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Dark Matter 

YDS: 5.11b/c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a R

   
Type:  Trad, 12 pitches, 1400', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11b/c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a R [details]
FA: Terry Murphy and Tom Bohanon
New Route: Yes
Season: Spring through fall
Page Views: 2,010
Submitted By: tom bohanon on May 8, 2016

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Steven Lucarelli finishing a long and sustained pi...

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Description 

This route was born out of frustration on a very rainy Memorial Day weekend in 2010, when all it seemed there was to do is stand under an umbrella on the Balanced Rock overlook and scope out a new line. After cleaning and top roping the top 3 pitches, we were so impressed with their quality that we felt committed to connect the dots with similar climbing from the bottom to the top.

The route has an undulating feel to it, with transitions between a few lower-angle sections to mostly vertical and some overhanging panels. The rock is quite solid for the most part and sustained, with 10 of 12 pitches in the 10+/11 range. We took pretty good care w/ cleaning, so there shouldn’t be many surprises, but being The Black and all, there are no guarantees.

We both felt this is a good route providing sustained, difficult climbing on generally very good and steep rock. The route breaks up nicely into 4 groups of pitches, with a good ledge after every third pitch. There is a nice bivi ledge at the top of pitch 6 which has hosted some fine dining and iced adult beverages, so don't miss out on this if you have the time. At the top of the route, work NE (left) about 75 yards to the road. Parking at the Big Island overlook (upriver from the descent gully) means the shortest walk to the car at the end of the climb.

As of May, 2016, the route waits for a second party to make an ascent as well as a single day ascent, although it was climbed by Murphy and Bohanon in a continuous ground up 30-something hour push (with an unplanned 5-hour bivi at the top of pitch 9) in the fall of 2011. Terry Murphy has led all of the pitches in very good style on at least 2 occasions in 2011 and 2012.

Below are some brief descriptions of each pitch. Route finding can be tricky, so get a good idea of where you'll be going by taking a look with binoculars from the Balanced Rock overlook.

P1. Climb this bushy intro - the same pitch as Death Camas Dihedrals, but it stops just short of pillar’s top, 8/9, comfy ledge.

P2. Climb 5.10 out left and up off the belay to low angle ‘chute’ then hard left to a steep face, 10, 2 bolts, comfy ledge.

P3. It is steep right off the belay (bolt protected to prevent a fall onto the belay ledge), then you get great climbing on black rock until the slab exit to 1st ledge, 11-, 1 bolt, spacious ledge.

P4. This pitch is long and fun and starts well to the left of the top of pitch 3. You need #0.75 cam at the belay (pin), which has an uncomfy stance, 11-, 3 bolts.

P5. This is one of the harder pitches on the route, and it works up and slightly left on small features and cracks along a mostly left facing shallow dihedral, 11. The gear is a fixed pin, wires. You need a #3 and 3.5 cam for the belay, a comfy stance.

P6. This is another hard and very cool pitch. Move up and slightly right to a prominent roof which is pulled on the right side, then continue up difficult climbing to a huge ledge about half way up the route(5-11-,PG-13). There is an optional, scruffy 5.8 exit to the left up a loose gully that avoids the hard climbing on this pitch. Belay on huge second ledge (the Veranda).

P7. This is an excellent pitch – gently overhanging 5.11 face climbing for first 20+m. The start if this pitch is well to the right of the top of P6, but still left of the arete. There is a block/pedestal that marks the start, or one can also start about 10 feet right of the pedestal, and the line generally follows black streaks more or less straight up. We have always started at the same point on the Veranda, but initially drifted right out to the arete (hard to miss it!, 5.9, Sept. ’11). Ultimately, we really liked the ‘direct’ line up the black streaks (5.10, May ’12) as shown in the topo. Either way, both are very good. You get a comfy, grassy stance with a small bush.

P8. Take a ride on The Pegway – a cool but short feature. 9. You get a comfy seat for the belay out left of the dihedral about 30 feet above the end of the pegway. This pitch is definitely "R" rated without the fixed #3 Loweball at the end of the Pegway and "PG-13" with it.

P9. It is a bit spooky getting to the roof exit with some devious protection. The move out the right side of the roof is easier than it looks, 10, comfy ledge.

P10. This has a boulder-problem crux that is bolt protected then a fun hand traverse right along the peg band to a left-facing dihedral that is ascended about 20 feet, 11-, 1 bolt, comfy stance.

P11. Climb some scruff to start as one continues up the left-facing dihedral (5.9 PG-13), then move slightly left for steep/solid/strenuous fun that works up through amazing golden overhanging rock. This has a nice position, 11-, comfy stance.

P12. This pitch stays steep and follows the crack system to the top. It also has a very nice position. Avoid a brush-choked gully at the top by stemming up an alcove to a roof, then exit left onto the final face. This is tough until the top, 10.

Location 

Dark Matter has a relatively easy approach by Black Canyon standards, with a straightforward hike of about 45 minutes down Long Draw/Fisherman's gully. The route shares the first pitch of Death Camus Dihedrals (DCD, first ascent by Terry Murphy and Andy Donson in 2002), which starts in a bushy corner below a large black roof about 70 meters below the start of the Great White Wall. This pitch starts up the bushy corner then tends right to a belay slightly below the top of a pillar-type formation that is the first pitch of DCD.

Protection 

There are 6 bolts on the route, along with a handful of fixed pins and wired nuts which we hope will remain in place. Also, there is a fixed Loweball at the end of the Peg-way traverse on pitch 8 that is critical for protecting the 5.8+ overhanging move up and off the ramp, which will also hopefully stay there for all eternity. You can't see it until you get to the end of the Pegway. If you have less confidence in the goodness of human nature than I do, bring a #3 Loweball in case some scoundrel has stolen it. There are no fixed anchors. We took a fairly standard Black Canyon rack, with extra microcams, Loweballs, a few tricams, and nothing bigger than a #3.5 Camalot, although I've also taken a # 4 Camalot and found plenty of places to use it.


Photos of Dark Matter Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Steve Lucarelli getting started on the meat of pit...
Steve Lucarelli getting started on the meat of pit...
Rock Climbing Photo: Steven Lucarelli moving smoothly through the crux ...
Steven Lucarelli moving smoothly through the crux ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down to the bivi on the Veranda at the top...
Looking down to the bivi on the Veranda at the top...
Rock Climbing Photo: Steven Lucarelli getting started on the meat of pi...
Steven Lucarelli getting started on the meat of pi...
Rock Climbing Photo: On the Veranda, looking right to the start of pitc...
On the Veranda, looking right to the start of pitc...
Rock Climbing Photo: Murphy, fully engaged on the beautiful golden rock...
Murphy, fully engaged on the beautiful golden rock...
Rock Climbing Photo: Murphy making us proud on pitch 5, one of the more...
Murphy making us proud on pitch 5, one of the more...
Rock Climbing Photo: Murphy preparing to power through the overhangs of...
Murphy preparing to power through the overhangs of...
Rock Climbing Photo: Terry Murphy at the start of pitch 2, as it branch...
Terry Murphy at the start of pitch 2, as it branch...
Rock Climbing Photo: Terry Murphy styling up the start of pitch 4, to t...
Terry Murphy styling up the start of pitch 4, to t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bo on the superb black rock of pitch 7, off of the...
Bo on the superb black rock of pitch 7, off of the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bo and Kelsey Bohanon on the belay ledge of pitch ...
Bo and Kelsey Bohanon on the belay ledge of pitch ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kelsey Bohanon leading pitch 8, working through so...
Kelsey Bohanon leading pitch 8, working through so...
Rock Climbing Photo: A topo showing the line and other pertinent inform...
BETA PHOTO: A topo showing the line and other pertinent inform...
Rock Climbing Photo: A photo showing the whole route, as viewed from th...
BETA PHOTO: A photo showing the whole route, as viewed from th...

Comments on Dark Matter Add Comment
Show which comments
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
May 22, 2016
rating: 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a R

Tom, you're selling yourself short on this one. This is a classic for sure, and pitch 11 is one of the best pitches in the Black, especially if you link it into pitch 12!

My two cents for anyone that's interested in this route... expect lots of runout face climbing at moderate grades up to 5.10. Pitch five is the crux for sure, and I felt that it was a bit of a sandbag at the 11b/c grade. There is also a spooky chockstone that guards the start of the pitch, so pull down, not out!

The #3 Loweball for the start of pitch seven looked absolutely ridiculous, but we found two "bomber" nut placements in its place that were much more confidence inspiring. We also got off route at the top of pitch seven by apparently climbing to far to the right and ended up climbing straight up off our belay and then traversing back left to meet the middle of pitch nine. This variation avoided the pegway and the 10+ roof and probably clocked in at about 5.10 on decent rock.

As I mentioned above, pitch 11 is an amazing lead and unlike anything I have climbed in the Black before! If you have a 70m rope, you can link 11 & 12 to the rim for a mega rope stretcher!

We were also able to link several pitches lower on the route and ended up climbing the whole route in 8 or 9 pitches total.

My recommended rack would be a double set from black Alien (00) to #1 and one each #2, #3 and #4, plus a good selection of stoppers and lots of runners. Aliens worked very well on most of the pitches, especially the harder ones.
By Tom Cruise
From: CO
May 22, 2016

This route is dangerous. Tread lightly.
By Rob Kepley
From: Westminster,CO
May 23, 2016
rating: 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a R

Although this wall looks chossy from the nearby overlook, Dark Matter weaves a path up great stone. I would climb it again.

The gold headwall at the top is pretty rad!
By tom bohanon
Jun 4, 2016

Steve and Rob, Glad you enjoyed the route and also glad to hear that we hopefully weren't too far off on the grade. Terry and I agree...pitch 11 is amazing! I got some great photos from the Balanced Rock overlook of the higher party on the route leading that pitch the day you guys climbed it that I hope to post soon, and would be happy to send you as well, but, I don't know who was in front and who was in second.

As far as 007's comment...tread lightly is always good advice in the Black, but I'm not sure what he/she means about "dangerous" in terms of where or why. We thought the route cleaned up pretty well, and a bit more traffic should help that.
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Jun 6, 2016
rating: 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a R

Hey Tom. We were the higher party on the route, thanks for taking some pictures, we'd love to see them.

As far as 007's comment, I suspect that it is meant to keep people away, but good quality routes (especially in the Black) don't stay hidden for long. I would also say that most routes in the Black have some element of danger, I mean it's the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for God's sake! Thanks for the great route.
By Jay 1975
From: Bonedale,CO
Jun 8, 2016

This route is classic face climbing! Of course it has runouts, but I didn't see anything scarier than what's in the rest of the canyon. Probably the best finish in the canyon! If you want to be truly frightening, climb "Tuffnell Magee"!

(Bo, I raided some of the candy stash!)
By Cat Geras
Jun 9, 2016

Also agree that this route is a classic. The golden headwall is something I never would have expected in here. Definitely don't bypass the awesome, chimney topout.
Though I'd agree that the crux goes more at 11+, having the right head on many PG-13 run outs is important to keep in mind for this route.
Thanks again for putting this route up!
By Tom Cruise
From: CO
Jun 17, 2016

Let me clarify. Pitch 4 is described as being "fun", when in reality it is 5 (break both of your legs) 10R. No biggie, however, the next pitch is particularly dangerous. There is a completely detatched chockstone that will probably kill someone.... Don't get me wrong, this is a great route, the last pitch is phenomenal, but I feel like the general public should stay away from this. Good job to the first ascentionists, but this route is dangerzone.

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