one #5.

  • The #5 was useless on P11, as that crack is #6 the entire time you're in it. I cursed a bit as I was climbing it in the dark, bumping up the tipped-out #5 in the hopes of finding its happy place, but luckily the climbing is only 5.8. We found the #5 useful on may other pitches (especially P5), I felt it was worth bringing along.

  • The topo is excellent, as is the guided tour from Chris Kalous. The broken buttress is inobvious, but that boulder is not. The pitch lengths were also quite correct.

  • That bolt on P8 is much appreciated! We were behind Phil's party, and I found that pitch difficult, 5.10+ difficult (I didn't know till now that a hold had broken) but terrifyingly committing if that bolt wasn't there.

  • Rapping to the last (6th) anchor, it's about 50m from the last one and climber's right.

  • The route is tons of fun, go do it!

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