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The Black Sheep 

YDS: 5.13 French: 8a Ewbanks: 29 UIAA: X- ZA: 30 British: E7 6c

Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, 1000', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.13 French: 8a Ewbanks: 29 UIAA: X- ZA: 30 British: E7 6c [details]
FA: Mike Pennings and Josh Wharton, 4/07, FFA Josh Wharton, 5/07
Season: Fall and Spring
Page Views: 1,599
Submitted By: j wharton on Oct 12, 2012

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This is one of my favorite climbs in the Black, and probably has the most difficult crux pitch of any route in the canyon (although the H-Wall is much more sustained overall). There's lots of good climbing, so it's worthy even if you A0 through the crux pitch, in which case the route is 12- A0.

It's a relatively short route, but it's nice to catch the crux in the shade, so an early start on warm days is recommended. It gets sun around 12:30 in the spring, likely earlier in the fall.

Tommy Caldwell did the second free ascent with me, a few months after I did the FFA. I don' think anyone else has free climbed it, but you never know. It deserves more attention.

P1. There are three options: climb the wide crack on the right side of a pillar, 10+; climb the left-facing, slicer flake just right of the open book, 11; or stem up the open book, 10+ (my favorite option). Belay at some fixed gear on a nice stance below a small roof, 60 meters.

P2. This is an awesome pitch. Climb easy rock to some techy stems. Avoid the chimney on the left, and transition into a left-facing flake then a right-facing corner above--super fun 5.10+. Belay at a small stance, 11+, 55 meters.

P3. Another nice pitch. Head out onto the left wall of the book past a steep bit of wide crack, which eventually fades into a seam and some face moves. Stop at an uncomfortable hanging belay at some bolts, 55 meters, 11+.

P4. The crux; a piece or two leads to into a steep, fading corner, and bolts through a black bulge--awesome, devious, crimpy climbing somewhere in the V8/9 range. (This pitch can be easily french freed at 12- A0.) Belay at a nice ledge, just 20 meters above.

P5. Spicy face climbing past a few bolts eventually leads left into right-facing corner with a fixed nut. Belay atop a small pillar, 30 meters, 10+ R. This is the last truly cool pitch, but hey it's the Black, so 5 out of 7 makes it a classic!

P6. This has tricky route finding. Head up the fading corner above, and then traverse straight left across two flakes to a large, right-facing feature. Climb up this corner to a pegmatite flake, now traverse right to a seam on a subtle arete, and find a belay stance just above, below a steep, right-facing flake that's a bit chossy looking. 35 meters, 5.10 with a bit of spice.

P7. Pull the bulge/flake above, and meander to the top, 60 meters, 10-.

From here, the easiest way off is to traverse across a bushy ledge and scramble to the rim via a 4th class chimney.


The route starts in a large open book to the left of the Plunge Pillar. Head up the gully (hint of 3rd class) left of the start of the Stoned Oven for approximately 10 minutes.


1 #00 TCU.
2 each #0 TCU to #1 Camalot.
1 each #2 to #4 Camalot.
1 set RPs and wires.

Comments on The Black Sheep Add Comment
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By Jay 1975
From: Bonedale,CO
Nov 4, 2012

Josh, on p-6, up the right facing corner then right underclinging the peg flake that's about to pull right off? Totally wasn't sure here and thought the fall could be consequential. Also tried straight up to the solid undercling flake and up the column like feature but no pro there.
By hkennedy
May 13, 2016

The Black Sheep is totally worthwhile, and I agree with Josh that this route is a great outing at 12- A0. The lower pitches are really fun and varied. The crux is hard and very conditions-dependent, this pitch felt like solid 13b or even 13c. Maybe one of the hardest pitches in the Black? The upper pitches are also cool but a bit on the spicy side but still fine. Pitch 6 is has some tricky route finding - climb above the belay on obvious crack to a left traverse on the peg, above is a crack that goes into a wide-looking corner, do not go straight up that crack, but rather a few 5.10 face moves lead back to the right to a good belay ledge just bellow the final 5.10 bulge.

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